Someone once told me that “a person’s behaviour is made up of 5 of their closest friends/relative”. I find this to be true, especially when I notice little details of me copying my best friend’s little quirks and vice versa. This trend has actually been studied long before, as early the 1900s by renowned psychologist, Alfred Adler.
Alfred Adler was born on 7th February 1870, in Vienna, Austria. Prior to his career in psychology, he used to work as an ophthalmologist (specialist in disorders and diseases on the eye), and a general practitioner. It was only by 1907 when Adler was invited by Sigmund Freud to join discussion groups. A separation in their school of thoughts were formed not long after. Although most of their theories are debunked a little less than half-a-century later, Adler has shaped much of the discussion of psychological thought today.
Opposed to Freud’s belief that there are universal biological factors that made people behave in certain ways, Adler believed that behaviours are based on societal and environmental factors. Adler disapprove of generalisations of theories that can be applied to explain people’s behaviour, which is the basis for his “Individual Psychology”.
The less we generalise, the more complex the theory becomes. This is true for Adler’s Individual Psychology. However, it can be summed up to: any person’s actions are influenced by their drive for success (desire for community benefit) or superiority (drive for personal gain). Everyone typically has a drive for both, so when a person is fixated on only striving for superiority and neglect success, they are deemed to be psychologically unhealthy.
Adler believes that an individual’s personality traits are derived from these following external factors:
When a person suffers from a disadvantage and tries to overcome it. This is considered the best-case scenario.
When a person suffers from a disadvantage and accepts it as it is. This is considered to be what the majority does.
When a person suffers from a disadvantage and becomes obsessed to completely eradicate all weaknesses. People who overcompensate are considered neurotics.
It is through these experiences that builds a person’s character. This is why it’s important to surround yourself with supportive people who will look out for your best interest (to an extent) and steer you to compensate, instead of overcompensate or resign.