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  #141  
Unread December 31st, 2004, 12:58 AM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Exclamation Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

Libido vs. Social Interest, initial comments.

I suppose that both Freud and Adler were struggling to find an "energy system" that could efficiently drive the neurosis. Freud as a physician seemed enamoured with the purely mechanistic and deterministic model most commonly accepted in the medicine of his day. It is the model that falls out of the early understanding of Charles Darwin with his notion of “Natural Selection” and the survival of the species with sexual reproduction being at the forefront of mamalian species. I suppose therefore that it should be no surprise that his driving force maintaining neurosis had a sexual or more accurately a libidinal basis. In fairness he did differentiate between “ego instincts” and “sexual instincts” which he proposed produced the “neurotic conflict” by “repression”. I must say that although I was trained medically at University of Toronto, which at that time was very Psychoanalytical, I could never satisfy myself that I understood this notion. It did not “compute” in my uninformed mind and I have not endeavoured to more fully understand these notions rightly or wrongly!
Adler however, saw mankind as a social being in a social context with feelings of not being able to compete on a level playing field. He saw that each human sees himself in reference first to his mother, then his father, then his siblings until finally he sees himself in reference to the community of mankind to at least some degree. This assumes of course, a certain minimum level of cognitive ability. Each person looking around himself, draws in childhood, a set of comparative evaluations, based on the very limited repertoire of a child. These conclusions are stored relatively unchallenged in the child’s “private logic” and seem to persist unevaluated by adult logic driving the person's feeling states and behaviours like a GPS controlled autopilot in an aircraft with no properly evaluated destination other than the child's goal of fictional superiority. These feelings produce the “inferiority feeling” and the compensating goal of “Fictional Superiority” that he felt provided quite sufficient energy to sustain the neurosis.

Both men were quite correct in seeking that which sustains the neurotic problem. For myself, I am more comfortable with Adler’s notions, which is why I attempt to work as an Adlerian therapist. Work does require an energy source whether it be at the atomic level, at the level of propelling a car, or at the level of sustaining a neurosis. (Even quantum tunnelling requires a reduced energy level to escape the quantum energy well!)

The conflict grew between Freud and Adler until in 1911, Adler made the declaration in the journal that “The publisher Professor Freud, is of the opinion that the scientific differences between him and me are such that the joint publication of this periodical, in his view, seems inappropriate.” (1)

I understand that the “scientific differences” to which Adler refers, are to do with Freud’s libidinal theory and Adler’s social theory. They were not able to reach a mutually respectful compromise. Sadly this is not an uncommon outcome of scientific disagreements when the science is young and may even persist as the science matures. I feel reasonably confident in saying that Freud did not like to be disagreed with even in the pursuit of truth. Perhaps as knowledge increases, it will become evident that neither man was totally correct, but for this time as Adlerians, we find Adler’s social psychology more applicable and would like to suggest that it is capable of understanding a fellow man, very fully.



(1) CCWAA Volume III, Page 74
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  #142  
Unread December 31st, 2004, 12:45 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Lightbulb Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

A Side Track: Freud and Adler, the commonality!



I threatened in one of my early postings to view the philosophic underpinnings of the psychology of Adler and in this posting I should like to posit a notion that has been rattling around in my old mind for a few years. I wish to look at what Freud and Adler have in common, but my understanding of Freud is weak so this may need considerable revision with the able assistance of those visiting the Forums.



The structure of personality:

Freud:

Freud proposes his drive psychology with three basic “parts” to the human personality. First there is the “Ego” ( German, “Ich” means “I” in English). It arises purely on a mechanistic basis. The infant brain has sensory input channels, which function early and increasingly attempt to make order out of the noise of the environment. The Ego is therefore a creation of the child’s brain running with little constraint almost as a free running oscillator in an electronic system where the oscillator is triggered by the environmental inputs in vision, sound, touch, smell and even taste. The brain inherently attempts to organize this flood of data and if I understand his postulate, this organizational effort produces the “Ego”.

The Super Ego:

If I am correct, the brain, in response to the parents or other societal inputs, also creates the superego. Superego in German is "Uber Ich" which in English means "above I" in transliteration. He proposes that the child learns to fear rejection or punishment by the caregiver and produces a set of guidelines which later produce a kind of “conscience”. Thus the Superego is produced at a “social interface” and therefore Freud does not totally ignore the community aspect of the child’s development. The superego seems to “ride herd” on the aspects of brain function that will bring about societal disapproval.

The “Id” (“Es” in German… means “it” or a “thing” in English”), lies under the Ego and almost seems to be a result of chaotic activity of the brain running in every which direction, wishing to fulfil its lusty desires and it is always threatened by that nasty “Superego” which tries to keep it in check. For Freud there is a very large component of “sexual drive” running in this arena, but not sexual in the sense it is commonly used. He seems to find the “libido” thing under every turn in the road.

Freud sees the person as a sequence of internal conflicts wherein one is always at war with these primal instincts.

Adler:

Adler does not excuse the brain as a free running system but imposes the demands of social interest. Adler demands that a person functions “In the stream of human evolution” but “sub specie eaternitatis”. Adler sees the person as a unity not a tripartite system with internally generated conflicts, but rather as a unity, but a unity that is most often in conflict with the common good.



Now what is the integrating thing going on with these two theorists? I would like to propose that both are trying to find justification for the notion that humans must behave morally. Freud finds these notions to be internalised most commonly from the parents. Adler proposes that these notions must be internalised from the community.

But why should there be any need for a system of morality? It can be argued that if we are merely high functioning primates, we are the most damaging and dangerous primates on the planet. If there is no overarching notion of morality, it is not unreasonable to suggest that we should be eliminated from the planet. Only humans are able at the press of a red button, to destroy the earth. I feel rather strongly, that both of these minds are arguing to find a rational basis for right behaviour and this is where they really do converge.

Thus a very real philosophic underpinning of both psychologies is an attempt to propose a sufficient cause for human right behaviour. Freud agonized with the morass of human behaviour as he observed the horrors of the once proud German nation emerge in that terrible war. He was in dark despair about the human condition … perhaps unduly so. Adler maintained a relatively optimistic view of the human condition through the same time frame … perhaps simplistically so.

Well this is a very condensed discussion and for any readers trained in freud's psychology, I know I have not represented the theory at all well. I beg your indulgence. If I am utterly incorrect please post appropriate corrections.
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Last edited by George Neeson; January 1st, 2005 at 12:08 AM. Reason: clarity
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  #143  
Unread January 1st, 2005, 12:21 AM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Lightbulb Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

I have been too concise in the above discussion. The Uber Ich is indeed from above. I think from that it is not a stretch to imply an heirarchical structure and also a kind of "moral imperative" if you will. I understand that this could be seen to be "morallity at the end of a bayonet" rather than the morallity of good will, but it does seem to imply a moral structure that is not very flexible. After all it comes from the "oral tradition" of the family and therefore the culture. When I studied social anthroplology many years ago, I was surprised to find that an oral tradition is much more resistant to change than a written code. That which is written can be easily altered. That which is spoken orally resists change. If you do not believe this idea, try quoting "Mary had a little lamb" to a child and substitute "fleece was black as coal" for "white as wool" and you will be immediately corrected by a 5 year old and anyone else who is listening. So I am suggesting that Freud is implying a moral structure that is much more robust than many psychoanalysts will gladly acknowledge. This is how I see Freud and Adler both on a quest for a sufficient cause for moral behaviour. It is a bit convoluted, but if you consider this idea, I think it hangs together logically and brings the notion of a moral structure for humanity as a common theme that both these men sought.
Now I shall try to get my mind to settle back to the discussion of "The Masculine Protest" from Adler which anyone who knows his writings will realize is a major undertaking!
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Last edited by George Neeson; January 1st, 2005 at 09:53 AM. Reason: clarity
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  #144  
Unread January 1st, 2005, 02:50 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

George, your thesis of a commonality between Freud and Adler, i.e., both seeking justification for moral or right behavior, seems inconsistent with Adler's comments in his article "The Differences Between Individual Psychology and Psychoanalysis," in Superiority and Social Interest, edited by Heinz and Rowena Anasbacher, pages 205-218. Perhaps I am not seeing your point, but it seems to me that they are continents apart philosophically.

(Quoting excerpts from Adler in Ansbacher's book.)
Basic Difference

"Now I should like to show the decisive basic difference between psychoanalysis and Individual Psychology. It is not that Freud has taken up drive psychology, which was first created by Individual Psychology and was then left behind as incorrect when I brought the striving for significance to the foreground. This is not the basic difference. The difference is that Freud starts with the assumption that by nature man only wants to satisfy his drives-the pleasure principle--and must, therefore, from the viewpoint of culture be regarded as completely bad.

Concept of Human Nature

The Freudian view is that man, by nature bad, covers this unconscious badness through censorship merely to get along better in life. Individual Psychology, on the other hand, states that the development of man, by virtue of his inadequate physique, is subject to the redeeming influence of social interest, so that all his drives can be guided in the direction of the generally useful. The indestructible destiny of the human species is social interest. In Individual Psychology this is the truth; in psychoanalysis it is a trick.

Conclusion

The problem of the wholeness of the personality, which represents the essential contribution of Individual Psychology to modern medicine, appears in psychoanalysis as unessential. How this wholeness penetrates every psychological part-phenomenon and colors it individually is omitted from the considerations of psychoanalysis which, as if it were hypnotized, looks in each part for the sexual-libidinal structure. Although it would take us too far afield to prove in this paper, Freud's psychology is taken from the psychopathology of the pampered child, and describes it in sexual dialect.

Despite the many scientific contrasts between Freud and myself, I have always been willing to recognize that he has clarified much through his endeavors; especially, he has severely shaken the position of positivistically (materialistisch) oriented neurology and opened a wide door to psychology as an auxiliary science to medicine. This is his chief merit, next to his detective art of guessing through common sense. That he did not get any further is due to the limits of his personality and the limits of the personalities of his disciples.

In a future history of psychology and psychopathology Freud's doctrine will figure as the admirable attempt to describe, in the strongest expressions of sexual terminology, the psychological life of the pampered child as a generally valid psychology."
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  #145  
Unread January 1st, 2005, 04:18 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Question Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

What I am trying to address is the Freudian notion of the super ego as an introjection of the parent's moral code driven purely by the fear of punishment or rejection in the child. I do not understand Freud well enough to speak intelligently about the two philosophies but I do agree they are at polar opposite ends of the understanding of human behaviour. I just felt that Freud's notion of the Super ego might have a bit of a redeeming quality. Let me quote from a psychoanalytic text that I refer to from time to time. It is written by Otto Fenechel, M.D. and published by Norton in 1945. Here is a quote about the id, ego and super ego that may either clarify what I am saying or also may further muddy up the waters. Quote is from pages 18-19.


i8

THE PSYCHOANALYTIC THEORY OF NEUROSIS



The mental apparatus, however, does not consist only of an ego and an id. Its further development brings a further complication. Previously it was stated that the question as to the nature of the forces blocking discharge was the basic one of all psychology. In the main, these forces were thrust upon the mind by the environment. It is the consideration of reality that keeps the ego from immediately complying with the discharge drive of the impulses. However, such inhibiting tendencies, which according to the definition are derived from the ego, are not in all respects the opposite of "instinctual drives." Often, for example in ascetics or moral masochists, the anti-instinctual behavior betrays all the characteristics of an instinct. This contradiction can be explained genetically. The energy with which the ego carries out its instinct-inhibiting activities is drawn from the instinctual reservoir of the id. A portion of the instinctual energy is changed into counterinstinctual energy. A certain part of the ego which inhibits instinctual activity develops on the one hand closer to the instincts and on the other hand is in conflict with other parts of the ego that are hungry for pleasure. This part, which has the function (among others) of deciding which impulses are acceptable and which are not, is called the superego. While the ego is also a representative of the outside world, here again we have a special representative of the outside world within the first representative.



I wish a Freudian would engage in this discussion because although I agree that Freud saw mankind as utterly dark and he lived a life of misery because of this idea at least in part, but he did have a notion of morality resident in the person. He felt this moral notion is acquired and learned but Fenichel if he represents Freud correctly, refers to that which is "acceptable and unacceptable" as determined by the super ego.
Adler, on the other side of the coin, refers to the direction of a life as toward humanity or away. He does not suggest, if I am correct, that a human's first and normative movement will be toward mankind, but rather that "social interest" must be taught and learned.

I would appreciate any furhter comments in this regard. The basis of human right behaviour is of current and real interest in this post modernist society where the gold standard is "If it feels good, do it!" That sure is not social interest and also must fly in the face of the prompting of the super ego to the delight of the Id, in Freud's view.
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  #146  
Unread January 2nd, 2005, 11:42 AM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Unhappy Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

Just one further footnote. Freud's psychology should be embraced by religious fundamentalism in many of its forms, when it wishes to speak of the "utter depravity of mankind". Adler's psychology is full of hope with the notion that behaviour in a right direction can be both learned and taught. I do not recall any comments by Adler that evauate whether mankind should be viewed as good or bad. He remains faithful to what Sophia shared with you ... Adler watches the movement. That which is toward mankind is beneficial and to be encouraged. That which drawns down the human potential is useless and to be discouraged. In this regard Adler seems to be a better "scientist" looking at evidence and attempting to draw only supportable conclusions. Thus his psychology although very difficult to learn, seems more sensible and rational than the untestable notions of "Id", "Ego" and "Super Ego". I think I shall just continue discussing a bit more of the basics of his psychology and stay away from the netherland of my poor understanding of Freud's construction. That is going to bring a better benefit in this posting and I really wish I had not done the posting about morallity but I shall leave it in place to show what happens when I lose focus on the more important task. I shall leave "compare and contrast" to the scholars in future!
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  #147  
Unread January 3rd, 2005, 01:36 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

George has just alerted me that his high-speed ISP service in Canada is down again, resulting in very limited access through another dial-up connection. His posting activity may be severely limited until this service problem is solved. We appreciate your patience in this matter.
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  #148  
Unread January 9th, 2005, 10:52 AM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Smile Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

As of January 9th I have some service back . Once I am assured it is stable, I hope to resume the work on this thread, I appreciate everyones patience in the interim.
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  #149  
Unread January 9th, 2005, 11:01 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Lightbulb Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

Masculine Protest a start:
I quoted earlier that one about the hand that rocks the cradle ruling the world. Well it is just not true. granted a mother when she functions well, has a profound influence on the life of her child, but in the real world of mankind for far too long in recent history, and indeed for much of human history, women have been treated a less than men in almost all regards. Of the psychologies of his time, I believe that only Adler notices this sorry condition. He is the first modern psychologist who is a "healthy feminist". He sees clearly that men and women although physiological are somewhat different, they must be regarded as utter equals in the community of mankind. This is not happening and it may be used by a lady as an excuse from social contribution, or perhaps a weapon to rail against the injustice, instead of feeling and being free to be "one amongst the many" playing her fair and proper role and being regarded by men and women as an equal being. So ladies may choose to use this "fact" of societal construction to avoid the task of bringing their best contribution. They may also be in some regards, prevented from so doing, by the structure of our institutions and families because they are not regarded as having an equal and therefore valid view.
This is also a problem for men. If men must always be so strong and have all the answers, there is clearly no way they can do this. They may retreat from the task feeling overwhelmed, or they may attack the female sex to continue this unhappy subjugation. How many men play a full and balanced part in the family? Well from my generation, very few. A man might also feel it to be his "divine right" to have the last word and thus dominate women. This clearly removes him from the sage advice of 50% of the population which is not only unwise but also simply insane!
Now we do need to refer to some of Adler's actual writings in this regard. I have a number of his quotes from the "CCWAA" translation project that I hope to post and speak to a bit over the next few days.
Keep coming back. If my internet service is sustained this time, there is very much to talk about because this "masculine protest" notion is a key concept in understanding Adler!
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  #150  
Unread January 29th, 2005, 07:02 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Question Re: From the ground up ... an Adlerian primer??

This project seems to be becoming unmanageable. The theory is so comprehensive that it is almost impossible to know where to turn next. Any suggestions, questions or comments might assist me to know to where I should proceed. Above all do read the available books about this psychology!
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