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  #71  
Unread November 12th, 2004, 12:17 PM
Trevor Hjertaas Trevor Hjertaas is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Chapters XV-XVII (Prostitution and Neurosis)

As an aside, Henry's comments on the "prototype of superiority/depreciation" and "the mutually exploitive mischief that characterizes many corrosive sexual relationships" makes me think of a series of articles which Steve Slavik wrote for the Canadian Journal of Adlerian Psychology, analyzing many of the works of the author Alberto Moravia. These would likely be of interest if anyone is unaware of them.

Trevor Hjertaas, Psy. D.
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  #72  
Unread November 12th, 2004, 04:48 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Chapters XV-XVII (Prostitution and Neurosis)

Are the articles about Moravia's works available online, or would those who are interested have to contact Steve directly?
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  #73  
Unread November 12th, 2004, 05:40 PM
Henry Stein Henry Stein is offline
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Default Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Pt. II (A Study of Organ Inferiority)-Artists

Our next discussion of A Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Psychical Compensation starts November 15th. 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 abstract was created by James Wolf.

On November 6, 1905 Alfred Adler gave a talk to Freud's Psychoanalytic Circle titled "On the Organic Bases of Neuroses." This was apparently a follow-up of his earlier reported research into the "Physiology and Pathology of the Erotogenic Zones." His lecture previewed ideas that would be developed two years later in A Study of Organ Inferiority. The book profusely illustrated the nature of overcompensation and was appreciated by his Viennese medical colleagues and members of the Wednesday Psychological Society, who considered it a major contribution toward understanding the biological forces affecting neurotic development.

With a keen physician's insight, Adler takes us on a tour of the human body, offering the equivalent of a short course in physiology. He makes us aware of the interconnectedness of the body's organs and the internal and external conditions that may lead to disease. Consequently, there is an abundance of medical terms throughout the chapters. As a convenience to the reader, a glossary has been added.

Later in his writings, Adler shifted away from the idea of an organic root of neurosis, but his early insights and speculations about the interplay of organs, the environment, and the mind, are fascinating to explore.

When posting your comments or questions, please identify the chapter number and/or title at the beginning of your message. On November 22nd, this thread will be merged with the Volume 2 cumulative thread.
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  #74  
Unread November 12th, 2004, 07:34 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)

(This is a copy of an earlier message by George Neeson originally posted on another thread. It has be reproduced here to maintain topical consistency.)

The Theory of Organ Inferiority etc. CCWAA Volume II, Pages 78-85

Adler now enters the arena of what we might now call genetic accidents and deficiencies. He seems to be ahead of his time in seeing the many possible psychological implications of these accidents of nature as well as their trans generational nature. I recall working one very late night on the newly acquired "electron microscope" in the bowels of the Banting Institute at University of Toronto (a actually Dr Fred Best of Banting and Best was one of my clinical instructors in physiology), with DR. J. W. Steiner a most respected pathologist just out of the Hungarian revolution and here-to-for a Communist. We were reviewing at high magnification, the renal and liver "brush borders" of a man with multiple system diseases any one of of which should have killed him. The multiple system organ compensations that adapted and allowed this man to live long after reason would have predicted his death caused Dr Steiner to exclaim in a very heavy Hungarian accent, "Jees, when you see adaptations like this, it is enough to make a communist religious". The organ adaptations are amazing. The psychological adaptations of humans are even more astounding. As a physician I have seen many people with devastating disabling illnesses. The most usual response is one of astounding courage with occasional people who use disability for what Adler later calls "primary gain". On the bottom of page 79, Adler points this out as he says, " the tendency toward overcoming is infused within the genes". Now for his later thought, this is a bit mechanistic, but it probably has more truth than we would wish to acknowledge!
On page 80 he makes another leap when he mentions that the organ inferiorities are "overcome with increased mental activity". As a physician I have quite commonly seen this happen. One this same page he goes on to say, "Adapting to life burdened by an inferior organ brings with it corresponding psychological problems." Now I would have expected him to say that they would be adverse, but that is not what he notices, because on the top of page 81 he says about these inferior organs and their life expression, that they "could be either advantageous or disadvantageous". He goes on to develop the difference between the physiological and psychological manifestations. On page 81 he correctly guesses that the brain is not hard wired with copper and solder but is constantly growing and changing itself when he says "If brain compensation correlates with organ inferiority" .... to
"This would mean that originally inferior eyes would psychologically provide greater insight" Now this is a quantuum leap if ever I saw one. Indeed we now know that the brain is constantly recreating itself under the influence of "Nerve Growth Factor" such that the use of cognitive and affective strategies actually opens and closes neuronal pathways and facilitates or defacilitates the function of those areas of the brain that do or enable a task. NGF is a recent discovery and. no surprise to those of us who try to follow Adler's thinking, he "presages" that idea at a time when brain was thought to be fully and immutably structured be the late teen years! On page 81 he makes an utterly key statement when in speaking of an inferior digestive system he says, "its superstructure governs and pulls into its domain the other psychological system". What an interest compensation by the mind. He further developes this notion in relationship to averice. I have pasted a clip in here as follows fro page 83:

"A wealthy man who makes expensive gifts, who eats in a fancy restaurant, is
very hungry and takes a long walk, therein lies a considerable discomfort which can
be rationalized when we presume the patient is just as avaricious as his father;
however, being highly refined does not permit him to be avaricious. It is possible for
him to act this way only if it would not be a violatation of his culture, i.e. the saving of a
few pennies which, if necessary, he could justify on health grounds. Otherwise he is
very magnanimous, albeit not without paying for his magnanimity with a nervous attack."

Here he has, for the first time as far as I can recall, mentioned the huge cost of the "fictional goal of superiority". He even suggests "organ inferiority of brain" in delusional patients on page 84. He suggests that the hallucinations and delusions are a manifestation of over-compensation and that would seem to fit with some of the clinical experience of Adlerians who have had success in working with "psychotic disorders" without medication, because they remove the goal to which the overcompensation is directed ... away from the community of mankind.

Finally Adler notes that organ inferiorities can be greatly beneficial as in the quote that follows here from this same chapter:

"Research conducted in art institutes showed that approximately 70% of the students suffered from eye anomalies.I have frequently found that speakers, actors, and singers have organ inferiorities.
The Bible relates that Moses suffered from a heavy tongue and his brother had the gift of speech. Demosthenes, who stuttered, became Greece's most renowned speaker, and the speech given by Camille Demoulin, who normally stuttered, was reported by his contemporaries to have flowed like liquid gold. The same applies to musicians who quite often suffer from ear illnesses. Beethoven, Robert Franz, Smetana, all of whom lost their hearing, are offered as well known examples. Klara Schumann, speaking about her life, reported having had lapses in being able to hear and speak during childhood.Far from trying to present these details as evidence, their purpose is merely to draw the reader's attention to the theory of organ inferiority's broad spectrum and its
relationship to philosophy, psychology, and aesthetics."


Dr. Adler was a skillfull and most observant physician. There are some small advantages to being trained to observe the human organism and its various adaptations to disease states as a physician (OK let me believe that please! ).
Finally, look at Adler's picture on Henry's web page and what do you see? He wears glasses. They seem to be quite heavy negative lenses. He has an organ inferiority of his own eyes but how well he sees.
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  #75  
Unread November 16th, 2004, 01:56 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)

Organ Inferiority of the Eyes

The new Second Edition of Cradles of Eminence," by Victor and Mildred Goertzel, expands their earlier examination of 400 childhoods of famous men and women to 700. Chapter 8, "Children With Handicaps," provides several illustrations for Adler's theory of compensation for organ inferiority. Starting with vision problems, they point out that Helen Keller and Ved Mehra were totally blind; and eye disorders were suffered by Rudyard Kipling, Aldous Huxley, Sean O'Casey, and Syngman Rhee. Harry Truman, Lafcadio Hearn, Reginald Fessenden, Louis Brandeis, Emile Zola, James Joyce, Carl Sandburg, and william James were less drastically affected by poor eyesight.

Eye Diseases and Artists

In "Eye Disease Among the Impressionists: Monet, Cassatt, Degas, and Pissarro," (J. Ophthalmic Nurs Technol. 1994 Sep-Oct;13, 5, 217-22.) J.G. Ravin claims that many of the most famous artists working in France late in the 19th century suffered serious eye diseases. The case reports are interesting because of the light they shed on important artists and their methods of dealing with adversity.

In "Eye Disease in Painters--Camille Pissaro," (Oftalmologia. 2001;53, 3, :84-8.), P. Cernea states that some vision disorders of painters have influenced their work. Camille Pissarro, the impressionist, suffered forty-eight years from dacryocystitis on his left eye and ipsilateral conjunctive chemosis. Due to this chronic disease he was forced to paint inside, behind closed windows, in order to avoid dust and wind. This situation influenced the subjects of his painting, which reflected large crowds on Paris avenues.

Michael F. Marmor, M.D., professor of ophthalmology in the Stanford School of Medicine and a leading scholar at the interface of medicine and the arts, and has done research and clinical work in the field of retinal diseases. He has written several books and more than 200 articles about medicine and the visual aspects of art, history, music, and sports. "The Eye of the Artist" (with James G. Ravin, M.D., Mosby, 1997) explored the relationship of vision and eye disease to art, and "Degas Through His Own Eyes" (Somogy, 2002) looks at late works of Degas through the blur of his failing vision to show how his eyesight may have influenced his art.

Konrad Volkert, the German printmaker had problems with his eyesight that curbed his printmaking activities. An innate eye-disease restricted his artistic work to not more than two hours per day.
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  #76  
Unread November 16th, 2004, 04:43 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)

In the above discussion, George Neeson has given his general comments on Adler's "A Study of Organ Inferiority", and Henry has given some valuable references to studies concerning artists and eye diseases. In this comment, I'll concentrate on some specific questions, especially as I consider George Neeson's comments rather complete and full. - In the first place, is Adler's study a study in general biology, pathophysiology, clinical physiology, or psychosomatic medicine? This is not a purely academic question, because Adler was already well versed with the psychological perspective. Now he publishes a study that seems to deviate from his main line of intellectual development that was from biologial to psychological perspective. Even if this was how things looked as seen from outside, an inside view might give a different impression. In the first place, the biological viewpoint was deeply rooted in the contemporary psychological theorizing. Biological themes were constantly present in Freud's Wednesday Society. I find it probable (and this is a tentative conslusion that is open to criticism) that Adler wanted to present his own theory for a scientific basis of psychology. Please remember that even later on Adler spoke of "our science" when he spoke about individual psychology. This basis was clinical pathology, and, more generally, general biology. The keyword was "organ inferiority". So there is absolutely no discrimination or prejudice hidden behind this combination of words that may today sound somewhat politically incorrect. (I would personally advice you to avoid using this word before a general public, not well versed with psychological theories.)
I refer to the last chapter VIII "The Biological Viewpoint..." where Adler concludes that heredity is a significant factor in the development of organ inferiority. This chapter provides you with a grand biological perspective where human beings are struggling in the world, doing their best with the defective biological instruments they have available. The whole chapter is strongly influenced by Darwin (and possibly by his German contemporary, Weissman). It is almost existential in its outlook: human being in an inhospitable world ("geworfen"), equipped with defective biological means for survival. On the other hand, Adler has a very clear view about the stressful effect of the environment: "The struggle with the hostile influences of life ..." (p. 176).
Another interesting feature is the emphasis Adler gives for urinary apparatus. In the Appendix, Adler gives a presentation of the factors influencing bed-wetting (enuresis). That the biological factors were on the agenda of the early Freud-group, is reinforced by the fact that this paper is based on an article that was meant to be published in a medical encyclopaedia edited by Dr. Max Kahane, himself one of the members of Freuds early group, the Wednesday Society. Adler knows well the intimate connections that the urinary system has with central nervous system, and his discussion of some urinary problems in children is charming. He refers to some old tricks that many parents use even today, and that were mentioned by Shakespeare himself (the reference to Shylock!). Adler refers to some important connections that the urinary system may have with later psychological and psychosomatic development.
In discussing the intimate connections that the visuo-perceptual system has with the central nervous system, it is good to keep in mind the close embryological connections the eye has with the brain-system. Take any basic textbook on neurology that contains a chapter on the embryology of the CNS, and you will see how close the connection really are. Add to this that Adler started his career as ophthalmologist, so you will easily be convinced that the visuo-perceptual system and its biological foundations have a special role in the development of Adler's ideas concerning organ inferiority.

Last edited by Manu Jaaskelainen; November 18th, 2004 at 08:35 AM.
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  #77  
Unread November 17th, 2004, 02:27 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

That Adler meant his theory of organ inferiority serve as a general biological foundation for a forthcoming psychology seems to be reinforced by Ch. VII, "The Part Played By The Central Nervous System...". In this chapter, Adler explores the organ inferiorities and their possible correlates in the functining of the CNS. There are strong influences from Freud and Darwin here, e.g. "... the inferior organs meet with difficulties and dangers everywhere, a fact which corresponds to their natural relation to their surroundings, and which shows the real basis of Darwin's theory of natural selection." (p. 168). This situation compels the CNS to function with more intensity and efficiency, in order to compensate for the organ inferiority. This may be a factor contributing to heightened activity in the CNS, and leading the individual to high-level achievements in such fields as arts, sciences, and culture. At this stage of his intellectual development, Adler would refer to the general biological basis of organ inferiority and its compensations in order to explain the birth of such phenomena.
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  #78  
Unread November 17th, 2004, 04:26 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

Problematic Vision as Potential Artistic Asset

Manu, your historical perspective on Adler's theory of organ inferiority brings the significance of his emerging theory into sharper focus. Following your comment on the visuo-perceptual system, I was prompted to search further on the Internet and found these items.

Vision problems may be giving us unique perspectives which make us more original thinkers, wiser workers, better artists, or just more totally available to life. Vision problems of painters and poets such as van Gogh (poisoned from paints he ate), Cezanne (myopic, refused to wear glasses!) and John Milton, (who went blind), can be aesthetic plus factors, argues Patrick Trevor-Roper, in his book, The World Through Blunted Sight. For instance, Trevor-Roper maintains that people whose primary input and output modes are visual, literary and mathematic tend to be myopic and thus exhibit a myopic personality. Because they can only see well in close-up, their work is characterized by imagery that can be viewed only at close range. The mechanism which causes shortsightedness (an elongated eyeball) also influences perception of color: reds look more precisely defined. Cataracts can change the way we see color by blurring and reddening our vision. (The British painter Turner, who had a penchant for painting sunsets of 'fiery elegance,' was quite myopic.) After Monet had his cataracts operated on, he found his most recent work ghoulishly colored and lacking in blue. He went on to produce a few blue and blue-green-hued masterpieces. Georgia O'Keefe, who suffered from age-related macular degeneration, gradually lost the center of her field of vision. She continued to paint, however, with what was left of her peripheral vision. Some of the works she made during the years of her waning eyesight are among her most powerful. (From http://www.laeyeworks.com/visioncare/art.html)

Harvard scientist Margaret S. Livingstone first noticed it while standing in a gallery in the Louvre two years ago: In Rembrandt's self-portraits, his eyes seemed to be misaligned. Back at Harvard Medical School, Livingstone and a colleague looked at more of his many self-portraits and found others with his left eye looking outward, which probably indicated a disorder called amblyopia or lazy eye. Consequently, Rembrandt probably had little depth perception, which might have actually been an asset, since artists have to depict a three-dimensional world on a flat canvas, Livingstone said. Livingstone and another Harvard neurobiologist, Bevil R. Conway, who is also an artist, wrote about their observations in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "My hunch is because Rembrandt had one eye that consistently deviated, that he probably did have poor vision in that eye. But you can't tell that without testing," she said. (For more information, check www.biopsychology.com/.)
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  #79  
Unread November 17th, 2004, 10:07 PM
George Neeson George Neeson is offline
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Default Re: Discussion of CCWAA, Vol.2, Pt. II (A Study of Organ Inferiority)-Artists

Then add to this list the hearing impaired Beethoven. I believe I read somewhere that he most probably suffered from otosclerosis which causes severe conductive hearing loss. The high frequencies are affected first and most severly. Beethoven used an organ compensation if you will, to overcome this loss. He used a stick clenched between his teeth to the sound board of the piano forte and heard his music by bone conduction. I doubt he would have been as prolific and wonderful a composer had he been constantly distracted by the babble of human voices, and the assault of cacaphonous noise around him. No, instead he listened to the sweet sounds that would well up in his soul and committed them to the staves on paper so we could rejoice in the glory of the Ninth and Schiller's Ode to Joy (WOW).
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  #80  
Unread November 18th, 2004, 05:16 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

I have two favourite textbooks of neurology: the German-language textbook by Werner Fischel (Grundzüge des Zentralnervensystems des Menschen) and Ernest Gardner's "Fundamentals of Neurology" (Fourth edition, 1963). I take a citation from Gardner concerning the embryological connection between the optical system and the brain: "The superior colliculi [in midbrain} are concerned with visual functions, the inferior with auditory functions." (p. 15). So the visual system is in a way a direct outgrowth of the brain.
Concerning the "great persons": My own basic reference has for many years been a German-language book, "Genie, Irrsinn und Ruhm. Genie-Mythus und Pathographie des Genies". Its original author was Wilhelm Lange-Eichbaum. As he died in 1949, the subsequent editions have been completed and edited by Wolfram Kurth. The original edition appeared in 1927, and my edition (sixth) is dated 1967. The language is quite old-fashioned, but there are some very good insights about the "great persons". The book is divided in three main parts, first part is concerned with the general theory of "genius", the second part consists of "pathographies" of significant personalities, and the third part of (mainly German-language) literature. The authors are well-versed with Adler's contributions, although their main occupation is the development of Lange-Eichbaum's own theory of "Genius".
Almost all the examples mentioned by Henry are to found in this book. Of course, there are some new studies coming out all the time. E.g. a Finnish professor of neurology, Erkki Kivalo, has written a study on van Gogh, where he argues that van Gogh's illness was caused by Menières disease, not (primarily) by any mental problems, or by epilepsy.

Last edited by Manu Jaaskelainen; November 18th, 2004 at 05:20 PM. Reason: Minor linguistic corrections
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