Chapter 3: Alfred Adler – Individual Psychology Essay

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According to Adler, ______________ is the “barometer of normality
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social interest
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The most important factor for the child in Adler’s family constellation is
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subjective perception of self and environment
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Early in his career, Adler used which term to refer to the single force behind all human motivation
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Will to Power
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Adler’s break with Freud was due to
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the fact that Adler could not accept Freud’s strong emphasis on sexual factors as motivators of behaviour Adler spent most of his life battling to dispel the notion he had ever been a Frued follower
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Adler’s notion of moving backward is similar to Freud’s notion of
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regression
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Adler maintained that Social Interest is…
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inborn, but brought to expression through experience
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Adler first postulated the aggressive drive and the will to power as the fundamental motivations that shape human personality. He later extended his view to include the
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striving for superiority or success
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Adler’s Individual Psychology
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Adler was an original member of Freud’s psychoanalytic group, but he never saw himself as a disciple or a follower of Freud. Freud’s view of humanity was pessimistic and rooted in biology, Adler’s view was optimistic, idealistic, and rooted in family experiences. Adler believed that psychologically healthy people are usually aware if what they are doing and why they are doing it.
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Biography of Alfred Adler
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Alfred Adler was born in 1870 in a Viennese suburb, a second son of middle-class Jewish parents. Like Freud, Adler was a physician, and in 1902, he became a charter member of Freud’s organization. However, personal and professional differences between the two men led to Adler’s departure from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1911. Adler soon founded his own group, the Society for Individual Psychology. Adler’s strengths were his energetic oral presentations and his insightful ability to understand family dynamics. He was not a gifted writer, a limitation that may have prevented him from attaining world recognition equal to that of Freud.
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KEY POINTS OF INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY
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1. The force behind people’s behaviour is the striving for success or superiority – Striving for success or superiority a) final goals b) striving as compensation towards completion c) success d) superiority 2. Subjective perception shape behaviour and personality – where Subjective perception is shaping personality a) fictionalism b) subjective view of our physical inferiority 3. Personality is unified and self-consistent – that’s Unified and self-consistent a) organ dialect b) conscious and unconscious 4) The Value of all human activity must be seen from the viewpoint of social interest – and valued by its social interest a) community feeling 5) The Self-consistent personality structure develops into a person’s style of life – that will one day develop into style of life a) flexibility in reaching goals b) 3 life problems of neighbourly love, sexual love and occupation solved by courage, willingness to participate and cooperation 6) Style of life of molded by people’s creative power – molded by creative power. a) heredity and environment are the building blocks to create our lives both healthy or unhealthy
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1) Striving for Success or Superiority
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The sole dynamic force behind people’s actions is the striving for success or superiority. Individual psychology holds that everyone begins life with feelings of inferiority that then motivate a person to strive for success or superiority. Psychologically healthy individuals strive for the success of all humanity where unhealthy people seek for their own personal superiority. In striving for this success for superiority each individual is guided by several principles: a) the final goal, b) The striving force as compensation, c) Striving for Personal Superiority, d) Striving for Success
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A. The Final Goal
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The final goal of success or superiority toward which all people strive *unifies personality* and makes all behavior meaningful. Each person has the power to create personalized fictional goals and shapes their behaviors creating their own personality. In striving for their final goals, people create and pursue many preliminary goals. These are often conscious, but the connection between them and the final goal is usually unknown. When the final goals become known, all actions leading up to it make sense and have new significance.
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B. The Striving Force as Compensation
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Because people are born with small, inferior bodies, they feel inferior and attempt to overcome these feelings through their natural tendency to move toward completion. The striving force can take one of two courses— one of personal gain (superiority) or one of community benefit (success).
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C. Striving for Personal Superiority
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Psychologically unhealthy individuals strive for personal superiority with little concern for other people. Although they may appear to be interested in other people, their basic motivation is of personal benefit. Their goals are personal and their strivings are motivated largely by an exaggerated feeling of personal inferiority or an inferiority complex
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D. Striving for Success
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In contrast, psychologically healthy people strive for the success of all humanity, but they do so without losing their personal identity.
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Diagram of the Two Basic Methods of Striving towards the Final Goal.
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Subjective Perceptions
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This was Adler’s belief that People’s subjective view of the world—not reality—shapes their behavior. These views included Fictionalist perceptions and Perceptions of Physical Inferiorities.
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A. Fictionalism
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Fictions are people’s expectations of the future. Adler held that fictions guide behavior because people act as if these fictions are true. Ex. Humans have free will is a fiction believed so people can make choices and feel in charge of their lives. Adler emphasized teleology over causality and emphasized explanations of behavior as concerning future goals rather than it being explained by past causes.
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B. Physical Inferiorities
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Adler believed that all humans are “blessed” with physical inferiorities, which stimulate subjective feelings of inferiority and move people toward perfectionism or completion. Some people compensate for these feelings by moving towards physical health and a useful style of life that contributes to society and others wellbeing, and others overcompensate and retreat from others. Physical deficiencies alone do not cause a particular style of life, but the provide a present motivation for reaching future goals.
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Unity and Self-Consistency of Personality
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Adler believed that all people are unique, and insists on the fundamental unity of personality: the notion that inconsistent behavior does not exist. All behaviors are directed toward a single purpose. When people behave unpredictably their behaviour forces others the be on the defense. When seen in the light of the end goals, however, seemingly contradictory behaviors can be seen as operating in a self-consistent manner. Although erratic people are often successful in their attempt to gain superiority, they usually remain unaware of their underlying motives. Adler recognises two key ways in which an entire person operates with unity and self-consistency, these includes A: Organ Dialect and B: Conscious Unconscious.
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A. Organ Dialect:
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Expresses the direction of the individuals goal. People often use a physical disorder to express the style of life they have taken. They use physical ailments as the voice to express a message, rather than their words. Ex a man with arthritis uses his hands to express that he does not want to do manual labour.
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B. Conscious and Unconscious
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This example of a unified personality expresses the harmony between conscious and unconscious actions. These processes are unified and operate to achieve a single goal in a healthy individual. The part of our goal that is not clearly understood is unconscious; that part of our goal we fail to comprehend fully is conscious.
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Social Interest
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Human behavior has value to the extent that it is motivated by social interest, that is, a feeling of oneness with all of humanity. The Value of all human activity must be seen from the viewpoint of social interest.
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“Community feeling”
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The feeling of oneness with all humanity, to bind together – and is a necessity for perpetuating the human species.
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A. Origins of Social Interest
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Although social interest exists as potential in all people, it must be fostered in a social environment. Adler believed that the parent-child relationship can be so strong that it negates the effects of heredity.
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B. Importance of Social Interest
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According to Adler, social interest is “the sole criterion of human values,” and the worthiness of all one’s actions must be seen by this standard. Without social interest, societies could not exist; individuals in antiquity could not have survived without cooperating with others to protect themselves from danger.
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The Self-consistent personality structure develops into a person’s style of life
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The manner of a person’s striving is called a style of life. A pattern that is relatively well set by 4 or 5 years of age. However, Adler believed that healthy individuals are marked by flexible behavior and that they have some limited ability to change their style of life. They can see many possible ways to style their lives to reach their final goals.
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The three major life problems
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Healthy individuals actively struggle to solve these : 1) neighbourly love, 2) sexual love, and 3) occupation They do so through a) cooperation b) personal courage and c) willingness to make contributions to the welfare of another. A socially useful lifestyle is the highest form of the evolutionary process to Adler. Unhealthy individuals are inflexible marked by their inability to chose new ways of reacting to their environment.
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Style of life as molded by people’s creative power
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Style of life is partially a product of heredity and environment—the building blocks of personality—but ultimately, style of life is shaped by people’s creative power: that is, by their ability to freely choose a course of action. This places people in control of their own lives and makes them responsible for the achievement of their own goals. We are who we are because we have made the bricks and mortar of heredity and the environment. And build our lives with them.
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Adler’s Low Door Way Analogy
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If you are trying to walk through a 4-foot doorway you have two choices. You can use your creative power to bend down, solving the problem. Or if you bump your head and fall back you still must solve the problem or continue bumping your head. Neurotics continuously bump their head on the realities of life. Your creative power permits you to follow either course.
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Abnormal Development
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People are what they make of themselves. Creative power is not limited to healthy people; unhealthy individuals also create their own personalities. Thus, each of us is free to choose either a useful or a useless style of life.
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A. General Description of Abnormal Development
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The most important factor in abnormal development is underdeveloped social interest. In addition, people with a useless style of life tend to (1) set their goals too high in an attempt to reduce feelings of inferiority, (2) have a dogmatic style of life because of the high goals they set, and (3) live in their own private world with a narrow perspective. These people find every-day living to be hard work and have problems approaching friendship These three characteristics flow from one with a lack of social interest. People fail in life because of their over concern for themselves and lack of concern for others.
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B. External Factors in Maladjustment
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Adler listed three factors that relate to abnormal development: 1) exaggerated physical defects 2) a pampered style of life 3) a neglected style of life.
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(1) exaggerated physical defects
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Which do not by themselves cause abnormal development, but which may contribute to it by generating subjective and exaggerated feelings of inferiority. This is when people exaggerate their physical deficiencies in conjunction with their already established feelings of inferiority.
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(2) a pampered style of life
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these people have weak social interest but a strong drive to perpetuate the pampered relationship they originally had with both parents. They expect others to look after the, and satisfy their needs. These feeling of being neglected to stockpile a sense of inferiority.
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(3) a neglected style of life
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Children who feel unloved or unwanted are likely to borrow heavily from these feelings in creating a neglected style fo life – which leads to distrust of other people.
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Safeguarding Tendencies
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Both normal and neurotic people create symptoms as a means of protecting their fragile self-esteem. These safeguarding tendencies maintain a neurotic lifestyle and protect a person from public disgrace. Can be compared to Freud’s? defence mechanisms.
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The three principal safeguarding tendencies are
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(1) excuses, which allow people to preserve their inflated sense of personal worth; Yes but if… If only statements. (2) aggression, which may take the form of depreciating others’ accomplishments, accusing others of being responsible for one’s own failures, or self-accusation torturing oneself with guilt – in order to torture others. (3) Withdrawal/ hesitation, which can be expressed by psychologically moving backward to safeguard ones fictional goal of superiority by physically reverting to a more secure period of life – this can be consciously done, standing still not moving in any direction ensuring them selves against any failure to inflate their sense of self-worth.
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(1) excuses,
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which allow people to preserve their inflated sense of personal worth; Yes but if… If only statements.
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(2) aggression
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Which may take the form of depreciating others’ accomplishments, accusing others of being responsible for one’s own failures, or self-accusation torturing oneself with guilt – in order to torture others.
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(3) Withdrawal
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which can be expressed by psychologically moving backward to safeguard ones fictional goal of superiority by physically reverting to a more secure period of life – this can be consciously done, standing still not moving in any direction ensuring them selves against any failure to inflate their sense of self-worth.
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D. Masculine Protest
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Both men and women sometimes overemphasize the desirability of being manly, a condition Adler called the masculine protest. The frequently found inferior status of women is not based on physiology but on historical developments and social learning. Boys are often taught early that being masculine means being courageous, strong, and dominant. In contrast, girls often learn to be passive and to accept an inferior position in society.
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Adler Vs Freud on Women
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In contrast to Adler’s more democratic attitude, Freud believed that anatomy is destiny and that women occupy the ‘dark continent” of psychology. Near the end of his life, Freud was still asking what women wanted. According to Adler, Freud’s attitudes toward women would be evidence of a person with a strong masculine protest. In contrast to Freud’s views on women, Adler assumed that women—because they have the same physiological and psychological needs as men—want more or less the same things that men want.
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Family Constellation
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Adler believed that people’s perception of how they fit into their family is related to their style of life. He claimed that firstborns are likely to have strong feelings of power and superiority, to be overprotective, and to have more than their share of anxiety. Second born children (such as Adler) are likely to have strong social interest, provided they do not get trapped trying to overcome their older sibling. Youngest children are likely to be pampered and to lack independence, whereas only children have some of the characteristics of both the oldest and the youngest child.
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Early Recollections
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A more reliable method of determining style of life is to ask people for their earliest recollections. Adler believed that early memories are templates on which people project their current style of life. These recollections need not be accurate accounts of early event, but true or false, they have psychological importance because they reflect a person’s current view of the world.
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Dreams
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Adler believed that dreams can provide clues to solving future problems. However, dreams are disguised to deceive the dreamer and usually must be interpreted by another person
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Psychotherapy
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The goal of Adlerian therapy is to create a relationship between therapist and patient that fosters social interest. To ensure that the patient’s social interest will eventually generalize to other relationships, the therapist adopts both a maternal and a paternal role.
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Critique of Adlerian Theory
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Individual psychology rates high on it ability to generate research, organize data, and guide the practitioner. It receives a moderate rating on parsimony, but because it lacks operational definitions, it rates low on internal consistency. It also rates low on falsification because many of its related research findings can be explained by other theories.
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Concept of Humanity
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Adler saw people as forward moving, social animals who are motivated by goals they set (both consciously and unconsciously) for the future. People are ultimately responsible for their own unique style of life. Thus, Adler’s theory rates high on free-choice, social influences, and uniqueness; very high on optimism and teleology; and average on unconscious influences.
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Discuss Adler’s concept of fictionalism
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a belief or expectation of the future that motivates present behaviour. In his concept of fictionalism, this fiction acts as a final goal that guides one’s style of life. Fictions may not be true but people act as if they were true because people are motivated by their subjective perceptions of what is true. He adopted a teleological point of view in which people are motivated by their perceptions of the future.
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Critique Adler’s ideas as a scientific theory
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Adler’s ideas above average on its ability to generate research as many social interest scales have been developed based on his theory. His theories ability to organize knowledge is rated high due to his practical views, and his ability to guide action is rated very high. However, his theory lacks internal consistency, and his parsimony is about average. His main concept of early childhood recollections having an impact on one’s style of life has become difficult for researchers to verify or falsify. Adler’s ideas without a doubt encompass the boundaries for a scientific theory. His ideas have sparked numerous social interest scales, and his methods have proved helpful to practitioner’s using individual psychology to treat their clients. The inability to scientifically study his concept of creative power, or that early childhood recollections positively correlate to current style of life, make it difficult to deduce that his ideas are considered scientific. In terms of casual studies, his theory has been rendered useful, but is lacking in the scientific areas.
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Adler believed that maladjusted people
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set their goals too high
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Adler would see an individual’s inconsistent behaviour as
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a person’s attempt to strive for superiority
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From Adler’s biography, we know that he
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came from a Jewish background. he had a younger brother who died in infancy. he was second born.
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Adler’s concept of standing still is similar to Freud’s concept of ?
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fixation
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The night before Adler made his first trip to the United States, he dreamed
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that his ship capsized and he had to swim to safety
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Vacillating, procrastinating, or behaving compulsively are examples of which Adlerian safeguarding tendency?
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Hesitating

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