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Unread November 19th, 2004, 04:04 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Pt. II (A Study of Organ Inferiority)-Artists

I find two of Adler's comments about genius, especially interesting: "Genius is to be defined as no more than supreme usefulness;" and "the highest talent is conditioned by the greatest defect of which it gains is particular mode of concentration" (The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, edited by Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher, page 153). Manu, since I am not familiar with the work of Wilhelm Lange-Eichbaum, I did an Internet search, but found only documents in German. Does he link genius and pathology?

Below, are a few more excerpts about organ inferiority. However, the comment about Gustav Mahler is a fascinating "simulation of an inferiority."

Inferiorities of Size and Shape

Cradles of Eminence," by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, offers abundant examples of positive and negative compensations for physical inferiorities and disabilities.

Being smaller than other children, particularly if one is a boy can often make adjustment difficult. Some slight youths become belligerent; others withdraw. Fiorello LaGuadia, the dynamic and controversial mayor of New York was barely five feet tall. Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian born novelist and journalist, feeling inferior because of his shortness, turned to learning and away from social contact. T.E. Lawrence cursed his "littleness." Thomas Hardy, J.M. Barrie, Henry Ford, Hamlin Garland, Joseph Goebbles, Maurice Ravel, Adolf Hitler, and Mohandas Gandhi were small boys.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz suffered from a spinal deformity. Not only a great electrical engineer, he set up special programs for retarded children. William O. Douglas, justice of the Supreme Court, suffered from infantile paralysis. He eventually strengthened his thin legs by becoming an avid mountaineer. In addition to being small, Joseph Goebbles, limped all his life from a foreshortened leg. Although he idolized his devoted mother, he had bitter contempt for the rest of humanity. By contrast, Gustav Mahler did not limp because he was physically malformed; he reportedly limped because his mother was crippled and he wanted to share her pain with her. Ring Lardner wore braces on a misshapen foot. Eleanor Roosevelt, Bella Bartok, and Jane Adams had spinal problems. Joseph Stalin had a withered arm and webbed toes. Orozco, after he lost his left hand, resigned himself to becoming an artist. Constantin Stanislavksi became an actor to overcome clumsiness.
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D,

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Last edited by Henry Stein; November 19th, 2004 at 08:20 PM. Reason: Corrected spelling.
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Unread November 19th, 2004, 05:24 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Pt. II (A Study of Organ Inferiority)-Artists

Henry, since you mentioned Stalin among the historical persons, I would add following observation on him: there are some general traits that are common to Stalin and Hitler. Both were educated in families where the fathers were extremely cruel and barbaric persons. Both were physically abused as children. They had mothers who tried to protect them against the tyranny of their fathers and who spoiled them. According to Adler, this is a combination that leads to a risk that a criminal person may develop out of such a family-dynamics (although not all children with such families will develop criminal traits).
About Lange-Eichbaum: I have no idea whether this book was ever translated into english. Possibly not. The book is interesting, but its weakness is that it is a huge compilation of facts and theories. The authors have not always exercised their critical abilities and decided, what to take and what to leave. Anyway, it is interesting. There are, as I told you, a number of Adler-citations, one of them refers to the organ-inferiority work of 1907: "Aus Degeneration wird Neurose und daraus Genie durch Kompensation einer Organminderwertigkeit." I checked Stalin's pathography, and I find it very interesting. Stalin's paranoia is mentioned, as well as the psychopathic traits in his personality, but not his physical ailments. In Lange-Eichbaum's theory, there are different factors that help to make a genius: 1) the personality of the person in question, strong points, weak points, creativity ("Genie"), 2) the pathological traits ("Irrsinn"), and 3) social and cultural factors ("Ruhm"). So the final produkt, "Genius", is made up of different biological, psychological, and social-cultural factors. However, today the book makes a somewhat outdated impression. The concept of "race" plays some role in the book, although it is definitely not in the racist sense of the word. I have tried summarize here those traits that I consider having some interest today. Lange-Eichbaum feels that there are some racial differences between the different counties of Germany - I find this conception somewhat funny and over-stretched. It is very difficult to find any sense in such a conception, although the author may be right that there are some political and cultural centers where one may find a concentration of exceptionally talented people. Today, we think in a more global way and are more disposed to a cultural relativism.

Last edited by Manu Jaaskelainen; November 19th, 2004 at 05:25 PM. Reason: Some linguistic revisions
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Unread November 20th, 2004, 04:30 PM
Manu Jaaskelainen Manu Jaaskelainen is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Pt. II (A Study of Organ Inferiority)-Artists

Before we leave this inferiority-theme, I would like to mention some further ideas of some importance in this context. Organ inferiority and compensation are two things that belong together. This is a very early (1907!) analysis of the homeostatic principle, as applied to human organism as a whole. Compensation is a principle that helps to keep some kind of balance within the organism (Claude Bernard, "Interior milieu"), and/or between the organism and the environment (cybernetics). It was Cannon who systematicized these ideas in the psychosomatic field. Norbert Wiener and von Bertalanffy presented their ideas of positive and negative feedback, and of adaptive, self-correcting systems somewhat later on. I think that it is fruitful to compare Adler's early ideas with these later theories.
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Unread November 29th, 2004, 12:30 PM
Trevor Hjertaas Trevor Hjertaas is offline
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Default Re: Cumulative Discussion of Adler's Journal Articles, Vol. 2, Chapters I-XVII & SOI


The Canadian Journal of Adlerian Psychology is not available online, so individuals interested in past articles would need to contact Steve directly.

Trevor Hjertaas, Psy. D.
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