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  #41  
Unread October 29th, 2004, 12:40 PM
James Wolf James Wolf is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters XI & XII (Aggression)

Trevor, I appreciate your comment as it provoked some thoughts about this notion of the aggression drive. When Adler writes in this article of the aggression drive clearly being seen at birth and as a compensatory force helping inferior organs achieve gratification in the face of the demands of enviornment, I read that though this drive may have unfortunate consequences at times (maybe often) that his writing implies that it is a necessary force for our survival and also for human progress. hence i don't think he would see it as something so much to be "overcome", but rather to be shaped and directed by social interest. But perhaps I'm reading meaning into your expression that you didn't intend or getting the wrong meaning myself. Any thoughts??
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  #42  
Unread October 29th, 2004, 03:18 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Discussion of CCWAA, Vol. 2, Chapters XIII & XIV (Child's Need for Affection)

Our next discussion of Chapters XIII & XIV, starts November 1st. To prepare, order your copy of Volume 2 of "The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler" at http://go.ourworld.nu/hstein/cw-v2.htm. The following chapter abstracts were created by James Wolf.

Chapter XIII: In "The Child's Need for Affection, published in 1908, Adler discusses the child's need for affection and the importance for a certain amount of gratification of that need. He explains how the need for affection extends to those outside of the immediate family, it's importance in the development of social feeling, and how "cultural exposure" is important in directing the need. Lack of cultural exposure, for example, has a negative effect, leading to the seeking of too much immediate gratification, self-centeredness and other difficulties. He addresses the consequences of denying the child's need for affection and it's gratification: the assumption of an aggressive posture to the world and the impairment in the development of social feeling.

Chapter XIV: "The Theory of Organ Inferiority and Its Philosophical and Psychological Meaning," written in 1908 explains Adler's theory of organ inferiority, psychological compensation, and overcompensation. He begins with an explanation of the meaning of the word "inferiority" and how it is used in relation to the body's organs, going on to explore the compensatory relationships between the body's organs and it's systems, heredity, the striving for compensation and various kinds of organ anomalies. Adler connects environmental pressures, organ inferiority, thought, psychology and the development of philosophy as interrelated processes. Lastly, he illustrates cases of organ inferiority and psychological compensation. (This chapter will prepare the reader for our upcoming discussion of "A Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Psychic Compensation.")

When posting your comments or questions, please identify the chapter number and/or title at the beginning of your message. On November 8th, this thread will be merged with the Volume 2 cumulative thread.
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  #43  
Unread October 30th, 2004, 04:26 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-X

A small note concerning the publication-data of Chapter X in CCWAA, Vol. 2: The paper "Developmental Defects in Children" was published in 1907 as Adler tells, but it was published for the first time in "Österreichischer Arbeiter Kalender für das Jahr 1907" (Austrian Worker's Calendar for the Year 1907). This annual publication was widely read among Austrian working-people, and it had a large circulation and a good reputation. See H.Ruediger Schiferer, Helmut Gröger & Manfred Skopec, Alfred Adler. Eine Bildbiographie. Ernst Reinhardt, München & Basel, p. 71. The paper was published in a publication with handsome fin de siècle graphic decorations in a form of a beautifully designed book. Adler's style in this paper is high-flown and solemn. The obvious intention of this choice of style is to speak to the workers and to emphasize how important they are as human beings, parents and educators: "We fight for proper homes, adequate pay, for dignified work, for solid knowledge so that they [the children] shall be secure in all this [air, light, and nourishment]. Our sweat, that is their peace; their health, that is our struggle." The publication-data in CCWAA are taken from Ansbacher & Ansbacher, Superiority and Social Interest. Ansbachers studied all professional Journals of Adler's time in order to be able to trace the original publication data for Adler's papers, but this paper was published in an annual publication aimed at lay public. Only recent research has brought to daylight the original source of "Developmental Defects".
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  #44  
Unread October 30th, 2004, 07:45 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-X

Manu, thank you for your attention to detail and devotion to accuracy. The next edition of Volume 2 will include this clarification. This example of "international proofing" via a discussion forum illustrates one of the useful opportunities offered by the Internet.
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  #45  
Unread November 1st, 2004, 12:42 PM
Robert L. Powers Robert L. Powers is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters XI & XII (Aggression)

Here is a late (too late?) addition to the comments on the aggression drive and other early formulations.

Temporal progression in the development of Adler's thinking is difficult to discern in papers revised for publication in 1922, though originally written in 1908. If in a particular passage what we have before us is the original text, we might then conclude that, before he read Vaihinger, Adler had already gained a sense of the place of fictions in theory. Is this true? Here is the passage I have in mind:

"In this context, 'drive' should mean no more than an abstraction, a sum of elementary functions of the particular organ and its related nerves which were created and developed by force of the outside world and by its demands. The goal of the 'drive' is governed by the needs of the organ for gratification, and the attainment of pleasure from the environment."

By whatever measure one chooses to apply, this is not a clear statement. It has about it the feeling of an amalgam, which to discover would require our comparing the 1908 text with the revision of 1922.

Is anyone at leisure to produce a close study of this kind? It would certainly be a contribution to our understanding of the way in which Adler worked out his ideas. This would help us to see him as a fellow man, under the duress of his situation among colleagues, finding his way toward a new, more dynamic and fluid way of thinking about the dynamic and fluid reality of life. At the same time we might feel some sympathy for a a 52 year old man, reluctant to trash some older manuscripts on which he had worked so hard when he was 38, in which he could still see some merit.

As we know, he did finally give up the effort to describe life in terms of drives, and turned whatever lingering embarrassment he might have felt about the aggression drive's place in his thinking into a joke about having given it as a gift to the psychoanalysts, who were now welcome to it.

But this was not before he allowed himself an effort at pasting some new ways of thinking on to an old way, and offering the social feeling as a "regulatory mechanism" in some sort of "concurrence" with aggression, which, I confess, appears to me as nothing so much as a muddle. No wonder he was finally moved to give it up entirely.

Bob Powers
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  #46  
Unread November 1st, 2004, 01:35 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters XI & XII (Aggression)

Bob, it is never too late to post a message about a topic, even if the current, active focus seems to be elsewhere. The structure of these threads allows any topic to stay open for later thoughts. Rather than the rushed climate of a chat room, the discussion forum invites more thoughtful incubation and a refined expression of ideas. I especially liked your comment suggesting some sympathy for Adler's gradual evolution of his theory. Perhaps if we all had spent evenings with him and his associates at the Cafe Siller in Vienna, we would have gained a more vivid impression of his emerging thinking, as well as the inevitable questions and challenges.
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  #47  
Unread November 1st, 2004, 04:58 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-XII

Bob, deplorably I don't have text of 1922 at hand now but I suppose that Adler did'nt change his text of 1908 in a new, later edition. What Adler really thought, can be derived from his text from a paper published in 1931, on compulsion neurosis. You may find the relevant text in Ansbacher & Ansbacher, Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, on page 38: "In 1908 I hit upon the idea that every individual really exists in a state of permanent aggression, and I was imprudent enough to call this attitude the 'aggression drive'. But I soon realized that I was not dealing with a drive, but with a partly conscious, partly irrational attitude towards the tasks which life imposes; and I gradually arrived at an understanding of the social element in personality, the extent of which is always determined by the individual's opinion of the facts and the difficulties of life." In Ansbacher & Ansbacher, you may find some additional comments on Adler's drive-concept.
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  #48  
Unread November 2nd, 2004, 10:46 AM
Trevor Hjertaas Trevor Hjertaas is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-XII

James, I do agree with you that Adler must have initially viewed the "aggression drive" as something necessary for our survival, but it seems to me that his thought altered in many important ways. In terms of his view of infancy, Adler, of course, later perceived the interaction between mother and child as a cooperative one, infants being seen more benevolently than Adler seems to have done so here.

As I'm sure you well know, Ansbacher and Ansbacher maintained that the "aggression drive" itself evolved in time into the masculine protest, and then into various manifestations of the striving for superiority, and finally into the striving for perfection. Is it not this upward movement that is necessary for humanity's progress, no matter what we name it? (I also agree with you that this upward striving needs to be shaped by social interest).

What I was speaking of was hostile or aggressive intents which might be in the individual or might be encountered by the individual in his or her dealings with certain people in the world, that "partly conscious, partly irrational attitude towards the tasks which life imposes" (such as interacting with others) which Manu cites in the comment above. Competition, cruelty, and vindictiveness are sadly all-too-prevalent and Adler was keenly aware of this. Such aggressive elements in life often oppose the upward striving of the individual and the person must either overcome such influences (in some way or other) or become discouraged. Fortunately, most of us are exposed to good fellow human beings who help us realize our goals and encourage us in our views of others, but many of those among our clients have either not had these positive experiences, or have become "blind" to those which do exist in their lives. So what I was proposing was that contemporary Adlerians could retain an awareness of the aggressive, competitive nature of human existence in its present state of evolution and help our clients overcome any difficulties associated with this in their lives. I believe that when Adler (and you) refer to "survival" and - to a certain extent - "the demands of the environment" this is saying much the same thing, since I think that Adler wasn't saying that social interest was widespread in the world, but that it could be. Humanity needs to encourage it's growth, but - realistically - we cannot do this unless we are aware of its opposite.

Thank you for your comments, and I look forward to reading your further thoughts on the matter.

Trevor Hjertaas, Psy. D.
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  #49  
Unread November 2nd, 2004, 04:33 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-XII

I would like to make a small addition to this aggression-debate. We should remember that not everything that looks like aggression, is really aggression . Just two examples: George Kelly speaks of the person's need to define for herself a certain psychological area. One could use here Kurt Lewin's language and say that every person has the right to some psychological space that is her own. So if someone is trying to expand his/her own psychological space, she may use forceful means to make her voice heard. This is not necessarily any kind of aggression. Another example: during their psychological development, children have a "throwing around" period (I am not sure about the correct english term). They enjoy throwing around different objects, like toys, books, or even food. This leads to conflicts with the parents, and this kind of behavior is often interpreted as aggression. However, it has been demonstrated that this is a normal phase in the psychomotor development of children. The brain-muscle system needs this kind of activity in order to develop the child's psychomotor coordination. It is necessary for the development of interactive functions of the brain. However, most of us agree that these activities must be restrained in some way, but total prohibition could possibly prove damaging for the development of child. I think it is easy to find more examples of behaviors that are only apparently aggressive (like clumsy behavior, temper tantrums etc.).

Last edited by Manu Jaaskelainen; November 3rd, 2004 at 04:54 PM. Reason: Some minor revisions
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  #50  
Unread November 2nd, 2004, 05:36 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol. 2, Chapters XIII & XIV (Child's Need for Affection)

It is known that the paper "The Child's Need for Affection" was at least partly written as a response to Freud's criticism of the aggression-paper. Freud did'nt like the aggression-paper (Chapter XI), and Adler was willing to demonstrate that aggression may be discussed meaningfully without forgetting that positive emotions have at least as strong significance as aggression. At this stage, Adler could not suspect that whatever he wrote, would be worthless in Freud's eyes. In other words, the political struggle within the Vienna-society had begun. It is remarkable that the concept "social feeling" is used in this paper in a number of places. "A child's need for affection should be gratified not for pleasure alone but above all for a culturally effective purpose. The child will not be denied gratification when it can be attained at a cultural level because the child's drive for affection is rooted in the organic ground of social feeling and aims at self-assertion." (p. 77). Adler warns for leaving the child alone, "cut off from all objects of gratification." In this case, the social feelings remain rudimentary and aggressive behavior may be the result. This paper anticipates many Adler's later ideas. One of these ideas is the classification of challenges life poses for human persons. If there is lack of positive early emotions, the child is ill prepared for future challenges. On the other hand, early positive emotional experiences serve as a kind of personal reserve in later life.
Chapter XIV on "Organ Inferiority" summarizes Adler's ideas about a theoretical conception that plays a very important role in Adler's thinking. Adler's discussion of the concept of organ inferiority anticipates his later, more psychologically oriented ideas about inferiority and superiority. Adler seems to think that organ inferiority needs to be compensated somehow. In order to do this, the central nervous system is a kind of superstructure that is the most flexible and the most efficient one: "... in favorable cases the inferior organ has the psychologically more efficient superstructure whose psychological phenomena ... would be more ample and more highly developed." (p. 81). I believe that this is the most important statement in this paper, although there are a number of very good observations about different psychological and physiological phenomena. - In this paper Adler also expresses for the first time his idea that inferiority may be a general trait that is characteristic for the humanity as a whole (p. 82). Some of the highest achievements of humanity are correlated with human inferiority. For philosophically-minded people there is even a very interesting reference to G.W.F.Hegel (p. 83) that anticipates Adler's later ideas concerning the dialectics of emotions. The idea of overcompensation is here developed in a very detailed manner. The many examples taken from culrural life make this paper very interesting reading.
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