change. Clients are encouraged to value their strengths and to acknowledge that they are equal members of society who can make a worthwhile contribution. After Adler’s death, Rudolf Dreikurs was the mot significant figure bringing Adlerian psychology to America, applying its principles to education, individual, group, and family therapy.
BASIC ASSUMPTIONS OF HUMAN NATURE
The following are some assumptions of human nature stated by Adler:
Adler argued that people’s actions, thoughts and feelings had to be seen as a whole. He held that “no life expression can be viewed in isolation, but must always be regarded in relation to the total personality” (1956. p. 75). Personality is not made up of separate parts, but rather, the person as a whole orientates himself or herself to the surrounding. The lifestyle of people and how they behave in the world is determined by the ideas and beliefs they have chosen. For example, a person may choose to believe that he should be better than others or that he should be liked by others. Adler did not place importance on genetic factors but more importantly how the person used what he or she inherited in responding to the environment.
Adler further suggested that people were social in nature. So, their behaviour had to be interpreted in a social context. If this be the case, then it is important to examine:
how people behaved in their family,
how they behaved in their school,
how they behaved as adults in the workplace,
how they behaved with their friends and
how they behaved in intimate relationships.
The human baby is born in an inferior position, quite helpless and dependent on others for survival. The feeling of inferiority, whether real or imagined, may last well into the teenage years. Some people become so engrossed in their feelings of inferiority that they become emotionally and socially paralysed and develop an inferiority complex. Humans are always trying to overcome physical weakness by striving for perfection and significance as well as developing a sense of superiority. Such effort is called compensation. This does not mean being overly more powerful or more significant than others, it simply means moving from a perceived lower position to a higher one, from feeling neglected to feeling accepted, and from perceiving weaknesses to achieving strength. The unique ways in which an individual achieves his or her superiority is what meant by individuality.
Wise parenting will enable children to grow to feel that they are social equals. In other words, they are equal in their families, have equal rights, equal respect and share equal responsibilities. Children expect to be treated equally and expect their views to be taken into account.
- Alfred Adler