Adlerian Personality Theory

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In this paper, it can be witnessed that Adler’s personality theory comes to the forefront. He also explained about competitiveness between older, younger as well as middle-born siblings. It mostly arises from the altered phase of pampering and neglect. When an individual is left alone after several episodes of pamper and love, he is bound to feel devastated. However, the competitiveness and strive for superiority help him to overcome the inferiority feelings that he has developed in him.


According to Alfred Adler, inferiority is something that everyone experiences, since their childhood days. In the initial days, a child is largely dependent upon his parents. However, he may become despaired once his parents leave him alone to do things all by himself. As a result, the human acts are the manifestations of overcoming inferiority and striving to become superior. On the other hand, a person may suffer from inferiority complex if he or she is not able to remove the overwhelming web of inferiority and struggle to achieve superiority.

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Apart from these, Alder’s theory also emphasized on the siblings’ order of taking birth and their “superiority versus inferiority” dynamics. For instance, the first born in a family is always pampered initially but once he or she is denied care and love, conservatism and reservation set in. It takes place when the middle-child replaces the older sibling’s place. Similarly, the younger child of a family always tends to feel helpless when he or she is left to manage things on his or her own. It is primarily because of the care and pamper he receives largely. On the contrary, both the young and middle-born siblings tend to compete with their older ones. Therefore, firstly, the children may sink into negativity and develop inferiority complex. However, in order to achieve the superiority, they can become competitive and thrive for the same.


Historical context along with the major contributors

Adler was initially following the works of Sigmund Freud but later he discontinued it when suddenly a disagreement cropped up. For instance, Sigmund Freud solely relied upon the concept that human behaviors originate from sexual instincts while developing his personality theory (Pomeroy & Clark, 2015). However, Alder concluded that an individual’s behavior is dependent upon his need to supersede the inferiority feelings. Some of the other contributors of personality theories are Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and others.

Main five concepts

The main concepts of Adler include uniqueness and self-determination, feeling of community, goal orientation, social context, and lastly, unity of an individual.

In the case of uniqueness, Adler articulated that everyone is different from one another, in some or the other way (Ryckman, 2012). Even though an individual’s goal can be influenced by various cultural factors and heredity yet it actually springs from his or her own creative power. Hardly, people are aware of their stipulated goals. They realize the same from varying coping patterns, birth order, and the earliest memories.

Social context pertains to the concept that there are three main tasks in an individual’s life; they are love, occupation, and relationships with others. Therefore, the way a person responds to his initial social circle, i.e., family determines both his attitudes towards his life and world views.

A person must consciously develop the way of social interactions. However, his sense of security and belongingness are deeply rooted in the social evolution’s stream. The above aspect implies an individual’s feeling of community.

Feeling, thinking, behavior, and emotion of a person can be better understood from his pattern of dealing in regards to life events. Thus, an individual’s internal thought process does not resemble a battleground where several conflicting forces can be witnessed.

Goal orientation, on the other hand, indicates that a person’s determination to reach a goal is determined by his depth of inferiority sense. It is actually the core reason of a person’s behavioral patterns.

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Evaluation of Adlerian Personality Theory from the spiritual perspective

Adler believed that human beings have the power to control their own destiny or fate. It can be better understood from their keenness to help others, which is quite similar to that of social interests. The role of superiority and inferiority in a person’s life can be determined by observing the patterns of interactions with peers, family members, and teachers (Eckstein & Kaufman, 2012). Thus, a person’s reality is constructed by his own way of perceiving the world around him. Each individual is unique. A person, oftentimes, confronts with many alternatives which triggers the role of free-will in his or her life. It implies that human beings are choosy, creative, and determined enough to carve a path for reaching his or her life-goals. Hence, inferiority may be encountered in several forms such as neglect, solitude, and competition. However, it is important to sculpt one’s path to various goals in life, by striving for superiority. On the contrary, superiority may manifest in the form of self-realization, perfection, completion, competency, self-actualization, and mastery.


It can be inferred from the above study that every person encounters inferiority complex, in his life. However, it is easy to negate by trying to achieve superiority via competition, perfection, and competency. Alder’s personality theory focuses on goal-orientation, inferiority versus superiority, and encouragement versus discouragement concepts. Adler tried to follow Freud’s works, initially, but certain disagreements made him change his course. His personality theory resembles the Jungian concept a bit; however, Adler emphasized on the individuals personality instead of stereotyping everyone.

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  1. Eckstein, D., & Kaufman, J. A. (2012). The role of birth order in personality: An enduring intellectual legacy of Alfred Adler. Journal of individual Psychology68(1), 60-74.
  2. Pomeroy, H., & Clark, A. J. (2015). Self-efficacy and early recollections in the context of Adlerian and wellness theory. The Journal of Individual Psychology71(1), 24-33.
  3. Ryckman, R. M. (2012). Theories of personality. London: Cengage Learning.
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