General Description

Accordhig to Adler (1956), the one factor underlying all types of maladjustments is underdeveloped social interest. Besides lacking social hiterest, neurotics tend to (1) set their goals too high, (2) live hi their own private world and (3) have a rigid and

80 Part II Psychodynamic Theories dogmatic style of life. These three characteristics follow inevitably from a lack of social interest. In short, people become failures in life because they are overconcemed with themselves and care little about others. Maladjusted people set extravagant goals as an overcompensation for exaggerated feelings of inferiority. These lofty goals lead to dogmatic behavior, and the higher the goal, the more rigid the striving. To compensate for deeply rooted feelings of inadequacy and basic insecurity, these individuals narrow their perspective and strive compulsively and rigidly for unrealistic goals.

The exaggerated and unrealistic nature of neurotics' goals sets them apart from the community of other people. They approach the problems of friendship, sex, and occupation from a personal angle that precludes successful solutions. Their view of the world is not in focus with that of other individuals and they possess what Adler (1956) called "private meaning" (p. 156). These people find everyday living to be hard work, requirmg great effort. Adler (1929/1964) used an analogy to describe how these people go through life.

Ill a certain popular music hall, the "strong" man conies on and lifts an enormous weight with care and intense difficulty. Then, during the hearty applause of the audience, a child conies in and gives away the fraud by carrying the dummy weight off with one hand. There are plenty of neurotics who swindle us with such weights, and who are adepts at appearing overburdened. They could really dance with the load under which they stagger, (p. 91)

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