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Alfred Adler
Individual Theory of Personality/Psychodynamic
38
Psychology
12/07/2010

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Term
accusation
Definition
Form of neurotic aggression that involves blaming other people for one’s shortcomings and seeking revenge against those people.
Term
aggression
Definition
As a safeguarding strategy, aggression can take three forms: depreciation, accusation, and self-accusation.
Term
avoiding type person
Definition
Person exhibiting the mistaken lifestyle of avoiding the attempt to solve life’s problems, thereby escaping possible defeat. Such a person lacks adequate social interest.
Term
birth order
Definition
One of the topics that Adler studied in order to understand personality. He believed that different birth orders created different situations to which children must adjust and that his adjustment may have an influence on personality development.
Term
compensation
Definition
Making up for weakness, such as organ inferiority, by emphasizing functions that substitute for the weakness.
Term
creative self
Definition
Free element of the personality that allows the person to choose between alternative fictional goals and lifestyles. It is the differential exercise of this creative power that is mainly responsible for individual differences.
Term
depreciation
Definition
Neurotic safeguarding strategy whereby one’s accomplishments are overvalued and the accomplishments of others are undervalued. Depreciation can take the form of idealization, whereby standards used to judge people are so high that no real person could live up to them and is this depreciated. Another form of depreciation is solicitude, whereby neurotics act as if other people could not get along without them.
Term
distancing
Definition
Safeguarding strategy used by neurotics that involves creating barriers between themselves and their problems in life.
According to Adler, distancing can take the forms of moving backward or the use of childhood behavior in order to gain attention and control; standing still or the avoidance of failure by not attempting to so anything; hesitating or becoming involved in diversions until it is too late to confront a problem; constructing obstacles or the creation of minor obstacles so that they can be overcome, thereby increasing the neurotic’s false feeling of worth; experiencing anxiety is caused by the neurotic’s inability to solve life’s problems; the greater the ineptitude, the greater the anxiety and therefore, the greater the need for distancing; and using the exclusion tendency or the neurotics’ tendency to confine their lives to the few areas in which they can dominate.
Term
dream analysis
Definition
Adler believed that the primary purpose of dreams was to create emotions that could be used by dreamers to support their mistaken lifestyles.
Dreams, then, were analyzed to learn about the lifestyles of the dreamers.
Term
excuses
Definition
Safeguarding strategy whereby neurotics use their symptoms as excuses for their shortcomings.
Term
feelings of inferiority
Definition
Feelings that one has of being inferior, whether or not these feelings are justified by real circumstances.
Such feelings, according to Adler, can lead either to positive accomplishments or to an inferiority complex.
Term
fictional finalism
Definition
Fictional future goal to which a person aspires.
This goal is the end to which the person is aspiring, and his or her lifestyle is the means to that end.
Term
fictional finalism
Definition
Fictional future goal to which a person aspires.
This goal is the end to which the person is aspiring, and his or her lifestyle is the means to that end.
Term
first-born child
Definition
This child is the focus of attention until the birth of a sibling “dethrones” him or her.
The loss felt by the first-born child when the second child is born often creates bitterness that causes problems later in life.
Adler considered this the most troublesome birth position.
Term
first memories
Definition
A person’s earliest recollections.
Such recollections provide the basis for a person’s worldview, fictional final goal, and lifestyle.
Adler believed that as one’s personality changes so do first memories.
Term
fraternal birth order defect (FBO)
Definition
The more older, biologically related brothers a male child has, the more likely he is to be homosexual
Term
fundamental fact of life
Definition
Adler replaced his earlier contention that people seek power to overcome feelings of inferiority with the contention that they aspire to become superior or perfect.
Adler referred to the latter contention as the fundamental fact of life.
Adler’s final position was that healthy persons aspire toward social rather than individual perfection.
Term
getting-leaning type person
Definition
Person exhibiting the mistaken lifestyle that expects everything to be given to him or her by others.
Such a person lacks adequate social interest.
Term
individual psychology
Definition
Adler’s term to describe his theory.
The term individual was used to stress his belief that each person is an integrated whole striving to attain future goals and attempting to find meaning in life while working harmoniously with others.
Term
inferiority complex
Definition
Psychological condition that exists when a person is overwhelmed by feelings of inferiority to the point at which nothing can be accomplished.
Term
lifestyle
Definition
The primary means by which one attempts to attain his or her self-created or fictional goals in life.
Term
masculine protest
Definition
Attempting to become more powerful by being more masculine, and thereby less feminine.
According to Adler’s earlier theorizing, both men and women attempt to gain power by becoming more like the cultural ideal of a man.
Term
mistaken lifestyle
Definition
Any lifestyle that is not aimed at socially useful goals.
In other words, any lifestyle that minimizes social interest.
Term
neglecting
Definition
Condition that causes the child to feel worthless and angry and to be distrustful of everyone.
Term
only child
Definition
This child is like the first-born child who was never dethroned.
Only children, according to Adler, are often sweet, affectionate, and charming in order to appeal to others.
Adler did not consider this birth position as dangerous as the first-born’s position.
Term
organ inferiority
Definition
Condition that exists when some organ of the body does not develop normally.
Such a condition can stimulate compensation or overcompensation, which is healthy, or can result in an inferiority complex, which is unhealthy.
Term
overcompensation
Definition
Process in which, through considerable effort, converts a previous weakness into a strength.
An example is when a frail child works hard to become an athlete.
Term
physical inferiority
Definition
Actual physical weakness
Term
ruling-dominant type person
Definition
Person exhibiting the mistaken lifestyle that dominates and rules people.
Such a person lacks social interest.
Term
safeguarding strategies
Definition
Mechanisms neurotics use to preserve what little self-esteem and illusions of superiority a mistaken lifestyle can provide.
Term
second-born child
Definition
This child is very ambitious because he or she is constantly attempting to catch up and surpass the older sibling.
Of all the birth orders, Adler believed that the second-born was the best.
Term
self-accusation
Definition
Form of neurotic aggression that involves wallowing in self-torture and guilt, the ultimate purpose of which is to hurt other people.
Term
social interest
Definition
Innate potential to live in harmony and friendship with others and to aspire to the development of a perfect society.
Term
socially useful type person
Definition
Person exhibiting a lifestyle containing a healthy amount of social interest.
Such a lifestyle is not “mistaken”
Term
spoiling or pampering
Definition
Conditions that cause a child to believe that it is the responsibility of others to satisfy his or her needs.
Term
striving for superiority
Definition
o What Adler called the “Fundamental fact of life”
According to Adler’s final theoretical position, it is not the search for the power necessary to overcome feelings of inferiority that motivates humans; rather, it is the constant search for perfection or superiority.
However, Adler stressed the perfection of society rather than individual perfection.
Term
superiority complex
Definition
Psychological condition that exists when a person concentrates too much on his or her own need to succeed while ignoring the needs of others.
Such a person tends to be vain, domineering, and arrogant.
Term
youngest child
Definition
According to Adler, the second-worst position after the first-born.
This child is often spoiled and therefore loses courage to succeed by his or her own efforts.