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Unread October 18th, 2004, 03:13 PM
Trevor Hjertaas Trevor Hjertaas is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: St. Thomas, Ont.
Posts: 36
Default Re: Comments on Adlerian teleology

I believe Dostoievsky's novel which Manu mentions is published as "Notes from the Underground" in English.

I have enjoyed reading the comments on "determinism" and wanted to make a few of my own.

I personally think that we Adlerians do (and should) make moral judgments as to what is right and wrong (or what seems to be within the spirit of social interest and what does not), but we also - as George and James mention - do not blame individuals for having made the choices they have (recognizing that these choices were made within the context of the individual's early environmental situation and that he or she may not be entirely conscious of having made them - bringing these into awareness being one of the tasks of psychotherapy). We also recognize that we do not have all the answers, working within the uncertainty of sub specie aeternitatis.

As James notes, difficulties arise when the individual wishes to avoid responsibility for actions through pleading "insanity" in one form or another. This is an extremely important point, for as Manu wisely notes, freedom is only possible in a society governed by some law and order. Although I certainly do not have any solution for this dilemma, I have recently submitted an article (to the Canadian Journal of Adlerian Psychology, which Steve Slavik edits) examining Albert Camus' novel "The Stranger" from an Adlerian perspective and which touches on this question. In one of his notebooks, Camus discusses a case similar to that of his protagonist, Meursault, in which he is horrified that the examining psychiatrist was able to completely overlook numerous signs of underlying psychopathology and to declare the person fit to stand trial. Camus, like Adler, concluded that such people require treatment far more than punishment (Camus was also strongly influenced by Nietzsche). However, unlike many of his more revolutionary fellow philosophers, Camus did not lose sight of the need to protect the innocent in society as well. And so we're left with this difficult question of what to do with cases such as the one mentioned by George. My own inclination would be for mental health professionals to evaluate for risks as necessary but also to advocate for treatment whenever possible, attempting to discriminate when we can encourage ourselves by ignoring a possibly poor prognosis (as Dreikurs advised) and when we have to recognize our limitations, apply what little has been shown to be effective, and rely on external constraints (as in cases of extreme psychopathy). I would think that an Adlerian approach to assessment could effectively augment other methods employed more commonly today and thus be most helpful in devising such strategies appropriately (which is far from being a perfect solution, I know, but the Adlerian practitioner - like everyone else - is called to function within the uncertainty of life, as Adler himself frequently pointed out).

Trevor Hjertaas, Psy. D.
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