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.
The emotions were, for Adler, to be considered and understood apart from speculations concerning their origins in the operations of the nervous or endocrine systems. He was respectful of the variety of habitual emotional patterns predominant in different individuals, and he did not rule out the likelihood of their being discovered to be hereditary in origin. Allowing that their primary forms could be identified in the responses to certain shocks experienced by infant and child, and in a mental tension then communicated and felt throughout the body by means of the autonomic system, Adler found the meaning of such events in whether they were clung to and rehearsed, instead of being allowed to pass from awareness after the moment of their occurrence. Adler regarded this clinging and rehearsing to be the work of the individual, molding the expression of feelings into forms consistent with his or her style of living, in line with a personal goal. He differentiated among these expressions as either socially disjunctive (G., trennende Affekte) as in anger, sadness, misuse of emotion, disgust, and fear and anxiety; or conjunctive (G., verbindende Affekte) as in joy, sympathy, and modesty (an affect which he says can be both conjunctive and disjunctive) (Adler, 1957, pp. 209-218). Also see Beecher, M. & Beecher, W., 1972, on jealousy. [Note that inferiority feeling and community feeling are not included as emotions, but carry a different meaning, namely a sense of things as they are in reality, independent of emotion or opinion.]
Readers of Adler will not be unimpressed by his foreshadowings of the work of later distinguished contributors to human understanding. Hans Selye (1907-1982) in his identification of the general adaptation syndrome (1956/1978) uses his term stress in much of the same way as tension is used by Adler. Karen Horney (1885-1952), who departed from Freud’s psychoanalytic assumptions on much of the same grounds as Adler had many years before, is often credited with having introduced the terms “conjunctive” and “disjunctive” into psychological discourse regarding emotions, although the priority is almost certainly Adler’s, who used both terms in Understanding Human Nature (1927/1957). (It is possible that Horney failed to acknowledge Adler’s contribution of these terms because of being not yet sufficiently independent of psychoanalytic domination to defy Freud’s well-known edict against citing Adler.)
The feelings of an individual bear the impress of the meaning he gives to life and of the goal he has set for his strivings. To a great extent they rule his body and do not depend on it (p. 226).
Feelings always agree with the goal of superiority, and should not be regarded as arguments (Adler, 1969, p. 117).
Joy does not brook isolation (Adler, 1957, p. 216)
We cannot have anger without an enemy . . . its purpose is a victory over this enemy (Adler, 1957, p. 209).
Emotions . . . have a definite goal and direction (Adler, 1957, p. 209).
[Affects] occur whenever they are appropriate to the given style of life and the predetermined behavior pattern of the individual. Their purpose is to modify the situation of the individual in whom they occur, to his benefit (Adler, 1957, p. 209).
Individual Psychology has an axiom that behavior is organized toward a final goal and that emotions are the catalyst of action (Shulman, 1973, p. 63).
© 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. 29).
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.
Adler, A. (1957). Understanding human nature. (W. B. Wolfe, Trans.). New York: Fawcett. (Original work published 1927)
Adler, A. (1969). The science of living. (H. L. Ansbacher, Ed.). New York: Doubleday. (Original work published 1929)
Beecher, M., & Beecher, W. (1972). The mark of Cain: An anatomy of jealousy. Richardson, TX Beecher Foundation.
Homey, K. (1945). Our inner conflicts: A constructive theory of neurosis. New York: Norton.
Selye, Hans. (1978). The stress of life (Rev. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 1956)
Shulman, B. H. (1973). Contributions to Individual Psychology: Selected papers. Chicago: Alfred Adler Institute.