Neither psychoanalysis nor psychodynamic psychology can be explained by knowing only the work of Sigmund Freud.
In fact, psychotherapy based on the fundamental ideas of psychoanalysis has three great founders: Sigmund Freud (of course), Carl Gustav Jung and Alfred Adler. This article is about the latter, who, in addition to being one of the first to question the ideas of the father of psychoanalysis, was the creator of Individual psychology.
Biography of Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler was born into a Viennese Jewish family in 1870, a few decades before psychoanalysis began to take shape through the work of Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer.
From a young age, Adler had a number of health complications which are commonly referred to as the onset of Austrian interest in medicine. Career which in his youth he successfully studied at the University of Vienna.
After college he met Freud
After obtaining a medical degree in 1895, he married and began to come into contact with psychoanalysis at the hands of Sigmund Freud, whom he met personally in 1899. Then Alfred Adler began to learn about the ideas on the functioning of the psyche proposed by Freudian theory.
Adler’s enthusiasm for psychoanalysis and psychology in general led him to become the first president of the city’s association of psychoanalysts, the Wednesday Psychological Society (later renamed the Psychological Society). Vienna Psychoanalytic Association), created in 1902.
There the fundamental ideas with which psychoanalysts have attempted to explain the human mind were debated and developed.And this exposure to the theoretical propositions of Freud and his followers helped make his theories increasingly complex by Alfred Adler.
The conflict between Adler and Freud
Alfred Adler’s notoriety in the world of the emerging psychoanalytic world grew very rapidly, partly because of his closeness to Freud but also because of the vehemence with which he expressed his ideas. In fact, there came a time when Adler became the editor of the Journal of Psychoanalysis (Zentralbaltt für Psychoanalyse), a publication of which Freud was editor and which, of course, was very relevant in his field.
However, shortly after this foray into the publishing world, Alfred Adler began to question the fundamental pillars of Freud’s theories, such as sexual theory.. This meant that in 1911 opposition to Freud’s ideas prevented him from continuing to work on the magazine. In addition, the same year Alfred Adler left the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association. This was the first major break experienced by the circle of Viennese psychoanalysts, although others will follow: shortly after, Carl Gustav Jung will definitely distance himself from the orthodox psychoanalysis of Freud.
But Adler has not ceased to be interested in creating ideas about how mental processes work. simply he created another psychological school similar in many ways to which Freud defended. This new school is called Individual psychology.
Alfred Adler and individual psychology
We could talk at length about the differences that led Alfred Adler and Sigmund Freud to separate, but the main reasons were two.
The first is that Adler gives much less importance to sexuality than Freud. He did not believe that sex or the way it is symbolized was an essential regulator of human behavior from the early years of life.
The second has to do with the role of the unconscious. If for Freud the unconscious is all that acts in the shadows keeps us attached to a series of patterns of behavior and thought according to what we have done in the past Alfred Adler placed more emphasis on the power of each individual in structuring the functioning of their mind. depending on what is happening in the present.
That is to say that, on the one hand, he stops considering past acts as a burden that inevitably conditions us, and on the other hand, he gives more importance to our way of interacting with what we feel and think here and there. recognize the importance of the context in which we find ourselves at all times).
Adler forged the foundations of this new individual psychology by focusing on his disabled patients.. Although they all have a history of similar limitations, some were consumed by their inferiority complex compared to other people, while in others, the physical limitations they experienced acted as a factor. motivation pushing them, according to Adler, to improve.
The split between Alfred Adler and Freud therefore has a lot to do with the extent to which the former valued the conscious side of thinking, which makes us unique people with the ability to construct original goals.
Alfred Adler’s legacy
Alfred Adler died in 1937, but his ideas resonated. He was the first great representative of psychodynamic psychology to question the great dogmas of Freud’s theories, and he constructed a more focused approach to the creative power of the individual aware of his powers and limits. Of course, all of his work is on the fringes of what is now considered scientific psychology, but that hasn’t stopped his influences from inspiring the world of letters and philosophy.
The individual psychology founded by Alfred Adler with other members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association had a great influence both on the humanistic psychology which appeared in the second half of the twentieth century and on various proposals framed in the psychodynamic current. In a world where the philosophy of self-help and personal development is gaining momentum, it is not surprising that the ideas of Adler, who had a more optimistic view of the way we are supposed to think and feel that his master, are well accepted. .