Creative Power

The filial tenet of Adlerian theory is: Style of life is molded by people's creative power.

Each person, Adler believed is empowered with the freedom to create her or his own style of life. Ultimately, all people are responsible for who they are and how they behave. Their creative power places them in control of then own lives, is responsible for their final goal, determines then method of striving for that goal, and contributes to the development of social interest. In short, creative power makes each person a free individual. Creative power is a dynamic concept implying movement, and this movement is the most salient characteristic of life. All psychic life involves movement toward a goal, movement with a direction (Adler, 1964).

Adler (1956) acknowledged the importance of heredity and environment hi forming personality. Except for identical twhis, every child is born with a unique genetic makeup and soon comes to have social experiences different from those of any other human. People, however, are much more than a product of heredity and environment. They are creative beings who not only react to their environment but also act on it and cause it to react to them.

Each person uses heredity and environment as the bricks and mortar to build personality, but the architectural design reflects that person's own style. Of primary importance is not what people have been given, but how they put those materials to use. The building materials of personality are secondary. We are our own architect and can build either a useful or a useless style of life We can choose to construct a gaudy fa├žade or to expose the essence of the structure. We are not compelled to grow in the direction of social interest, inasmuch as we have no inner nature that forces us to be good. Conversely, we have no inherently evil nature from which we must escape. We are who we are because of the use we have made of our bricks and mortar.

Adler (1929/1964) used an interesting analogy, which he called "the law of the low doorway." If you are trying to walk through a doorway four feet high, you have two basic choices. First, you can use your creative power to bend down as you approach the doorway, thereby successfully solving the problem. This is the maimer hi which the psychologically healthy individual solves most of life's problems. Conversely, if you bump your head and fall back, you must still solve the problem correctly or continue bumping your head. Neurotics often choose to bump their head on the realities of life. When approaching the low doorway, you are neither compelled to stoop nor forced to bump your head. You have a creative power that permits you to follow either course.

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