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In 1926, Adler made his first visit to America. Becoming a regular visitor, he lectured at Harvard and Brown Universities, in Chicago, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and several schools in California. In 1929, he was appointed a visiting professor at Columbia University, and in 1932 he was appointed as the first chair of Medical Psychology in the United States, at Long Island Medical College. All of his child guidance clinics were closed when the fascists overthrew the Austrian Republic in 1934, and Alfred and Raissa Adler made New York their official home. In the spring of 1937 he began a tour of Europe, giving lectures and holding meetings. As he traveled to Aberdeen, Scotland on May 28 th , he collapsed from a heart attack and died before he reached the hospital.

One of the enduring questions about Adler’s career was the nature of his relationship with Freud. As mentioned above, it was the very popular Adler who defended Freud’s early theories, and helped Freud to gain recognition in psychiatry (remember that Freud was well known as an anatomist and neurophysiologist). And yet, it is often suggested that Adler was a student or disciple of Freud. According to Abraham Maslow, Adler was deeply offended by these suggestions:

I asked some question that implied his disciplineship under Freud. He became very angry and flushed, and talked so loudly that other people’s attention was attracted. He said that this was a lie and a swindle for which he blamed Freud entirely. He said that he had never been a student of Freud, or a disciple, or a follower…Freud, according to Adler, spread the version of the break which has since been accepted by all - namely, that Adler had been a disciple of Freud and then had broken away from him. It was this that made Adler bitter…I never heard him express personal opinions of Freud at any other time. This outburst must, therefore, be considered unusual. (pg. 93; Maslow cited in Manaster, et al., 1977; see also Kaufmann, 1992)

Placing Adler in Context: Perhaps the Most Influential Person

in the History of Psychology and Psychotherapy

To suggest that anyone may have been more influential than Freud, let alone a contemporary of Freud, is difficult to say. And yet, if we look honestly at the accomplishments of Alfred Adler, and the breadth of his areas of interest, we will see that the case can be made. When Freud first proposed his psychodynamic theory, with its emphasis on infantile sexuality, Freud was often mocked, or simply ignored. It was the popular Dr. Adler’s defense of Freud, and Adler’s favorable review of the interesting nature of Freud’s theories, that helped Freud find an interested audience. As supportive as Adler was, he had his own theories from the very beginning of their association, and Adler’s Individual Psychology has a certain logical appeal, without the corresponding controversy generated by Freud.

Infants are inferior, and we all try to gain control over our environments. Thus, the basic inferiority/striving for superiority concept seems self-evident. Likewise, the inferiority complex is one of the most widely recognized and intuitively understood concepts in the history of psychology. Suggesting that each person adopts a style of life that helps them to pursue their goals also again makes perfect sense, and the suggestion that we have within us a creative power to form our style of life is a decidedly hopeful perspective on the human condition.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Personality theory in a cultural context. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11901/1.1
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