Thursday, July 24, 2008

on Adler

Earlier this summer I attended a program on What it Means to be Human. Before that talk I'd assumed humanity was genetic (of course) but also implied a degree of compassion and restraint. A civilized human has their id firmly in check or carefully cloaked.

Since then I've spent a fair amount of time going through psychology, philosophy and god help me - self-help books looking for a better answer. What determines who and what we are? what is our motivation towards achieving humanity? As we are social creatures, do we have a social obligation towards helping others define themselves?

As you can tell, I've been a real hoot to be around lately.

Today I read about Alfred Adler, probably best known for coining the term "inferiority complex." Two quotes:

" is the feeling of inferiority, inadequacy and insecurity that determines the goal of an individual's existence."

"A thousand talents and capabilities arise from our feelings of inadequacy."

From my understanding, Adler believed our goals are always shaped by what we perceive to be missing in our lives. Thus, to be human, is to perpetually seek balance. How we attempt to sway power as a child (through aggression, passivity, cooperation, etc) is indicative of how we will attempt to achieve it as adults.

If there are any parents reading this - are you feeling pressured yet? ;)