Alfred Adler saw the individual human being as part of a larger connected system — the family, the community, all of humanity, the planet, even the cosmos — and he believed that a sense of this social connectedness gave direction to a person's actions, what he called "useful striving" — constructive but innovative.
The healthy personality develops unknowingly from the individual's creative power in forming lifestyle scripts before the age of four. These scripts allow the individual to form goals of striving and personal convictions allowing one to move forward through life and to cope with life’s experiences.
Social tools can be learned from close family members and dedicated teachers so that the child learns to override discouragement and increased feelings of inferiority along with predisposing biological (e.g. genetic vulnerabilities and handicaps) and environmental shapers (possible overprotection or neglect). Ultimately in the socially useful person, common sense wins out over "private logic" (limited, faulty conclusions about life's experiences) allowingthe individual to develop aconstructive but innovativesense of community and degrees of useful striving from a "minus to a plus" in all of life's tasks (social, work and intimacy, self and spiritual tasks). People who enjoy good mental health participate to some degree in all of these life tasks.
Becoming aware of what's written on the cognitive map, an individual can become more flexible in the choices made about his or her actions, feeling freer to respond in cooperative new ways as the situation changes. Life's accomplishments generate a feeling of value and happiness that overrides feelings of inferiority allowing the individual to have a feeling of belonging in the world and the greater cosmos.
return to In the Moods
Cohen, Stotland M. & G. Mozdzierz.(2003). In the moods: when bipolar disorder and substance dependence intersect. Dollard des Ormeaux: Keren Chai Publishers.
Corsini, R.J. (Ed.) (1984). Current psychotherapies. Itsaca: F.E. Peacock Publishers.