Individual Psychology/Adlerian Psychology
Note: Page numbers enclosed in parentheses are citations from The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler: A systematic presentation in selections from his writings. (H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher, Eds.). © 1964, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Used by permission of Perseus Books Group.
From 1902 Adler was a leading participant in the circle of physicians and others who gathered to form the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society at the invitation of the founder of the group, Sigmund Freud. His relationship with Freud, whom he served as confidant and personal physician, was especially close. Later, as the Society took on a more formal character, Adler became its first president, and the co-editor of its first journal. By 1911, however, it was apparent that Adler’s theoretical development was moving in ways that were not congruent with Freud’s ideas. Early in 1911 Adler was asked to present a series of papers over the course of three successive meetings of the Society, for the purpose of detailing and formally setting forth the lines of his developing theoretical distinctions. These were especially those referred to under the term, “masculine protest,” which more and more clearly could be seen as a challenge, if not a refutation of Freud’s “libido” theory. The consequent division that showed itself in the discussions that followed, while it was for the most part expressed in the polite language of scientific debate, was clearly acrimonious, and the differences between the two most important figures in the Society very quickly came to be seen as irreconcilable. Adler took the initiative, voluntarily resigned as co-editor of the journal and president of the Society, with about one third of the members, who began to meet with him in a separate group, which they called “The Society for Free Psychoanalytic Research.”
The name was unmistakably pejorative. Within a short time Freud decreed that those who took part in the proceedings of the new group were no longer welcome at meetings of the original group. Adler had by his time begun to call his method “Comparative Individual Psychology,” to give emphasis to (a) each person as a unique variant of human possibility in his or her style of approaching the problems of social living (Comparative); (b) the unity of the organism and the personality as an indivisible whole, indivisibly embedded in a social and historical situation (Individual); and (c) the agency of the person, a “soul” to be understood by a focus on purpose, not process (Psychology). Before long therefore, the new group took the name Individual Psychology Society, to underscore these emphases, which the German name was able to achieve in a single word, Individualpsychologie. The English name, necessitating two words for its translation, has been misinterpreted as if it were meant to emphasize the identification and study of the individual in isolation from his or her social context, an unfortunate and unintended deformity of Adler’s meaning. Probably for this reason, among others, Adler’s work has come to be more commonly known under the name Adlerian Psychology. [See Community Feeling/Social Feeling/Social Interest; Holism; Masculine Protest; Organ Inferiority.]
Individual Psychology is probably the most consistent theory of the position of the individual to the problems of social living, and is in this sense, therefore, social psychology (p. 157).
© Griffith, J., & Powers, R. L. (2007). The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (2nd ed.). Port Townsend, WA: Adlerian Psychology Associates (p. 57).
Definitions of concepts are used by permission of Jane Griffith. A comprehensive list of concepts and definitions can be found in The Lexicon of Adlerian Psychology: 106 Terms Associated with the Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler by Jane Griffith and Robert L. Powers, available for purchase on Amazon.com.