Alfred Adler (1870–1937).

An Austrian psychiatrist best known for his theory of individual psychology and for his pioneering work with children and families.

Alfred Adler.

Alfred Adler.
(The Library of Congress.)


A medical specialization in the study and treatment of the eye.
A medical specialization in the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior.

In Adler's approach to psychology the individual is viewed as primarily a social, rather than sexual, being; significant emphasis is placed on individual choices and values. Adler viewed the individual as striving toward perfection and overcoming feelings of inferiority. This approach led to his development of the theoretical concept of the inferiority complex.

After serving in military hospitals during World War I (1914–18), Adler became interested in child psychology. He established a network of public child guidance clinics in the Vienna school system that offered family counseling, a therapeutic practice then in its infancy. There were 28 of these facilities in operation until the Nazis ordered them closed in 1934.

Beginning in 1926, Adler divided his time between Vienna and the United States. He was appointed as a visiting lecturer at Columbia University in New York City in 1927. In 1932, he became a lecturer at the Long Island College of Medicine, and he emigrated to the United States with his wife. Adler died of a heart attack in 1937 in Aberdeen, Scotland, while on a lecture tour.

See also Family therapy ; Freud, Sigmund; Personality development ; Psychoanalysis .



Alder, Alfred. Understanding Human Nature. First published in 1927. Translated by Colin Brett. Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1998.

Arciero, Giampiero, and Guido Bondolfi. Selfhood, Identity and Personality Styles. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Deaux, Kay, and Mark Snyder. The Oxford Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.


Buschiazzo, Andres. “About Motivation.” Newsletter: Centro de Estudios Adlerianos (May 2014): 7–9.


Adler School of Professional Psychology. “About Alfred Adler.” (accessed July 20, 2015).


Alfred Alder Institute of New York, 372 Central Park W., New York, NY, 10025, (212) 254-1048,