The Adlerian School

Following Adler's break from Freud, he enjoyed considerable success and celebrity in building an independent school of psychotherapy and a unique Personality Theory. He traveled and lectured for a period of 25 years promoting his socially oriented approach. His intent was to build a movement that would rival, even supplant, others in psychology by arguing for the holistic integrity of psychological well-being with that of social equality. Adler's efforts were halted by World War I, during which he served as a doctor with the Austrian Army. After the conclusion of the war, his influence increased greatly. In the 1930s, he established a number of child guidance clinics. From 1921 onwards, he was a frequent lecturer in Europe and the United States, becoming a visiting professor at Columbia University in 1927. His clinical treatment methods for adults were aimed at uncovering the hidden purpose of symptoms using the therapeutic functions of insight and meaning.

Adler was concerned with the overcoming of the superiority/inferiority dynamic and was one of the first psychotherapists to discard the analytic couch in favor of two chairs. This allows the clinician and patient to sit together more or less as equals. Clinically, Adler's methods are not limited to treatment after-the-fact but extend to the realm of prevention by preempting future problems in the child. Prevention strategies include encouraging and promoting social interest, belonging and a cultural shift within families and communities that leads to the eradication of pampering and neglect (especially corporal punishment). Adler's popularity was related to the comparative optimism and comprehensibility of his ideas. He often wrote for the lay public—unlike Freud and Jung, who tended to write almost exclusively for an academic audience. Adler always retained a pragmatic approach that was task-oriented. These "Life tasks" are occupation/work, society/friendship and love/sexuality. Their success depends on cooperation. The tasks of life are not to be considered in isolation since, as Adler famously commented, "they all throw cross-lights on one another".

In his bestselling book, Man's Search for Meaning, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl compared his own "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy" (after Freud's and Adler's schools) to Adler's analysis:

According to logotherapy, the striving to find a meaning in one's life is the primary motivational force in man. That is why I speak of a will to meaning in contrast to the "pleasure principle" (or, as we could also term it, the will to pleasure) on which Freudian psychoanalysis is centered, as well as in contrast to the will to power stressed by Adlerian psychology.

Emigration and Death

In the early 1930s, after most of Adler's Austrian clinics were closed due to his Jewish heritage (although he had converted to Christianity), Adler left Austria for a professorship at the Long Island College of Medicine in the USA. Adler died from a heart attack in Aberdeen, Scotland during a lecture tour in 1937. At the time it was a blow to the influence of his ideas although a number of them were taken up by neo-Freudians. Through the work of Rudolf Dreikurs in the United States and many other adherents worldwide, Adlerian ideas and approaches remain strong and viable more than 70 years after Adler's death.

Around the world there are various organizations promoting Adler's orientation towards mental and social well-being. These include the International Committee of Adlerian Summer Schools and Institutes (ICASSI), the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology (NASAP) and the International Association for Individual Psychology. Teaching institutes and programs exist in Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Switzerland, the United States, Jamaica, Peru and Wales.

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