A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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vi                   THE ANATOMY OF HUMAN PERSONALITY               253
care, said Adler, about the deeper structure of his unconscious life. He wanted relief from fears, frustrations and inferiority feelings. The philosophy behind Adler's school of Individual Psychology was readily understandable, and for this reason Adler's theories were accepted, without much resistance, in Europe and in America. Adler's emphasis has been primarily on therapy. His technique is to teach the patient the use-lessness and inefficiency of continuing on a road which is out of touch with reality. He, and his disciples, trace through the life story of the patient those tendencies which they feel brought about the neurosis. The most important thing in life is the goal towards which each individual strives. It is unformed and undifferentiated in childhood, but more specific and recognizable in adult life. It is, indeed, a life-plan. This integrated life-plan, Adler found, is directly tied to the drive for superiority. Around this psychological tendency to obtain recognition for superiority or to defeat inferiority, revolves the problem of the neurosis.
Equipped with a basic belief in its own infallibility, the developing child, Adler thought, finds himself confronted by a difficult, unyielding environment that does not encourage such belief. At the very outset the child perceives how he is placed in a position of inferiority in relation to adults. He is inferior to the world in size, in strength and capabilities. Besides the cramping effect of the family on the child's personality, Adler maintained, there is society, which further subordinates him. To overcome this the child, wishing to appear the superior being he instinctively feels he is, takes refuge in fantasy for the satisfaction of his desires. The aggressive tendencies are primarily the ones involved in these inner conflicts. The struggle for superiority, starting in the family situation, determines his life-plan, which will