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The Freudian Theory and the Adlerian Theory Coursework


Human beings are so unique and special because of their diversity both in looks and character. This diversity is experienced in all avenues of our lives as we interact with others. An understanding of the various psychological differences that exist can help us relate better with others and at the same time, understand ourselves.

While these classifications do not explain the intrinsic details of one’s psyche, they do offer an understanding of psychological types thereby leading to better perceptive of human beings (Butt, 2005).

Over the years, many scholars have developed different theories in order to explain and explore how the human psychology works. This paper shall review in detail the Freudian Theory and the Adlerian Theory. A comparison of the same shall be given citing their key concepts. In addition, the applicability of these theories to therapists shall also be discussed.

Alfred Adler was born in 1870. After receiving his medical degree in 1895, he concentrated his attention and acquired knowledge in exploring social issues. He worked with Sigmund Freud for years until they had to separate due to their different opinions on human personality. Consequently, Adler started his own individual school of psychology.

Freud theory on sexuality emphasized that neurosis is based on sex (Geyskens, 2005). However, Adler begged to differ stating that neurotic behavior was not dependent on the sex but was rather an overcompensation of inferiority complex (Schultz, 2005). According to Adler, feelings of inferiority are developed when an individual feels helpless and irrelevant during the childhood stages. He attested to this citing that he was suffering from inferiority complex during his childhood.

To this end, Adler’s theory paid more attention on relevant social forces that could be used to overcome this affliction. He stated that therapists should focus their practice on tools that help neurotic patients overcome those feelings of inferiority through social interaction. In addition, Adler had a different opinion on Freud’s theory on libido.

According to Adler, each human being is complete. He further asserted that an individual’s present social goals are designed during his/her infancy irrespective of the level of inferiority experienced. In case of a child suffering from inferiority complex, the individual will therefore strive hard to compensate through the search of power and supremacy as well as a sense of belonging. As such, these are the present goals of such a candidate.

Through his work experiences, Freud realized that there were symptoms which had no bodily basis but imitated those showcased by people having neurological disorders. As such, he dedicated his efforts in finding psychological explanations and treatments for these symptoms.

His analyses were thereafter based on the ID, the ego and the super ego. However, Adler felt that Freud’s theories were more inclined towards the instinctive and biological aspects of the human personality and failed to consider the societal impact on the same.

Adler theorized that the people, society and culture surrounding an individual play a pivotal role in developing their personalities and behaviors more than the biological aspects. He insisted that human beings are more rational in their decision making process than Freud thinks. As such, his theories concentrated more on the social aspects than on the biological issues.

Adler’s theories recognized intuitive development as a core factor to the formation of a lifestyle and that it begins at childhood. On the other hand, Freud assumed that sexuality was a core determinant to the behaviors and responses of all individuals. Freud commented that;

“For, whether a man is a homosexual or a necrophiliac, an obsessional neurotic cut off from society, or a raving lunatic, the ‘Individual Psychologist ‘ of the Adlerian school will declare that the impelling motive of his condition is that he wishes to assert himself, to overcompensate for his inferiority, to remain ‘on top, to pass from the feminine to the masculine line “(Freud & Rothgeb, 1973, p. 505).

In relation to this comment, Freud tried to bring out inferiority as the main motive in Adler’s assumptions. In essence therapists work towards the reconstruction of an individual’s outlook to life by re-educating them on how best they can re-organize their priorities such that they become aware of their weaknesses and bringing out their repressed emotions from the unconscious self to the conscious level so as to face them and consequently overcome them (Corsini & Wedding, 2008).

In addition, Adler insists that it is not the experiences we face during childhood that are important but rather how we perceive and interpret these events in our present state. As such, Adler was convinced that human personality is forged by the relationship between an individual and the environmental stimuli around him.

This paper set out to compare the Freudian and Adlerian theories as pertaining to psychoanalysis. The various arguments forwarded by these scholars have been discussed and their differed points of contentions mentioned. While the theories formulated by Freud are not entirely accurate in their description of psychological behaviors, those presented by Adler suffice on that note.


Butt, J. (2005). Extraverted Sensing Feeling Perceiving. Retrieved From <>

Corsini, R, J & Wedding, D. (2008). Current psychotherapies. NY: Cengage Learning.

Freud, S & Rothgeb, C. (1973). Abstracts of The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. USA: International Universities Press.

Geyskens, T. (2005). Our original scenes: Freud’s theory of sexuality. USA: Leuven University Press.

Schultz, D, P. (2005). Theories of personality. CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The Freudian Theory and the Adlerian Theory." April 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-freudian-theory-and-the-adlerian-theory/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Freudian Theory and the Adlerian Theory'. 24 April.

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