ADLER'S THERAPY - INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY
in a condition of social isolation as we are all part of a social context. This very point distinguishes Adler’s Individual Psychology from Freud’s Psychoanalysis as, with the exception of the relationships that develop with one’s parents or early caregivers, in the classical Freudian approach social relations are neglected. For Adler, social interaction has a fundamental importance and should be taken into account as an essential constituent of the psychic makeup of an individual. With the term ‘individual’, reference is made to the concept of a unique and unrepeatable psychic individuality, which, through the necessity to ensure one’s survival, must become a part of a community structure formed by other psychic units, which are also unique and unrepeatable. The two components Adler recognised as being fundamental - the ‘will to power’ and the development of social feeling –ensure the survival of human beings. These unavoidable instruments of growth are both situated beyond the basic drives and in each individual have the specific task of regulating instinctual impulses and conscious activity.
For its own part - and with the energetic thrust by which it is characterised - the ‘will to power’ drives human beings in the direction of individual goals of self-affirmation, together with the other fundamental human need: social feeling. It is represented by the need which every human being has to cooperate with others and to jointly share in their emotions. The field of action of the will to power extends to all sectors of social interaction, from feelings to sexuality, work and interpersonal relationships, while, for the purpose of attaining power and dominion and achieving self-conservation, its actual operative intervention - without possessing within itself an aggressive foundation - uses what Adler defines as the aggressive drive. In Adler’s view, in very small children, aggressiveness is nothing else than a primordial energy: not yet curbed and channelled, but already capable of ensuring satisfaction of an individual’s most elementary needs.
Along the way, however, the first obstacles begin to loom on the horizon, the child experiences its first moments of sufferance and new dangers indicate the confines within which it may express its vital energy, modulating the intensity of this energy in accordance with contingent necessity. Later on, when it has grown a little, it will necessarily have to contend with the rules of social life, initially expounded by the mother, but subsequently indicated by the family unit and later on by society itself. Many of these rules concern the control of one’s aggressiveness, which will thus be channelled towards permitted, solicited or even imposed areas of activity and expression. The originality of Adler’s thinking lies in his having emphasized the finalistic view of the individual’s success in overcoming his/her feelings of inferiority (whatever sense ‘inferiority’ may have in the psychological ‘arrangements’ of the individual).
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