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30. Взгляды Альфреда Адлера на проблему бессознательного X. Ансбахер (Alfred Adler's Views on the Unconscious. Heinz L. Ansbacher)

30. Alfred Adler's Views on the Unconscious. Heinz L. Ansbacher

(Prepared for a Symposium on the Unconscious, Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR, 1978)

University of Vermont, USA


This paper (I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness and gratitude to Nancy Rollins, M. D., with out whose work on Soviet psychology this paper would not have been possible in its present form. Especially through her book (1972) and her unpublished manuscript (1974) did a large part of the present citations from the Russian become available to me) will present (a) Alfred Adler's position on various topics (See the Programme of the proposed Symposium on the Nature, the Functions, and Methods of the Study of the Unconscious drawn up by A. S. Prangishvili, A. E. Sherozia and Ph. V. Bassin. Tbilisi, 1974) of this Symposium on the Unconscious, (b) his general assumptions on which this position is based, and (c) his application of dialectics. Throughout, parallels will be drawn with present-day Soviet psychology, which are often close.

Views on the Unconscious

In accordance with Adler's holistic and humanistic psychology his basic view of the unconscious is that it constitutes a unity with the conscious in which both serve the individual's goal striving, thinking, movement, and action, while the goal itself, like a set, is also most often unconscious. The unconscious is most often kept outside the person's awareness in a way of self-deception, because it would interfere with the person's opinion of himself. In psychotherapy, assumed unconscious material is interpreted in a way the pa. tient finds plausible and acceptable. This will hopefully enable him to recon. struct his opinion of himself, the world, and his situation, and to find a more generally satisfactory way to solve his problems.

To explicate Adler's views on the unconscious in greater detail we shall attempt to present them in reference to twelve of the twenty-five topics of this Symposium to which they seem to pertain. On some of these topics parallel statements from Soviet psychology will be included, especially from Bassin and Uznadze.

Realness of the Unconscious

Adler hild that man is guided by goals, plans, or schemas of which he is unaware or only "dimly aware", especially as these refer to his overall life orientation. For Adler the unconscious was then real, very much as it has reality in Uznadze's theory of set (see below).

Adler rejected, however, Freud's reification of the unconscious in which it became surrounded with such characteristics as repression and censorship. Adler (1964) specifically criticized "Freud's anthropomorphic view of the nature of censorship" (p. 292) even as Bassin (1968) today criticizes Freud's idea of a censorship as an example of his anthropomorphism (pp. 314-330).

The Unconscious as Indispensible Aspect of Conscious Mind

Adler's view on this topic may be illustrated by the following: "The unconscious is nothing other than that which we have been unable to formulate in clear concepts. It is not a matter of concepts hiding away in some unconscious or subconscious recesses of our minds, but of parts of our consciousness the significance of which we have not fully understood" (pp. 232-233). To understand either the conscious or the unconscious it is necessary to take them in their coherence: "Man understands nothing about his goal, but still he pursues it. He understands nothing about his style of life, yet he is continually bound to it. For example, when a man is very dissatisfied with his wife, another woman often seems more attractive to him. But he does not see the connection, to say nothing of understanding the implied accusation or revenge" (p. 232).

If we subsume "goal" and pertinent aspects of "life style" under the concept of set, then we have in the following a quite parallel statement by Uznadze (1966): "Besides man's conscious processes, something goes on which is not an element of consciousness, but which largely determines it... This is the set, which actually appears in any living being in the course of its interaction with the outside world. ... It actually takes place outside consciousness, but nevertheless it has a decisive influence on the whole of mental life" (p. 39),

Antagonistic and Synergic Relationship Between Consciousness and the Unconscious

Adler saw the conscious and the unconscious in a synergic relationship. This will become evident from the following: "We cannot oppose 'consciousness' to 'unconsciousness' as if they were two antagonistic halves of an individual's existence. The conscious life becomes unconscious as soon as we fail to understand it, and as soon as we understand an unconscious tendency it has already become conscious... The frequent antithesis of conscious and unconscious impulses is an antithesis of means only, but irrelevant for the final purpose of enhancing the self" (p. 233). Adler (1929): "Individual Psychology distinguishes in the conscious and the unconscious, not separate and conflicting entities, but complementary and co-operating parts of one and the same reality" (p. 29).

While Adler did not use the term synergy, Leonhard Seif (1931), a prominent follower of Adler, did. Seif aplied the term to opposites that are not resolved in an Hegelian synthesis, but retain uniqueness while cooperating, e. g., existence-essence, loneliness-communication, sympathy-antipathy, freedom-determinism, striving for personal power-social interest, and individual-community. Strangely, consciousness-unconscious are not included. Seif ends with the sentence: "The fruitful synergy of all opposites... is guaranteed only by the individual's direction toward his task and goal and valuation of confidence, devotion and courage" (p. 274). More recently Maslow (1964) has reintroduced the term synergy and given it considerably more currency.

In Soviet psychology today Bassin et al. (1973) greatly stress conscious-unconscious synergy. In support of this they cite firstly that research has amply validated this conception, although "antagonistic interactions... can be observed under certain conditions" (p. 5). Secondly, they note, "The reduction of the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious to their antagonism only, is clearly transformed into the idea... of the supremacy of the instincts over reason" (p. 6) with its dismal social consequences.

Manifestations of the Unconscious in Sleeping 2nd Dreaming

In reference to sleeping and dreaming Adler does not mention the "unconscious" but stresses their unity with waking life and its purposes.

Sleeping. Adler maintained: "Any theory which treats sleep and waking, dream thoughts and day thoughts as contradictions is bound to be unscientific" (p. 229). "In sleep... we are still in contact with reality. The fact that... we can make the adjustments which prevent us from falling out of bed shows that connections with reality are still present. A mother can sleep through the loudest noises in the street and yet awaken at the slightest movement of her child" (p. 230). The Soviet literature here again is very similar.

Dreaming. "Only by considering dreams as one of the expressions of the style of life may an adequate interpretation of them be found" (p. 359). Adler (1929) also stated: "The dream strives to pave the way towards solving a problem by a metaphorical expression of it.... Naturally the dreamer does not recognize his own metaphor for what it is. If he understood it, it would be ineffective for its purpose. It is essentially a self-deception, in the interest of his own individual goal" (p. 163).

Psychosomatics, Body Language

For Adler psychosomatic symptoms are not symbolic expressions of some repressed desires where there is only a formal "symbolic" relationship between the two, but are unconsciously created ways of dealing with a present problem, or of communicating. "The functions of the body speak a language which is usually more expressive... than words... Still it is a language, the language of the body, which I have called organ dialect. For example... a child who behaves obediently but wets the bed at night thereby manifests clearly his opinion not to wish to submit to the prescribed culture" (p. 223). "It is always necessary to look for these reciprocal actions of the mind on the body, and of the body on the mind, for both of them are parts of the whole with which we are concerned" (p. 225).

Sets as Stable Personality Orientations in Striving, Perceiving, Thinking

In his first paper dealing explicitly with "The Role of the Unconscious" Adler stated: "The biological significance of consciousness as well as unconsciousness rests in the fact that these states enable action according to a sell-consistently oriented life plan... Thus every conscious manifestation of the psyche points to the unconscious, fictional, final goal, just as does the unconscious striving, in so far as one comprehends it rightly" (p. 233). The concept of "life plan", like "life style" by which Adler later replaced it, can of course also be subsumed under Uznadze's concept of "set".

The unconscious effect of such sets as stable orientations of psychological functions are further described by Adler (1930 and 1956, respectively).

"Interests, feelings, emotions, thinking and action obey throughout life the laws of the style of life. The creative activity of the life style begins its work [before age five ]. To facilitate this, rules, principles, character traits, and opinion of the world are devised- A very specific schema of apperception prevails. ...That which proves without disturbance to and conforming with the conscious mind is retained there. Other material is forgotten, rendered powerless, or remains effective as an unconscious pattern which is more than otherwise withdrawn from critical examination as well as understanding" (p. 12).

"Everyone perceives in particular only a certain part of life, of the environment, of an event. Man utilizes only what and how his goal demands. Therefore the process of perception can be comprehended only when one has gained a picture of the hidden [unconscious ] goal of a person and has understood everything in him as influenced by this goal. ... Thus... from the way in which a man perceives, one can draw profound conclusions regarding his inner self" (p. 210).

Projective Techniques

The characteristic of a so-called projective technique is that a person gives a conscious report about a perception or a memory and in doing so discloses aspects of his personality which have remained unknown, i. e-, unconscious to hin self. In this sense earliest recollections represent for Adler (pp. 351-357) a most convenient thumbnail sketch of a person's outlook on himself and life. Adler (1972) believed: "The working method of our conscious and unconscious memory... follows the personality ideal" (p. 74). Therefore, "each of the abstract neurotic guiding lines...may be accessible to consciousness in a memory image, or may be made accessible in such an image" (p. 79). "Personality ideal" and "guiding lines" are again terms like "goal", "life plan", or "life style" which come under Uznadze's (1966) general category of "set", as "modus of an individual's state as a whole" (p. 214).

On this basis Adler arrived at the principle: "I would never investigate a personality without asking for the earliest memory" (p. 351). Ruth Monroe (1955) considered this routine request of Adler "actually the first approach toward the projective-test methodology" (p. 428n).

Psychotherapeutic Approach

The simple case of a 9-year old boy who had trouble in school, was cowardly and was given to lying, may serve as a concrete example of how Adler (1930) used the unconscious in psychotherapy. "The boy is completely aware that his lie is a lie. He is conscious of it. We shall see whether the authors are right who speak of conscious and unconscious as opposites, who believe that in the unconscious are the bad drives which due to censorship enter consciousness in disguise. What does this lie mean9 If one understands the conscious, [that is 1 does not simply accept the lie as such, then one knows: the lie is a means to be esteemed. If we test this boy with respect to his unconscious, we shall see that the unconscious contains a deep inferiority feeling which strives to be redeemed. Originating in the inferiority feeling the striving for significance arises. Thus it is only what we can see also in the "conscious" (p. 119).

We note here that Adler uses the unconscious dailectically.

Dui ing his last years, Adler also stressed the aspect of the unconscious as a heuristic fiction or working hypothesis of the psychologist. We quote from lecture notes: "Nothing is in the unconscious. E. g., all the meaning of a dream is invented by the interpreter; it was not there before. Where formerly there was simply lack of understanding, interpretations are given; or new interpretations are given to old notions.... The inferiority complex is only an idea given by us to the patient. He behaves 'as if' he had an inferiority complex. After we tell him that, he has a new concept to work with".

The next year a similar statement by Adler (1937) appeared in print: "I, myself, as the inventor of the 'inferiority complex' have never thought of it as of a spirit, knowing that it has never been in the consciousness or unconsciousness of the patient but only in my own consciousness, and have used it rather for illumination so that the patient could see his attitude in the right coherence" (p. 776).

Personality Structure

As indicated, Adler's equivalents to the concept of set, applied to personality structure, are life plan, schema of apperception, guiding lines, or the attitudinal aspects of life style which includes also overt behavior. The life style is ultimately the creation of the individual, in response to his heredity and environment, is unique, and includes several further subordinate concepts. These are the overall goal, ways of striving for the goal, and the opinion of the self and the world which are related to degree of activity and degree of social interest. Since the child creates his life style at a time when he has neither words nor concepts, the attitudinal aspects remain "unconscious". Yet they influence all his psychological functions. In Adler's words: "Life in its wholeness, named concretely by me, 'style of life', is constructed by the child at a time when he has neither adequate language nor adequate concepts. As the child grows further in terms of the life style, it grows in a movement which was never formulated in words and therefore unassailable by criticism, is also withdrawn from the criticism of experience. One cannot speak here of a repressed unconscious, rather of something not understood, withdrawn from understanding" (p. 191, translation modified).

Again Uznadze (1966) gave a very similar formulation. "Throughout life and, in particular during childhood, when the basis of a person's outlook is established, a series of sets is built up on the training and education he has received, and these sets accompany him sometimes throughout life... Usually, he is not aware of these sets although this does not stop them from being active forces controlling his activity in a given direction. ...He cannot check or abolish these sets of which he is not aware... so that he is forced to control the act of his thought under the decisive influence of these sets" (p. 243).

The Problems of Cognition and of Creativity

A developed social interest, although consciously acquired, functions unconsciously like a "set". It assures, according to Adler (1964), an attitude of openness toward the world, "feeling at home on this earth", and of "being in harmony with the universe" (p. 43). Tt is Adler's criterion for successful adaptation to the requirements of life. This includes the cognitive, intellectual functions. Social interest assures "a way of acting and behaving which we designate as 'reasonable'. Reasonable is what one understands by 'common sense'" (p. 43). Intelligence not directed by social interest is mere "private intelligence" (p. 45).

Adler's "common sense" has an equivalent in Uznadze's (1966) "objecti-vization" which he defines as essentially "the checking... of impressions... so that these can be re-experienced as something... existing not only for the particular person concerned, but at the same time for any other person" (p. 232). And just like Adler (1964), in accordance with Kant, would say that all mental disorders are characterized by lack of "common sense" (p. 44), so Uznadze (1966) states about a mental patient that he lacks "true objectivization" (p. 242).

On the effect of social interest on cognitive functions, including aesthetics, Adler (1929) says: "It is almost impossible to exaggerate the value of an increase in social interest. The mind improves, for intelligence [except 'private intelligence'] is a communal function. ...The individual feels ... his existence to be worthwhile just so far as he is useful to others and is overcoming common instead of private feelings of inferiority. Not only the ethical nature, but the right attitude in aesthetics, the best understanding of the beautiful and the ugly will always be founded upon the truest social interest" (p. 79).

And finally with regard to creativity we have from Adler: "A man of genius is primarily a man of supreme usefulness. ... If we apply the social measure to artists and poets, we note that they serve a social function more than anyone else. They have taught us how to see, how to think, and how to feel. ...Thus we attribute to them the greatest dignity, that of being the friends and leaders of mankind" (p. 153).

Social Structure of Behavior and Social Values of Personality

Adler greatly emphasized the social structure of man's behavior as being naturally given, as a part of being human. Language is a prime example of this condition. "Language reckons with the social life of man, is its product and, at the same time, its cement" (p. 130). Yet we acquire, and generally use it in this sense, quite unknowingly. We are unconscious of the extent to which through language our behavior is socially structured. Uznadze (1966) rightfully includes language in his psychology of set (pp. 229-230).

Another example of the unconscious social structuring of behavior is the infant's feeding. When the infant suckles at the mother's breast, he is according to Adler, naturally, instinctively, or unconsciously cooperating with her, engaging in synergistic behavior. "The mother with her milk-filled breasts ... (not to mention the new emotional development of the love for her child) needs the child just as the child needs her. They are dependent on each other by nature" (p. 137). This is quite the opposite of Freud's interpretation of such behavior as a manifestation of the infant's "drive for destruction".

The Problem of Social Values of Personality

The most original and most important concept in Adler's system is that of social interest which is best defined as an interest in the interests of others and the world in which we live. Adler called it at one time "an evaluative attitude toward life (Lebensfоrm)" (p. 135). He conceived it developmentally as an aptitude which must be consciously developed. But "when social interest has been from the first instilled into the upward strivings of the psyche, it acts with automatic certainty, coloring every thought and action" (p. 155). By describing social interest at this stage as "automatic", Adler gives it the unconscious quality of a set. This particular set represents the social values.

This thought again is also expressed by Uznadze (1966) who speaks of needs "directed toward the satisfaction of the needs of a wider circle of other individuals". In exemplary development, "these social cares increase, they become the dominant form of human interests, and begin to exert a decisive influence on the whole of man's activity" (pp. 231-232).

Unity of the Organism

The concept of the unity of the individual is foremost in Adler's system. In fact, he chose the very name Individual Psychology to indicate this indivisibility, as was mentioned before. Adler wrote: "Very early in my work I found man to be a unity. The foremost task of Individual Psychology is to prove this unity in each individual - in his thinking, feeling, acting, in his so-called conscious and unconscious - in every expression of his personality. This unity we call the 'life style' of the individual" (p. 175).

On the Soviet side we find in Uznadze (1966): "Psychology, as a science, must clearly start... with the concept of the subject himself as a whole" (p. 199). He concludes his The Psychology of Set with the words: "Human psychology is built on the principle of the activity of man as a whole... The socalled mental 'functions' of man-observation, imagination, and attention - like his thought and his will, are only differential mental properties modifying his set" (p. 247).

Teplov (1955) , to cite arother source, writes: "The unity of the life goal, which finds its expression in the central life interest, represents the center around which all other interests of a person group themselves" (p. 218). And in the words of Sherozia (1969): "The person as a whole presents himself... as an independent unique reality which precedes separate psychic and physiological activities and is not reduced to them" (p. 321).

Activity, Criativity, and Self-Determination

Adler saw man as active, not merely reactive, creative, and not causally determined. Actually it is the patients who are the "determinists" in that they blame the circumstances, including their symptoms, for their shortcomings, because they want to be free of responsibility. But, "Not heredity and not environment are determining factors - both are giving only the frame and the influence which are answered by the individual in regard to his styled creative power" (Adler, 1956, frontispiece).

This statement, basic to Adler's concept of man, is repeated by him in many variations. It is a clear expression of the individual's own creativity as a third and actually the crucial determining force, superordinated to nature and nurture in the form of a dialectical synthesis- The assumption of such creativity corresponds to the development of the human cortex with its power of abstraction and fiction formation, what Kurt Goldstein (1940) called the ability of an "attitude toward the abstract" and the merely possible. In Adler's sense such creativity means ability to envisage Јoals and to make decisions and all sorts of "arrangements" consistent with the individual's purposes and values.

In the Soviet literature we also find this emphasis on the individual as active, spontaneous, creative and guided by his own values. The following are four examples.

Kostiuk (1961) states: "The driving forces of psychological development are to be sought neither in heredity nor environment. ...They are rather contained in the life of the child himself" (p. 92). Bassin (1968) agrees with this when he writes: "The personality, operating in terms of its history and its value systems, creates its own world. ... Consciousness is not a simple reflection, a dimepiphenomenon... it is, in itself, a spontaneous organization" (pp. 458-459). Leontyev (1959) states: "Man does not find the conditions of his life in nature ready-made, but creates them himself" (p. 31).

According to Uznadze (1966), "The power of objectivization liberates man from his direct dependence on natural sets and prepares him for independent, objective activity. ... It liberates man from direct, unconditional dependence on nature and assists him to become independent of its power and capable of controlling it" (p. 147). Finally Teplov (1955) gives a particularly close parallel to Adler when he notes, "Evoryone is to a considerable extent himself the creator of his own individuality" (p. 215). Adler had written, "The individual is the picture and the artist. He is the artist of his own personality" (p. 177).

From this it follows that the principle of causality in the sense of causa efficiens is curtailed. Adler regarded man "as if nothing in his life were causally determined and as if every phenomenon could have been different" (p. 91), while Uznadze, according to Sherozia (1969), excluded the possibility of explaining psychic experiences in the causal sense by including them in a causally closed system of psychic phenomena (p. 246, after Rollins, 1974, p. 185).

Reflection Theory

This takes us directly to the reflection theory of dialectical materialism. The idea was to our knowledge first expressed by the Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) in the passage: "That much I saw soon, the circumstances make man, but I saw just as soon, man makes the circumstances, he has the power within himself to steer these in a variety of ways according to his will" (Pestalozzi, 1938, p. 57).

Marx and Engels (1953), writing in 1846, used the same words: "The circumstances make men just as men make the circumstances" (p. 35). Thereby they attempted to replace mechanistic materialism with interactionism, or organismic thinking, and restored to man creativity and self-determination.

Adler (1964) took the same stand on the issue of determinism vs. self-determination, referring to Pestallozzi for the sentence: "The environment molds man, but man molds the environment" (p. 28).

Thus Adler identified with the source of the reflection theory which takes such an important place in present-day Soviet psychology and psychiatry. As formulated by Bassin (1968) reflection theory describes a circular process whereby "a complex system of subjective motives and values, needs and interests" (p. 126) both reflects external reality and contributes to its formation.

The Social Nature of Man

On the issue of the social and ethical nature of man Adler took the stand that this is not one of man-society conflict but one of neutrality. Man is, however, born with a potential for social interest or social feeling (Gemeinschaftsgefuhl), and it depends on its conscious training whether this will become a fully developed attitude or set of social interest. Preceding quotations from Adler have shown that he considered all "successes" in life of any kind related to a developed social interest. Correspondingly, "All failures-neurotics, psychotics, criminals, alcoholics, problem children, suicides, perverts, and prostitutes-are failures because they are lacking in social interest" (p. 156). Psychotherapy is a process of resocialization or belated socialization. No repression is involved because no bad component of human nature that needs to be repressed is assumed. Adler holds "that unjustified wishes must be recognized as violating social feeling, and that by a surplus of social interest they can be made, not to become suppressed, but to disappear" (p. 294).

On the Soviet side any socially negative behavior is also not attributed to human nature but, likely, to negative influences of a social structure, capitalism. According to Smirnov (1961), "In a socialist society, the personal strivings of man are not opposed to the interests of society, but agree with them. Personal interests are therefore not repressed... but... reach their full expression and development here. ... This harmony... proves how wrong the theories are which assure us that social influence can manifest itself only as the suppression of the personal strivings of man" (pp. 18-19).

Uznadze (1966) states that in a social being purely personal needs are supplemented by needs "directed toward the satisfaction of the needs of a wider circle of other individuals. In the course of development of life, these social cares... begin to exert a decisive influence on the whole of man's activity. The process of strengthening of this social tendency is directly related to the development of... the capacity for objectivization" (pp. 231-232), which we have equated previously with Adler's "common sense". In this connection Uznadze also concludes, "Man became a man in the true sense of the word only when he acquired the ability to take trouble" (p. 232).

Human Dynamics

Adler's basic disagreement with Freud was over his mechanistic and zoomorphic approach to human dynamics. Adler found many psychologists inclined, like Freud, "to present their dogmas disguised in mechanistic or physical similes. At one time they use as a comparison a pump handle... at another a magnet... at another a sadly harassed animal struggling for the satisfaction of its elementary needs. From such a view, to be sure, little can be seen of the fundamental differences which human psychological life manifests" (p. 92).

Adler maintained instead that human dynamics can be adequately presented and approached only if we make central the fact that man is guided in his actions by his future as he anticipates it and as he wants to effect it. Thus his dynamics became one of final causes rather than efficient causes, one of purposes where drives or instincts are subordinated to an individual's purpose as are all his other functions. Through the individual's comparison of his present state with the one aspired in the future, the dynamics also become dialectical as will be discussed in more detail below-

Adler's terms for describing human dynamics, as used already in this paper, were "fictional final goal" or simply "goal", "plan" or "life plan", "personality ideal", "guiding lines", all of which were eventually subsumed under the term "style of life". Originally, and alongside with these terms, he also spoke of "set" or "attitude" (Einstellung) and "readiness" (Веrеitsсhaft).

Adler expressed his position most forcefully in the following: "The most important question of the healthy and the diseased mental life is not whence? but, whither? Only when we know the effective direction-giving goal of a person may we try to understand his movements... In this whither? the cause is contained" (p. 91). "Individual Psychology insists on the indispensability of finalism for the understanding of all psychological phenomena. Causes, powers, instincts, impulses, and the like cannot serve as explanatory principles. The final goal alone can. Experiences, traumata, sexual development mechanisms cannot yield an explanation, but the perspective in which these are regarded... which subordinates all life to the final goal, can do so" (p. 92).

We find very similar views expressed in Soviet psychology. According to Smirnov (1961): "Soviet psychology decisively rejects all theories which argue that man's personality and experience are determined by biological, natural drives. Such conception assumes the immutability, i. е., 'eternity' of the basic psychic qualities of a person. However... the mental qualities of men are very changeable" (p. 17).

In Teplov (1955) we read: "The character of a person is determined primarily by his attitude (Einstellung) toward the world, to other human beings, to his work and finally toward himself. This attitude finds its conscious expression in the world view of the person, in his convictions and opinions, and is experienced by him in his feelings" (p. 231).

The similarity is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that both, Adlerians (Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1964, p. 323; Kurt Adler, 1975) and a Soviet psychologist (Teplov, 1955, p. 113), have used the following famous sentence from Marx (Fromm, 1961) to illustrate their position: "A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect. But what distinguishes from the start the worst architect from the best of bees is that the architect has built the cell in his head, before he builds it in wax. At the end of the work process we get a result that existed already from the start in the conception of the worker" (p. 113).

Difference between Adler and Soviet Psychology

Regarding the dialectical method a main issue is: Do the objective events in the physical world follow the principle of dialectics, or do only our thought processes operate in this manner?

Soviet psychology appears to accept the first alternative. The psychiatrist Myasishchev (1963) cites the following from Lenin as relevant to personality theory: "Concepts (and their relationships, transitions, and conflicts) are shown to be reflections of the objective world- The dialectics of material objects creates the dialectics of ideas, and not vice versa" (pp. 92-93, as quoted by Rollins, 1972, p. 17). Rubenstein (1963) indicates the same understanding when he writes: "The key to the solution of the [matter-mind] problem is that - according to an expression of Hegel which Lenin particularly emphasizes - one and the same thing is itself as well as something else depending on different contexts and relationships. More concretely this means: Psychological phenomena - as well as all other phenomena - appear in different systems... in different qualities" (p. 3, italics ours).

Adler accepted the second alternative. He held that the dialectical, antithetical mode is based on abstractions and applies only to thought processes. In the objective world there are no definite categories, antitheses, and dichotomies, only continua and distributions according to the normal bell-shape curve, nor can in reality the same thing be something else. Thus Adler (1931) wrote: "People often believe that left and right,... man and woman, hot and cold, light and heavy, strong and weak are contradictions. From a scientific standpoint they are not contradictions, but varieties. ... In the same way, good and bad, normal and abnormal are not contradictions but varieties" (pp. 95-96).

Likewise for Adler consciousness and unconsciousness, remembering and forgetting, truth and imagination were objectively not "two antagonistic halves of an individual's existence" (p. 233), as stated earlier. Here Adler had Freud in mind who in a positivistic manner treated these opposites as if they existed as such in the objective world, which Adler considered Freud's tendency toward anthropomorphism. In that event the principles of dialectics would, according to Adler, not apply to these opposites.

For Adler these opposites were useful human thought constructions, fictions, guiding lines, with which man deals with reality. Regarding such fictions in general Adler held: "The normal person does not lack the open-Handedness... to free himself from these fictions and to reckon with reality. ...the neurotic, however, like the dependent child... and like primitive man,... ascribes reality to his fiction. ...In the psychoses it is elevated to a dogma or anthropomorphized" (p. 246). Dialectics apply only to man's way of thinking. In terms of the reflection theory, it applies only to the manner in which man contributes to external reality, to the method he employs in creating it, but not the reality itself, including the material products of his creativity.

The difference between Adler and Soviet psychology regarding the dialectic nature of objective processes could in some respects make a great difference in dealing with these processes. But there is no difference in the understanding of psychological processes, and the difference in the first does not seem to detract from the similarity in the second.

Due to this and the other similarities described earlier there is also little difference between how a Soviet therapist and how an Adlerian therapist would understand and deal with a given patient. For example the description by Myasishchev (1961) of a case of his and E. K. Yakovleva was easily translated into Adlerian terms by Ansbacher (1962): "A woman with a pampered life style developed symptoms [of deep hysteria I when confronted with situations where she could no longer dominate without being challenged. She recovered when she was able to understand the mistake in her style of life, changing her self-centered attitude toward one of better cooperation and greater social interest".

Summary and Conclusions

In this paper on some parallels between Adler and Soviet psychology we attempted to demonstrate in the introduction that Adler can be considered the prototype of many of the current developments in Western psychology. This can be ascribed to the fact that Adler provided in his Individual Psychology a complete alternative to Freud's psychoanalysis, an alternative which has increasingly proven its philosophical and therapeutic validity.

The paper itself is devoted to a description of Adler's positions on various aspects of the unconscious, and to showing how similar these are, in some cases, to views represented in present-day Soviet psychology.

The discussion of differences between the two orientations was not within the scope of this paper. Yet the difference on dialectics, although more of a philosophical than psychological nature, was considered important enough for inclusion.

We may conclude that whereas Freud represents the difference between the Eastern and the Western psychological worlds, Adler represents, to some extent, the common bond between them. By giving his psychology a better hearing on both sides, this bond could be greatly strengthened, even as he considered his psychology "a liaison work... connected with all great movements through the common urge... toward a higher development of mankind and the welfare of all" (pp. 463-464).


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