Organ Dialect/Organ Jargon/Organ Language
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.
Adler used the terms organ dialect, organ jargon, and organ language interchangeably to refer to somatic signs and symptoms that express (though veiled) an individual's attitudes and opinions. The Adler Bibliography compiled by H. L. and R. R. Ansbacher (pp. 465-470) shows that Adler used the term organ dialect as early as 1912, when he wrote a paper of that name. He later borrowed the term organ jargon that had been coined by Georg Groddeck (cited in Robb, 1932), and also synonymously employed the term organ language. Organ dialect, like other movement of the person, is understood as purposive, that is, whether or not consciously, in line with the individual's unique law of movement. The jargon or statement made by the organ is unique, and its selection is idiosyncratic, consistent with the individual's particular organ inferiority or the organ's availability as already rehearsed for symptomatic expression, or according to any symbolic meaning the individual has attached to the selected organ. For example, two persons may suffer from leg pains that have no basis in organic disease. The jargon of one may be: "I can't stand on my own two feet," expressing a conviction that he or she must depend on the help of others to meet life's challenges, while the jargon of the other may be: “I can't stand it!" declaring an inability to endure a particular pressure or difficult situation. As to the symbolic aspect of the symptom, one might discover that a client, experiencing heart trouble for which there is no medical explanation, is expressing heartbreak. [See Organ Inferiority.)
The body is also subject to the law of movement (p. 223).
[The functions of the body] speak a language which is usually more expressive and discloses the individual's opinion more clearly than words are able to do. Still it is a language, the language of the body, which I have called organ dialect (p. 223).
Each individual's body speaks in a language of its own (p. 225).
An organ can never "speak its dialect" unless the individual permits it to "speak" — unless he has a use for this symptom in his life-plan [lifestyle] in the pursuit of his fictive life-goal (Dreikurs, R., 1973, p. 144).
Some day it will probably be proved that every organ inferiority may respond to psychological influences and speak the organ language, that is, a language expressing the attitude of the individual toward the problems confronting him (p. 308).
It is always necessary to look for . . . reciprocal actions of the mind on the body, and of the body on the mind, for both of them are parts of the whole with which we are concerned (p. 225).
Sometimes the mouth lies or the head does not understand; but the functions of the body always speak the truth (p. 434).
See Griffith, J. (1984).
© 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. 75).
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.
Dreikurs, R. (1973, Rev. ed.). Psychodynamics, psychotherapy and counseling: Collected papers of Rudolf Dreikurs, M. D. Chicago: Alfred Adler Institute.
Griffith, J. (1984). Adler's organ jargon. Individual Psychology, 40(4), 437-444.
Robb, M. (1932). Organ jargon. Individual Psychology Medical Pamphlets, 4, 61-67.