Alfred Adler was a leader in the social psychoanalytic movement. In this respect he has several followers such as Karen Horney and Eric Erikson. In this respect also he deviated from Sigmund Freud who looked at the personality as divided between opposing forces such as the libidinal expression and the superego of the individual.
Alfred Adler looked at the personality as a unity rather than a divided entity between different forces. Throughout his career as a psychoanalyst Alfred Adler has continuously revised his concepts of psychoanalysis.
In this respect he did similar revisions to his theory like Sigmund Freud who did revisions also to his theory as he progressed with his knowledge and experience in his psychoanalytic discipline.
The basic idea behind Adler theory of social psychoanalysis is the motivation of humans for achieving better life, a process that he called a striving from inferiority to superiority. Alfred Adler is responsible for the concept inferiority complex which is described as a feeling of worthlessness by the individual.
His basic theory about the striving for a better life has evolved through several stages. In each stage he changed his concepts according to the knowledge and experience that he accumulated in psychoanalysis.
In the first stage, he talked about organ inferiority in which a person feels inferior due to the existence of a physical disability that is manifested in an organ in the body.
He claimed for example that people with hearing problems overcompensate by developing a musical capacity. In this respect he cites the achievments of bethhoven.
In a later stage of his theory, Adler talked instead of an organ inferiority about aggressive drive. This concept is manifested by the fact the individual attempts for a better achievement through aggressive means or forms such as fighting and harshness. It can be manifested also by social form such as competitiveness in sport or politics.
In his third revision of the same concept Adler talked about a masculine protest. This concept is a manifestation of manliness which underlies more competence and superiority. Aggressiveness is considered masculine. Submission on the other hand is considered feminine.
Masculine protest is evidenced in women which in most parts have marginal role in conservative societies. Masculine protest is a motive for both women as well as for men.
The fourth concept that Adler used in his revised thoery was superiority striving. He meant by this concept a striving for self improvement, and not a striving to be better than other people.
The last concept that Adler used in his theory revisons is the striving for perfection. This concept is similar to other concept in psychology which was used by Rogers and Maslow about self actualization.
As was mentioned previously an inferiority complex can afflict a person if he fails to grow appropriately in childhood. The concept of inferiority complex is a major factor in the theory of psychoanalysis. A superiority complex is another term that is used when the inferiority complex is repressed and instead the individual has or gets a feeling of superiority over other people.
People with superiority complex are arrogant that try to overemphasize their achievments. An example of a superiority complex can be seen in the German nazists who believed that they are better and superior than other people. The fact that they could not develop the atomic bomb at that time testify for their limitations.
Next, I would like to discuss the concept of fictional finalism. Each individual has an image of a goal that he tries to pursue. He tries to achieve this goal. This goal is called the fictional finalism.
Adler saw the personality of humans as a unity that is composed of forces which are the fictional finalism and the unique style of life that each person has. A person's fictional finalism leads to a special style of life in which he tries to implement. The style of life is a compensation to an inferiorty complex which the individual has.
The style of life is determined by two factors. These are the image of the ultimate goal of the individual or the fictional finalism and the early memories of childhood.
Early memories were though to be a major determinant of the style of life of the individual. Alfred Adler agreed with Freud about the tasks of life by saying that they are to love and to work. He added a third task which is the social interaction.