Freud & Adler Essay

Freud had invited Adler and other physicians to meet with him to discuss his theories. This began the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Adler was asked to present three papers to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society which pointed out the differences between Freud and his own theories. The differences were so great Adler resigned from the society and broke all ties with Freud. The purpose of this paper is to describe the differences between Freud and Adler. The Freud’s view of human nature is deterministic and he claimed our behavior is determined by irrational forces, unconscious motivation, and biological and instinctual drives (Corey, 2009).

This meant that things had causes and the causes are found in the unconscious. Freud’s levels consciousness and unconsciousness are the keys to understanding behavior and the problems of personality (Corey, 2009). Dream analysis was useful in getting at the unconscious, because dreams arise from the desires of the unconscious (Lunden, 1989). Adler objected to the dichotomy between consciousness and unconsciousness as an old fashioned dualism in the division of the mind in two parts (Lunden, 1989).

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Adler felt the personality was not split into different parts but rather unified. Adler did not think human behavior was determined only by heredity and environment. According to Lunden (1989) he “stressed teleogy: how future goals can affect present behavior” (pg. 146). There was no distinction between the unconscious and the conscious Adler thought of everything as a whole. In the development of personality Freud contributed the psychosexual stages. These refer to the Freudian chronological phases of development which begin in infancy.

There are three stages of development that Freud believed brought people into counseling (Corey, 2009). The first stage is the oral stage. The oral stage deals with the failure to trust others and self which can make it difficult to form loving relationships. Another stage is called the anal stage which deals the inability to recognize and express anger. The third stage is the phallic stage which is the ability to accept one’s sexuality. These three areas of social and personal development all happen in the first six years of their life.

According to Corey (2009) this the period in which foundation of later personality is built (pg. 66). If a child’s needs are not met in these stages they may become fixated on these stages and have difficulty later in life (Corey, 2009). Freud thought the personality consisted of three systems the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the primary source of psychic energy and the seat of interest (Corey, 2009). The ego governs, controls, and regulates the personality. The ego is the intelligence and rationality that checks and controls the blind impulses of the id.

The superego includes a person’s moral code and whether an action is good or bad also their traditional values or ideals handed down from parents to children. Adler had different approach to personality development and stressed understanding the whole person. The dimensions of a person are interconnected components and these components are unified by the individual’s movement toward a life goal (Corey, 2009). Adler believed the individual begins to form an approach to life in the first six years of living.

Rather than sexual urges Freud posed Adler felt behavior is purposeful and goal orientated. Adler felt Freud over valued the sex instinct and considered Freud’s sex is everywhere as a misrepresentation of facts (Lunden, 1989). Adler attempted to view the world from the client’s subjective frame of reference or known as the phenomenological frame of reference (Corey, 2009). This subjective reality takes into account the individual’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings, values, and beliefs. Adler saw individuals first and foremost as social creatures, forming goals and striving to meet them.

Where Freud talked about the superego managing our behavior, Adler conceived of the role of values. He thought the well adjusted individual directs his or her strivings for superiority in the direction of an improvement of society and human welfare (Lunden, 1989). Essentially Adler saw mental health in terms of having healthy values, which affect what goals we try to achieve, and having both the confidence and the ability to achieve those goals. This means that analysis was very straightforward.

The analyst encourages the patient to overcome feelings of insecurity, develop more rewarding and meaningful relationships, and to pursue healthy life goals (Corsini, Wedding, & Dumont, 2008). Insight and exploration of the patient’s past occur early in the relationship, but later on, there is more emphasis on behavior change. There were two critical differences between Adler and Freud. First, Adler emphasized the role of empathy in the therapeutic relationship (Corsini, Wedding, ; Dumont, 2008). For Freud, the analyst was supposed to be a blank slate.

This encouraged the development of transference. The interpretation of transference was critical for psychoanalysis. In contrast, Adler argued that the analyst should develop an empathic relationship with the patient, stimulating hope and commitment to the process (Corsini, Wedding, ; Dumont, 2008). Second, while Freud encouraged the analyst to be quiet and allow the patient to free associate, Adler encouraged the analyst to engage in dialog to help the patient achieve insights. From the comparisons between Freud and Adler one can understand why they only worked together for ten years.

Although they came from similar backgrounds their differences are great. Freud was basically pessimistic about people while Adler was basically optimistic about people. Each contributed greatly to psychoanalysis. Works Cited Corey, G. (2009). The Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Belmont: Brooks/Cole. Corsini, R. J. , Wedding, D. , ; Dumont, F. (2008). Current Psychotherapies. Belmont: Brooks/Cole. Lunden, R. W. (1989). Alfred Adler’s Basic Concepts and Implications. Levittown: Accelerated Development.


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