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George Neeson October 6th, 2006 11:06 AM

Defining Moments
I think I need to do some work on clearly defining Adler's concepts so I thought I might as well start a thread in this regard. I am hoping I do not stand alone with this confusion.:o
Today's question is to clarify what Adler meant by neurosis. I know it is a deviation from social interest and it involves the neglect or deferral of at least one life task with a supplied and created "excuse" away from common sense. I am sure he defines it more clearly somewhere but in reading the CCWAA, I have yet to find his own definition. I am sure it differs from Freud's, but how?
Add to this the very blurry boundry between neurosis and psychosis and I find my own thinking gets pretty muddy. As far as I can see, in Adler's thought, psychosis is a further deviation from common sense and it usually involves failure to address several or even all of the life tasks with social interest.
Can anyone more clearly define these words from Adler's own writing or at least give me a better grip on them.

George Neeson October 7th, 2006 09:22 AM

Re: Defining Moments
Aha, I forgot about Adler's article in Volume & of CCWAA entitled "What is Neurosis" on page 132. Still although the neurotic's retreat is well described, a clear definition of neurosis still is not present in my mind. By the way, anyone seriously wishing to study Adlerian psychology really must have these volumes from the translation project. See link ...
The Neurotic "yes-but" refrain is also well described. Yes these are things a neurotic does, but how does one define this set of symptoms and behaviour choices?

George Neeson October 7th, 2006 06:51 PM

Re: Defining Moments
I think I am finally getting it. Page 139 of the above. A neurosis is in place when the patient uses symptom(s) to avoid a life task! The patient will draw these symptoms from some past "shock" but he will not be aware this is happening.
I am no further ahead in the definition of psychosis by Alder.

Manu Jaaskelainen October 9th, 2006 04:17 PM

Re: Defining Moments
I am not sure whether I am able to provide answer to this psychosis-problem, but there is a very good discussion on this (in German) in the W├Ârterbuch der Individualpsychologie (Dictionary of Individual Psychology), by Brunner & Titze. Ansbacher & Ansbacher discuss this shortly in their The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. Acording to them, the neurotic understands social interest (this is based on a quotation by AA), but the psychotic has lost his/her grip of this idea more or less completely (see pp. 302-303). So the difference is a difference of degree, but it is still a huge difference, in my mind.

George Neeson October 9th, 2006 06:00 PM

Re: Defining Moments
Manu that is a very helpful quote. I suspected someone out there had a better understanding than I so it proved to be worth asking.

Manu Jaaskelainen October 10th, 2006 01:24 PM

Re: Defining Moments
George, I would like to add some additional comments. Your question has clearly bothered me, so I have done some homework to clarify this problem. In CCWAA one can find numerous references to the concept of psychosis, although Adler is using an older terminology which may partly sound somewhat strange to us. In Vol. 3, Ch. XIII On the Theory of Hallucination (1912), there is a discussion on this in pages 90 - 91. I do not quote the italicized paragraph beginning at the end of p. 90 because it is rather long. However, the end of the process leading to psychosis is "... in this condition of isolated human beings struggling for prestige, their ties having come undone, that the soul stumbles along the path of those lost to the community, the unreal world, and builds for itself a second world in which hallucination (read: psychosis) has validity because logic no longer matters so much."
There is another paper in Vol. 3, Ch. VII "The Life-Lie and Responsibility in Neurosis and Psychosis" (1914). "In the case of some psychotics, but also in neurotics, belligerence as well as accusations are not directed at a single person but at many, at times at all of humankind, at bisexuality, or at the order of the world. This condition is particularly acute in cases of paranoia. The total rejection of the world along with its condemnation is expressed in dementia praecox (read:schitzophrenia)."
Somewhere Adler says that gradiose ideas and compensatory and extreme feelings of superiority are always typical for psychotic persons. - When reading Adler's analyses, one understands why he thinks the limits between normal and abnormal are never absolute, only relative and flexible. So are the borders between neurosis and psychosis.

George Neeson October 10th, 2006 06:42 PM

Re: Defining Moments
Manu your care and careful research is deeply appreciated. I feel Adler is such a clear thinker but he organized information like salt and pepper. It is all there in "iron clad logic" but sure takes a lot of time and familiarity both with his theory and the texts to find it. Thank you again for your assistance and your collegial relationship is appreciated.

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