Not all styles of life are equally desirable. Sometimes, early in life, people develop strategies for improving their situations that are, in the long run, maladaptive. For example, a child may become overly dependent on doting parents or overly rebellious. Adler referred to these as "mistaken styles of life." He listed several types, which we shall examine here.
Ruling Type. Ruling types seek to dominate others. They may actively confront life's problems in a selfish way, becoming "delinquents, tyrants, sadists" (Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956, p. 168). Adler (1998) described, for example, a school girl who acted sarcastically and arrogantly toward her peers, seeking satisfaction there because she was unable to do her schoolwork. Or, if less active, ruling types may attack others indirectly through suicide, drug addiction, or alcoholism, according to Adler. Not all people of this type are despicable. Some, with talent and hard work, are high achievers, but they are vain and overly competitive. They may express their sense of superiority over others by belittling them, a tendency that Adler (1921/1927, p. l6l) called the deprecation complex.
Getting Type. Getting types lean on others. They are dependent. They adopt a passive, rather than active, attitude toward life, and they may become depressed. Adler said that pampered children and females are subject to environmental pressures that encourage this neurotic style, but it is always the choice of the individual, rather than external circumstances, that determines the style of life.
Avoiding Type. Avoiding types tiy not to deal with problems, thereby avoiding the possibility of defeat. Agoraphobia, an irrational fear that confines people to their homes, is one form of this maladaptive style of life. The avoiding type tends to be isolated and may strike others as cold. This outward appearance hides an underlying, but fragile, superiority belief. Whole classes, religious groups, and nations may adopt this style, which hinders the progress of civilization (Adler, 1921/1927, p. 186).
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