Alfred Adler

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Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870May 28, 1937) was an Austrian medical doctor and psychologist.


  • The striving for significance, this sense of yearning, always points out to us that all psychological phenomena contain a movement that starts from a feeling of inferiority and reach upward. The theory of Individual Psychology of psychological compensation states that the stronger the feeling of inferiority, the higher the goal for personal power.
    • From a new translation of "Progress in Individual Psychology" ("Fortschritte der Individualpsychologie", 1923), a journal article by Alfred Adler, in the AAISF/ATP Archives.
  • To be human means to feel inferior.
    • Statement of 1933, as quoted in Contemporary Theories and Systems in Psychology (1960) by Benjamin B. Wolman, p. 288
  • Meanings are not determined by situations, but we determine ourselves by the meanings we give to situations.
    • What Life Should Mean to You (1937), p. 14
  • It is always easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
    • Quoted in: Phyllis Bottome, Alfred Adler: Apostle of Freedom (1939), ch. 5
    • Problems of Neurosis: A Book of Case Histories (1929)
  • Man knows much more than he understands.
    • As quoted in A Primer of Adlerian Psychology: The Analytic-Behavioural-Cognitive Psychology of Alfred Adler (1999) by Harold H. Mosak and Michael P. Maniacci

Quotes about Alfred Adler

  • The Adlerians, in the name of “individual psychology,” take the side of society against the individual. ... Adler’s later thought succumbs to the worst of his earlier banalization. It is conventional, practical, and moralistic. “Our science ... is based on common sense.” Common sense, the half-truths of a deceitful society, is honored as the honest truths of a frank world.
    • Russell Jacoby, Social Amnesia: A Critique of Conformist Psychology from Adler to Laing (1975), p. 23-25
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Psychologists Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) •William James (1842–1910) •Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936) •Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) •Alfred Adler (1870–1937) •Edward Thorndike (1874–1949) •Carl Jung (1875–1961) •John B. Watson (1878–1958) •Clark L. Hull (1884–1952) •Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) •Jean Piaget (1896–1980) •Gordon Allport (1897–1967) •J. P. Guilford (1897–1987) •Carl Rogers (1902–1987) •Erik Erikson (1902–1994) •B. F. Skinner (1904–1990) •Donald O. Hebb (1904–1985) •Ernest Hilgard (1904–2001) •Harry Harlow (1905–1981) •Viktor Frankl (1905–1997) •Raymond Cattell (1905–1998) •Abraham Maslow (1908–1970) •Neal E. Miller (1909–2002) •Jerome Bruner (1915–2016) •Donald T. Campbell (1916–1996) •Hans Eysenck (1916–1997) •Herbert A. Simon (1916–2001) •David McClelland (1917–1998) •Leon Festinger (1919–1989) •George A. Miller (1920–2012) •Richard Lazarus (1922–2002) •Stanley Schachter (1922–1997) •Robert Zajonc (1923–2008) •Albert Bandura (1925–2021) •Roger Brown (1925–1997) •Endel Tulving (b. 1927) •Lawrence Kohlberg (1927–1987) •Ulric Neisser (1928–2012) •Jerome Kagan (1929–2021) •Walter Mischel (1930–2018) •Elliot Aronson (b. 1932) •Daniel Kahneman (b. 1934) •Paul Ekman (b. 1934) •Michael Posner (b. 1936) •Amos Tversky (1937–1996) •Bruce McEwen (1938–2020) •Larry Squire (b. 1941) •Richard E. Nisbett (b. 1941) •Martin Seligman (b. 1942) •Ed Diener (1946–2021) •Shelley E. Taylor (b. 1946) •John Anderson (b. 1947) •Ronald C. Kessler (b. 1947) •Joseph E. LeDoux (b. 1949) •Richard Davidson (b. 1951) •Susan Fiske (b. 1952) •Roy Baumeister (b. 1953)