Biography of Alfred Adler

Biography of Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler is a well-known physician and psychotherapist, creator of the system of individual psychology.

Childhood and youth

Alfred Adler was one of seven children in the family of a Jewish grain merchant and his wife. As a child, he suffered from rickets, and could not walk until four years. At the age of five, he seriously ill with pneumonia. All his childhood illnesses affected his decision to become a doctor.

Alfred Adler received his primary education in a classical high school. Then he entered the University of Vienna at the Medical Faculty, which he graduated in 1895. During his studies, he began to communicate closely with a group of socialists.


At the beginning of his career Adler was engaged in ophthalmology, but then switched to

therapy. From childhood he was interested in socialism, and even wrote articles for socialist newspapers. In 1902, Adler received an invitation from the well-known psychiatrist Sigmund Freud to join the “Psychological Club on Wednesdays,” whose members studied various aspects of psychoanalysis.

In 1910, Adler became president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, but by this time the differences with Freud’s views were getting stronger, and Adler left the company a year later.

In 1912, Adler founded the Society for Individual Psychology. And despite the fact that he left Freud’s society because of differences in views and thoughts, Adler and Freud respected each other and drew inspiration from each other’s work. In 1913, Adler called his teachings a system of individual psychology.

During the First World War, he served three years in hospital care. After the war, he founded a consulting polyclinic for children with severe mental illness in Vienna. He also suggested introducing the position of a person in schools responsible for working with children with unstable minds.

In 1924 he accepted the invitation and took up the post of lecturer at the Pedagogical Institute in Vienna. He often traveled and made presentations at many educational institutions in Europe and America. In 1927,

he became a visiting professor at Columbia University.

In 1932, after the Hitler party came to power in Austria, Adler moved to New York, where he became a professor at the Long Island Medical College. Until the end of his days he traveled the world with his lectures.

Alfred Adler was a very productive writer, having written over 300 books and articles in his life. His most significant works are: “The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology,” “Comprehension of Human Nature,” “The Meaning of Life.”

Basic work

He founded the “Association of Individual Psychology” Adler, which originally had the name “Society of Free Psychoanalytical Studies.” His work was dominated by a holistic approach to the study of human psychology and personality. He defined several fictitious goals, which in the majority are unconscious. Adler was convinced that human psychology is psychodynamic and that it can be explained teleologically. He also believed that the conscious and unconscious work in pairs, helping to achieve fictitious goals. Adler believed that the inferiority complex strongly influences the definition of the development of the person’s personality. He also thought that the inferiority complex is one of the main factors of problems with behavior in children.

Personal life and heritage

During his studies in Vienna, Alfred Adler met with Raisa Epshtein, a Russian public figure. The couple married in 1897, they had four children. His daughter Alexander became a psychiatrist and public figure, and Valentine’s daughter – a writer and public figure.

In 1937, during his working trip to Aberdeen University, Scotland, Adler unexpectedly died of a heart attack at the age of 67.

In 1952 the “Adler School of Professional Psychology” was founded in Chicago, to continue the work of an outstanding psychiatrist.

Interesting Facts

Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler were colleagues – none of them was mentored by another, as mentioned in some sources.

A strong supporter of socialism, Alfred Adler fully shared the views of Marxists.

He believed that the order of the birth of children in his family influenced his personality.

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Biography of Alfred Adler