Striving for Success or Superiority

The first tenet of Adlerian theory is: The one dynamic force behind people's behavior is the striving for success or superiority.

Adler reduced all motivation to a single drive—the striving for success or superiority. Adler s own childhood was marked by physical deficiencies and strong feelings of competitiveness with his older brother. Individual psychology holds that everyone begins life with physical deficiencies that activate feelings of inferiority— feelings that motivate a person to strive for either superiority or success. Psychologically unhealthy individuals strive for personal superiority, whereas psychologically healthy people seek success for all humanity.

Early hi his career, Adler believed that aggression was the dynamic power behind all motivation, but he soon became dissatisfied with this term. After rejecting aggression as a single motivational force, Adler used the term masculine protest, which hnplied will to power or a domination of others. However, he soon abandoned masculine protest as a universal drive while continuing to give it a limited role hi his theory of abnormal development.

Next, Adler called the single dynamic force striving for superiority. In his final theory, however, he limited striving for superiority to those people who strive for personal superiority over others and hitroduced the term striving for success to describe actions of people who are motivated by highly developed social interest (Adler, 1956). Regardless of the motivation for striving, each hidividual is guided by a final goal.

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