Thanks to Adler, as one of three great scientists, namely Sigmund Freud & Carl Gustav Jung, Modern Psychology has been founded.
Alfred Adler was born in 1870, in one of the suburbs of Vienna, the capital of Austria. His father was a grain merchant. He was the second in a family of six children. At the age of three, his younger brother died due to diphtheria. His bed was just next to that of Adler’s. He himself had been suffering from rickets. At the age of four, he developed pneumonia which was about to kill him. This had greatly affected him; that before he was five years old, he had decided to be a physician, so that he may fight death –as he said.
Adler became a physician, being graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Vienna University, 1894. At the beginning, he had been a specialist in Ophthalmology. But he switched to General Practice after. That was before his turning to Psychology. He was one of the first who were mainly concerned with Sigmund Freud’s theories. He also admitted that such theories put him on the way of developing the science of psychology. So Adler began to be concerned with psychoanalysis; he joined the discussion group formed by Freud in 1902. In 1910, & by recommendation of Freud himself, Adler became Head of The Vienna Society of Psychoanalysis. For, Freud believed that appointing Adler in such a position would help mental closure between them both. But it was just the contrary which happened; soon after, contentions began to grow. The difference of views among Adler, Freud & Jung grew so severe that Adler rendered his resignation in 1911. The separation was not peaceful; it was brought about by much bitterness of both sides: Freud described Adler as “Abnormal” & that his severe ambition led to his madness. Adler was not much better: For he described the thoughts of Freud as unclean & obscene; and accused him of being deceiver & swindler. Then Adler, together with some of his colleagues, formed the group of “Psychoanalytic free researchers”. A year after, he changed its title to, “The Society for Individual Psychology.”
It is obvious that all Adler’s works owe much to those who preceded him; yet he, from the beginning, came out with a new different & independent method of describing & treating the problems of mankind.
As previously said, Adler had founded “The Society for Individual Psychology” in 1912, which illustrated the importance of the comprehensive vision to the personality of the individual; & that the word “individual” is used to stress the difference & distinction of each character from the other, & to show that it is impossible for the character to be divided; but regarding it as one unity is a must .
During the First World War (1914-1918) Adler was serving as Doctor in the Austrian Army; a Psychoneurologist in one of the Military hospitals. His military service increased his awareness of the importance & necessity of spreading his thoughts. The Post World 1 War was characterized by riches of his works. At that time, he wrote & published most of his books. Among them was, ”A Study About The Inferiority of Organs, and Psychological Compensation” 1917, “The Theory Of Individual Psychology & How to Apply It” 1929, “the Science of Life” 1929, “Miss R’s Case” 1929, “Life Pattern” 1930, “What life should mean to you” 1931, & “Social Tendency, a Challenge for Man” Which was published after his death.
The rule of Hitler in Germany was a difficult time for Adler together with the Jews as a whole. But he was lucky as this period did not last long for him. In 1935, he went to the United States, & settled down there. He had already been well-known there too. So, a new position was given to him at the Long Island’s College of Medicine; that he became Master of the Department of Medical Psychology. In the same year (1935), the Adlerian School began to publish its magazine “International journal for individual psychology”. At the age of 67, Adler was still steady & serious in his works, writing books & giving lectures; that he had to give fifty-nine lectures in four Countries within one month! He died in May 28th, 1937, of a sudden heart attack while practicing his morning sport- walk- & after giving one lecture to the students of Aberdeen University, Scotland.
Here, it may be important to shed light on one of Freud’s situations , as it has a particular significance: One of the co-workers sent him a letter sympathizing with Adler, lamenting the latter for his death- Freud’s answer was so tough & out of courtesy. Here is a short extract of the text of Freud’s reply: “I understand not your compassions & feelings towards Adler’s death. This Adler is nothing but a Jewish lad born in one of Vienna’s small districts. Now, he dies in Aberdeen while giving a lecture at its university. Such a matter was not heard of before. That in itself is considered a great positional change & an illustration of his exceptional progress that he achieved. He sees that the world has awarded him with much generosity in return for his psychoanalytic presentation.”
Now, & after more than 65 years of Adler’s death, many psychologists are taught how to use the methods of individual psychology all around: Extending from the United States & Canada to England, Germany, Austria & Switzerland-reaching also to Australia & other distant places.
From among the cases which Adler mentioned, that during the period of the war, he recognized two soldiers who were shot; each lost one of his arms. However, they got medicated. Many years after the end of the war, he ran into them; separately but coincidently. The one said to him on seeing him: “Doctor Adler, I’m unable to live. I bear my body as if it were a burden not to be relieved. The amputation of my arm made it impossible for me to do anything useful. I wish I had died instead of living with a condition as this.”
That soldier was a young man; but he lay on his tragedy & was satisfied with disability & surrender. It was but less than a week that passed when the other maimed soldier visited him. “Doctor, I’m very well. I found a work for my livelihood. It’s so much better than that which I had done before the war –when I was still with my two arms. I had got married, & got children. I’m happy with my wife & children. I would wonder why God created us with two arms, as one is enough.” Said he.
That obvious contrast in the behavior of the soldiers both, motivated Adler to meditate & compare between them. He justified the contrast by the bravery of the latter to confront life with its calamities & catastrophes. Adler attributes this great difference to the fact that the latter soldier, in his early 4 or 5 years of childhood, was brought up to be brave; to challenge & to confront. But the former was brought up to run away & detach himself.
“Courage is the health of the soul.” That is one of Adler’s sayings. That is, all psychological diseases are caused by fear, particularly that which has no justifiable reason. It is a psychological condition of distress making the patient afraid of everything. This condition is potent inside the individual, & lead to his instability. Nevertheless, the lack of upbringing may not be a good excuse for us to fear & submit to disasters we face. That if we were not educated to be brave & to get used to being so at the stage of childhood, we should learn it & habituate ourselves to it- & to struggle with problems, hardships & calamities. We should never admit defeat; but do as the military leader who said, “The army is not defeated as long as it doesn’t admit the defeat.”
“The human nature” is one of the significant & immortal books of Alfred Adler’s. In this unique volume, Adler- the stubborn rival to Sigmund Freud- & his companion & partner in the adoption of the psychoanalytic theory… Explains the human nature according to the vision of individual psychology. He subdivided the book into two sections: The first one studies the constituents of the growth & development of the personality of the individual. The second section is a study of the science of individual personality; he divided the personality into two main types: A Social Personality, & an Avoiding Personality. He discussed the wrong behavior of the individual which may affect the harmony that should lead our social life -& the method that the individual should follow in order to develop his psychology so as to be adapted to live in the community. Also, he dealt with the three main problems the individual may face; these are: Labor, Relations with the individuals around, & marriage. Moreover, he told us, through his scientific method, about the importance of co-operation & social sense in coping with these three problems. Of course, the book is not free from hidden & explicit criticism of Freud’s theories on psychoanalysis -taking the contention between them both into consideration.