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Alfred Adler (1870-1937) is known as the founder of Individual Psychology, which emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual and the role of societal factors in shaping personality. His approach has even become the foundation for the Adler School of Professional Psychology, which makes social responsibility its primary focus in all its curricula and initiatives.
One of his most important contributions is the concept of the Inferiority Complex. Inferiority complex is a term used to describe people who compensate for feelings of inferiority (feeling like they're less than other people, not as good as others, worthless, etc.) by acting ways that make them appear superior. They do this because controlling others may help them feel less personally inadequate.
Adler is also known for emphasizing the importance of birth order in personality development. He believed that firstborn children experience a period in their life when they are the center of attention, only to be dethroned with the birth of a sibling. Firstborn children also feel a heavy burden of having to be responsible for the younger siblings. The feeling of being dethroned, and the immense pressure of having to be the responsible one, makes them susceptible to developing neuroses and substance addiction. Adler also believed that the youngest children tend to be spoiled, and this leads them to lack empathy. Middle children, who experience neither dethronement or being overindulged, tend to be the most well-adjusted and are more likely to become successful.
Adler believed in the importance of prevention, and advocated parent education as the best way to protect children from growing up and developing psychological problems. He emphasized the need for establishing a democratic environment where children feel that they are equal to others - neither inferior nor superior. He discouraged corporal punishment, and admonished parents to avoid the twin evils of pampering and neglect.
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