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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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