Psychoanalytic, Jung, Adler Theories
This paper will compare and contrast psychoanalytic, Jungian and Adler's Individual Psychology Theories. The founding theorists will be discussed in a manner that justifies their individual rationale and philosophy for each particular perspective. In conclusion, the concepts of each theory will be integrated as a method of personal theory development.
Sigmund Freud is the founder of psychoanalytic theory. Freud theorized that the primary motivator of human existence is the unconscious and that man is motivated by intrapsychic sexual conflict. He felt that behavior is a compromise between opposing mental forces and instinctual sexual urges that are innate or beyond human control. The goal of psychoanalytic theory is to assist the client to “uncover and resolve unconscious conflicts and to strengthen the ego by redirecting energy to conscious processes” (Murdock, 2009, p. 50).
Carl Jung was a student of Freud who opposed Freud's belief that sexuality is the primary motivator of human behavior. Jung felt that human behavior is motivated by an individual's quest for individuality and meaning. Like Freud, Jung felt that the unconscious did contain negative feelings, but it also represents the origin of human potential, creativity and existential meaning. Jung's theory of the unconscious is one of main differences and a key reason why he opposed Freud's theory of psychoanalysis. Jung's theory focuses on the “internal conflicts of an individual, as well as the existential meaning of the individual's life” (Murdock, 2009, p. 72).
Albert Adler is the founder of Individual Psychology. Like Jung, he was a student of Sigmund Freud. Much of Adler's optimistic opposition to Freud's theory stems from his early motivation to overcome obstacles. He was a sick and frail child who felt that his triumph over his early inferiorities “set the stage for both his medical career and theoretical ideas” (Murdock, 2009, p. 106). Similar to Jung, Adler disagreed with Freud's belief that human behavior is motivated by sexual urges. Adler was a strong advocate for social change. As a Jew, Adler witnessed and was severely persecuted in the post WW I climate of European social unrest. He was a staunch social activist and feminist dedicated to bettering social conditions. Because of his strong beliefs as a social reformist, Adler's perspective on the motivation for human behavior is the strive for perfection and an interest in improving society. Adler's “holistic” perspective describes the task of Individual Psychology as thinking, feeling and behaving as an integrated system “directed toward pursuit of the individual's goals” (Murdock, 2009, p. 110). Unlike Freud, Adler felt that man is motivated by his goals, rather than by instinct. Individual Psychology recognizes that each person interprets, combines his environment, genetic inheritance and experiences into his own lifestyle and goals. “Ultimately, the motivation for human behavior is how the individual reconciles the search for significance and feelings for others” (Murdock, 2009, p. 111). Adler felt that all behavior is purposeful and is motivated by the need to belong. He attributed conflict to developmental problems such as faulty parenting or social factors such as sexism, racism, and classism. He cited society as a whole as a contributing factor to a healthy psyche.
As a future addictions counselor and nurse, it is likely that I will employ an integrative modality of theoretical assessment and treatment to this specialized population. From Freud's psychoanalytical model, a therapist is taught to carefully assess and address the client's use of defense mechanisms. Addicts commonly display denial, projection, regression, and repression as hallmark diagnostic criteria that define and potentiate their disease process. Jung believed that man's behavior is motivated by a search for existential meaning. He was the son of a minister and was fascinated by philosophy, the occult, myths and symbols. He is cited in the Alcoholics Anonymous' historical literature and was integral to the foundation of AA in theory and practice (Bluhm, 2006, p. 314). Jung recognized that existential meaning brought changes in motivation and purpose for life. Adler believed that one cannot thrive without goals and a social interest. He identified psychological symptoms as nonconscious forms of safeguarding such as making excuses, aggression, distancing from tasks perceived as threatening, and restricting one's possibilities in life. As an addictions counselor, I will employ the methods set forth by Freud to identify and assist with the resolution of inner conflicts that manifest in defense mechanisms. Additionally, I will encourage and model an existential philosophical method that educates individuals regarding alternative methods of fulfillment such as 12 step programs. Finally, through the integration of Adler's holistic principles as they relate to mind, body and spirit, I will assess an individual according to his own individual lifestyle and response to the question, “What would be different in your life if...your symptom disappeared?” (Murdock, 2009, p. 124).
Bluhm, A. C. (2006). Verification of C.G. Jung's Analysis of Rowland Hazard and the History of Alcoholics Anonymous. History of Psychology, 9, 313-324.
Murdock, N. L. (2009). Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.