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Historical review


Alfred Adler and the  international

Adlerian movement

Alfred Adler was born on 7th February, 1870, in Penzig, a suburb of Vienna, Austria, to Jewish Hungarian parents.
He was the second of seven children, four brothers and two sisters. He was a delicate boy and suffered from rickets in the early years of his life.
He studied medicine and after completing his studies worked at the Poliklinik in Vienna until 1896, when he performed his compulsory military service in the Hungarian unit of a military hospital in Pressburg.
In 1897 Adler married Raissa Timofeevna Epstein, the daughter of a Jewish Muscovite merchant, who had gone to Vienna to study as women were not allowed to attend university in Russia.
Adler set up a private general practice in 1898 and published “Gesundheitsbuch für das Schneidergewerbe” (Health Manual for the Tailoring Trade) in the same year, which showed his strong interest in social medicine.
In 1904 Adler converted to Protestantism and acquired Austrian citizenship in 1911.
Adler met Freud in 1902 and became one of the four founding members of Freud’s Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Adler became its President in 1910 and was one of the most active participants in Freud’s Wednesday evening discussion group during this period.
However, Adler developed theories about neurosis which differed from the fundamental assumptions of psychoanalysis. After a final heated discussion Adler, together with other six members, left the Psychoanalytic Society on 22nd February 1911 and founded the “Zeitschrift für Individualpsychologie”.
The society held its meetings in a café in Vienna.
Adler published “Über den nervosen Charakter” (The Neurotic Character) in 1912 and “Heilen und Bilden (Healing and Education) in 1914.
In 1919 he established the first psychological and educational consultancy centres.
“Praxis und Theorie der Individualpsychologie” (The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology) was published in 1920.
The first Congress on Individual Psychology was held in Vienna in 1924.
Adler published “Menschenkenntnis” (Understanding Human Nature) in 1927.
In 1929 he was appointed medical director at Mariahilfe Ambulatorium, in Vienna, an outpatient clinic for the treatment of neuroses. During this period (1929-1930) he published three volumes known as the “Trilogy of Education”: “Individualpsychologie in der Schule” (Individual Psychology in the School), “Kindererziehung” (The Education of Children) and “Die Seele des schwererziehbaren Kindes” (The Psychology of the Difficult Child).
During the First World War he served in the army as military doctor and worked in various hospitals on the Russian front, in Cracow and also in Vienna.
“Wozu leben wir?” (What Life Should Mean to You) was published in 1931.
In 1932 Adler became a professor at the Long Island College of Medicine (New York). In 1934 he moved to the United States with all his family and also founded the Journal of Individual Psychology during this period.
“Religion und Individualpsychologie” (Religion and Individual Psychology) and “Der Sinn des Lebens” (The Meaning of Life) were published in 1933.
Adler held numerous conferences on different issues regarding educational psychology, psychopathology and psychotherapy and his untiring activity led to the spread of his work in various countries, such as the United States and across Europe.
Adler died suddenly of a heart attack in Aberdeen, Scotland, while he was holding a series of lectures.
Two of Adler’s four children, Kurt and Alexandra, continued his work and his ideas and made a valuable contribution to the development and spread of the international Adlerian movement.