Quiz 3: Adler: Individual Psychology
Originally, Adler spoke of the striving for superiority as the final goal for all people, but after he placed more emphasis on social interest, he made a distinction between striving for superiority and striving for success. In Adler's final theory, the striving for superiority was seen as an attempt to gain personal superiority over other people.As such, it is pathological and devoid of a high level of social interest.For example, a person may give money to a street beggar to convey a message of superiority over the beggar. After Adler began to see the importance or social interest, he talked about striving for success, which he defined as success for all humanity.The striving for success is thus motivated by a high level of social interest and not by personal gain.A person who strives for success may give money to a street beggar out of interest in the beggar as part of humanity.A person with high social interest would genuinely care about the beggar and may extend that care beyond merely giving money.
To Adler, objective reality (such as a deformed hand) does not determine style of life; rather, style of life is shaped by one's view of realty. People are motivated more by fictions, or expectations of the future, than by experiences of the past.Fictions influence people as if they really existed.Expectations of the future reflect the concept of teleology and are opposed to the influence of past events, which emphasizes causality. Adler believed that the people are "blessed" by organ inferiorities.The inferiority itself does not determine the direction of a person's striving, but one's view of one's inferiority can lead to either healthy or unhealthy striving.
Safeguarding tendencies take the form of neurotic symptoms and are designed to protect an inflated self-image against public disgrace. The most common of Adlerian safeguarding tendencies are excuses, and these can take the form of either the "Yes, but" excuse or the "If only" excuse.With either excuse, a person is attempting to protect a real sense of self-worth by deceiving other people into believing that he or she is a worthy person. A second safeguarding tendency is aggression, which may take the form of depreciation, accusation, or self-accusation.In all three cases, the person aggresses against others or self in order to gain personal superiority. The third safeguarding tendency is to withdraw, or run away from life's difficulties.People can withdraw by (1) moving backward, or reverting to a more secure period of life; (2) standing still, which avoids responsibility for growing up; (3) hesitating, which gives people the excuse that "It's too late now;" and (4) constructing obstacles so that they can demonstrate their superiority by overcoming the obstacle.