By Phin Upham
Alfred Adler is best remembered for his holistic approach to mental health. Adler worked hard to understand not just the mind, but the circumstances around the individual. The methods he proposed would greatly influence the practice of counseling for years to come.
Adler was one of seven children. His father was a Jewish grain merchant, and his mother stayed home to raise the children. He was not a healthy child, suffering from rickets and unable to walk for most of his early years, but he recovered during adolescence. Those childhood ailments would drive a life-long passion for medical science.
Adler began his career as an ophthalmologist, but he eventually moved into the realm of general practice. His interest in psychology developed in 1902, after he’d received an invitation from Sigmund Freud to join his “Wednesday Society” of therapists to discuss psychoanalysis. Their bond would last for many years, showing signs of crippling only in 1910 when Adler was made president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.
Shortly after his split with Freud, he created the Society for Individual Psychology, which became a school in 1913.
When Hitler’s Nazi party rose to prominence during the early 1930s, Adler quickly left the country for New York. He became a professor at the Long island College of Medicine, which kicked off a life of touring and lectures.
One of Adler’s leading theories involved the effects that an inferiority complex could have an individual, arguing that one’s sense of self worth contributed greatly to one’s personality.