And the principle of social interest refers to an individual's coping with society. Social interest is a transcendence of the self. It is the opposite of self-centeredness. It develops into a trait and the most important one within his lifestyle. Adler identified social interest as the very criterion of mental health, as his experience in psychiatry revealed to him by mentally healthy persons who felt at home on the earth. He viewed neurotics, failures, psychotics and offenders as suffering from intense inferiority, which held them back to themselves. They are unable to cope with life, struggle for personal superiority, according to a private sense. They cushion their existence with a pampered lifestyle wherein they expect to get without giving. Opposite these unfortunate individuals are those who have acquired maturity. They have grown away from a sense of helplessness and into a taking responsibility for others. They have become an asset rather than a burden or liability to the community (UXL Newsmakers).
Adler's view of counseling was for the therapist to discover the error in the patient's lifestyle and, through it, lead him to greater maturity (UXL Newsmakers 2005). For this purpose, he devised diagnostic approaches. Among these were the theory of dreams, the meaning of early childhood recollections, and the role of birth order in the family. The counselor or therapist gains an understanding and experience of the patient, not characterized by depth, but from the context of the larger whole of his collective transactions. In Adler's view, this was how to effect a change in the person's self-view and his view of the world. He would then be reorganized. In addition, the patient could be drawn to appreciate his own power of self-determination and to develop the courage to use it. In order to motivate or incline the person or patient towards or against a goal, the counselor or therapist expresses disinterest or unconcern and thus develops feelings of trust and true fellowship. This openness to each other would make up where one's mother could have failed (UXL Newsmakers).
More than 10 million Americans were said to seek help from psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric social workers each year (Torrey 1992). The rest sought help from marriage counselors, family therapists, pastoral counselors and even encyclopedia salesmen, bartenders and preachers of all sorts. Their approaches derive mainly from the direction and preaching of Freud and psychoanalysis, directly or indirectly. They collectively assumed that intrapersonal and interpersonal difficulties originate from childhood experiences with the child's original relationship with his parents. These difficulties span shyness, refusal or difficulty to make a commitment, depression, anxiety, obsessions, poor hygiene, substance abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, and failure to find meaning in life. Solving these problems required a careful, guided and painful journey to the patient's childhood memories, in Freud's mindset. His approach certainly benefited the world. His concept drew more attention and increased the significance assigned to intra-personal feelings and interpersonal feelings more than to material possessions. His theory did something that enhanced their lives and gave more meaning to these. It also encouraged the development of humanistic and egalitarian thinking in America. It eventually led to an urge for social reform. At the opposite end, his theory promoted irresponsibility, in that people got convinced or felt that it was an escape for their powerful unconscious to commit violations and offenses. Those who accepted Freud's teaching saw themselves as helpless victims of their psyches, which were ruled mainly by the dictates of their ego rather than as the workings and decisions of the deliberate mind. Right and wrong lost their meaning. These persons had lost their desire for social change. These are among the greatest adverse effects of Freud's theory. It would now be plain to see and realize that Freud's analytical solution would not work. Examined and analyzed children would not grow up healthier. Prisoners would not reform. Mental illness remained largely incurable and social injustice has not been allayed. Side-by-side and as a consequence of Freud's popularity grew the freedom to blame parents and unfortunate childhood experiences for one's conscious wrong choices. Those billions of dollars spent in attending psychiatric sessions could have benefited society more if used for the treatment of the real causes behind psychological disorders, compulsions, obsessions, panics and manias. Instead of exhuming childhood memories, efforts could be more worthwhile if these were used to expand community service, volunteer work for the benefit of others. As Adler advocated, these sick Americans could find it more satisfying to realize that the highest ideal would be to lose the self and to find it in the service of others (Torrey). #
Encyclopedia of childhood and Adolescence (1998). 3 pages. Psychoanalysis. Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence: Gale Research
Fine, S. (2003). Psychoanalysis. 3 pages. Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: Gale Research