Individual Psychology

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individual psychology

[¦in·də¦vij·ə·wəl sī′käl·ə·jē]
A system of psychology in which traits of an individual are compared in terms of striving for superiority and then restated in the form of a composite of this single tendency.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Individual Psychology


one of the currents in depth psychology, based on the theories of the Austrian psychologist A. Adler.

Individual psychology proceeds from Adler’s conception that the main source of motivation is the presence of an inferiority complex in the individual and the striving to overcome it. The sense of inferiority, which arises in early childhood, determines the “life style” characteristic of each person. In contrast to psychoanalysis, individual psychology considers that the basis of social character is an innate social feeling (Gemeinschaftsge-fuhl), which, however, requires education for its full development. This feeling is lacking in neurotics and asocial elements, such as drug addicts, and is replaced by a striving for unconscious, fictitious goals. Individual psychology sees the goal of therapy in exposing such distortions in the patient’s life style. Adler himself, who belonged to the Austrian Social Democratic Party, saw in individual psychology a reformist program for achieving harmony in man and society. Individual psychology also addressed itself to the study of creativity, proceeding from its theory of compensatory activity as the overcoming of biological and social inferiority. Individual psychology also dealt with the psychology of groups having an expressed feeling of social inferiority (criminals, lumpen proletariat).

On the whole, individual psychology did not elaborate its own general psychological theory, limiting itself primarily to observations of an empirical character. It received its greatest dissemination during the 1920’s, especially in pedagogy and psychotherapy. Later, individual psychology disappeared as a movement; it had given, however, a powerful stimulus to the development of sociopsychological and group methods in therapy and of sociological trends in psychology and medicine—for the most part in the United States (K. Homey, H. Sullivan, E. Fromm, F. Alexander, and others, who are usually regarded as neo-Freudians but can also be called neo-Adlerians).


Handbuch der Individualpsychologie. vols. 1-2. Munich, 1926.
Dreikurs, R. Fundamentals of Adlerian Psychology. New York, 1950.
Essays in Individual Psychology. New York, 1959.
Way, L. M. Adler’s Place in Psychology. New York, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In contrast to psychoanalysis, the four phases or stages of Adlerian or Individual Psychology that would be appropriate for African American adolescents are the following:
Alfred Adler's key publications were The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology (1927), Understanding Human Nature (1927), and What Life Could Mean to You (1931).
A Most Accursed Religion is to be given very high praise for its excellence in progressive study and detailing of content, and is strongly recommended to all students of Abrahamic theology (Christianity, Judaism, Islam), as well as students of psychology, as an invaluable understanding of the religious aspect and impact of trauma upon individual psychology.
These processes require an active counselor and have many similarities to Alfred Adler's Individual Psychology. Another active therapy, Frederick Perl's Gestalt therapy, allows counselors to address clients' polarities in their presentation of themselves.
In pursuing this activity, Shakespeare is finely attuned to the nuances of individual psychology and to the vast network of connections between the individual and the society.
If Adler criticised Freud's libido-based psychoanalysis as being one-sided, he replaced it by his own even more one-sided 'Individual Psychology'.
The process is still poorly understood by social science, with its search for external causes of behavior, but is essential to bridging the largest chasm in intellectual life: that between individual psychology and collective culture."
The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler operates under the assumption that all behavior is purposeful and goal directed (Mosak & Maniacci, 2000).
In defense of benevolent neutrality: Against a "spiritual strategy." The Journal of Individual Psychology, 56, 343-352.
The study of risk perception began in the 1970s as an exercise in individual psychology. Almost every study of risk perception has found age, education, and gender effects.
One aspect of individual psychology that has received a considerable amount of attention is that of cognitive limitations.
Nevertheless, his emphasis on understanding Wallace's science and beliefs through his individual psychology stands in welcome contrast to the approach taken by most academic historians of science, who aim to reduce original thinkers to anonymous blobs of gray matter responding to sociological forces that only the historians have the wit to perceive.

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