Free Custom «Psychoanalytic Vs Adlerian Theory» Essay Paper

Free Custom «Psychoanalytic Vs Adlerian Theory» Essay Paper


Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler are two personalities held with distinction in the field of psychology. Although it is widely argued that Freud is a father of psychology and that Adler drew a lot from him, both psychologists developed theories widely used in therapeutic processes (Slavik & Carlson, 2005). This essay will look into what the two theories postulate in therapeutic processes. However, before we delve into comparing and contrasting the two theories and how they work in therapeutic processes, it is paramount to acquaint ourselves with the ideas that each theory holds. This will give us an insight into unearthing the similarities and differences that exist between the two similar but divergent perspectives the theories hold in counseling.

Freudian psychology theory or sometimes referred to as psychoanalysis is a brain child of an Austrian neurologist called Sigmund Freud. He came up with a body of ideas with a primary goal of studying human behavior and psychological thinking. In his study, he aimed at establishing how one thins and investigating functioning of the mind, explaining behavior of human beings using a set of theories, and lastly, ways of treating emotional and psychological illnesses (Benjamin & Dixon, 1996). Psychoanalysis is a broad term involving the development of humans; children and adults alike.

In the sunset of the nineteenth century, somewhere in Vienna, Freud’s interest in coming up with treatment for neurotic symptoms led to the formulation of the now famous theory. Freud (1955) asserts that his study was informed by the realization that there exists an unconscious mind. He formulated what came to be known as the Freudian psychoanalysis. The treatment process includes the use of dreams fantasies, verbalization of thoughts, and free associations. This helps create an insight into the resolving the problem because unconscious conflicts are brought out (Freud, 1960)

Alfred Adler also has a theory named after him, the Alderian theory. This theory emphasize on a number of issues. Adler (1964) tells us that these issues include social interests, birth order, lifestyle of an individual, and concepts which pertain to superiority and inferiority personality components. In his theory, Adler further postulates that social contribution to the community determines to a great extent the psychological health of an individual. In this case, Adler theory increases social contribution by reducing beliefs that are mistaken which often lead to inferiority and superiority feelings. The understanding of early memories, and dreams, and family constellations are often helpful in combating false bliefs (Benjamin & Dixon, 1996).

Adler’s ideas have been widely sought by psychologists in therapeutic processes has led to varied counseling approaches by different practitioners. The goal of Adler’s theory is to enhance social interest, make modifications on behavior that is self destructive, and solve problems in efficient ways. Handlbauer (1998) in his book Adler vs Freud controversy argues that psychotherapy using Adler’s theory presents counselors with an opportunity to address incorrect beliefs and patterns of thoughts. It is paramount to note that Adler’s theory drew a lot from Sigmund Freud’s theory.

Many therapists in their counseling processes are presented with the opportunity of observing and assessing clients in an effort to gauge their present lifestyle, family dynamics, and early childhood experiences. Moreover, therapists also use interpretive meaning and dreams to unearth current situation and struggles of an individual. These assessments may be carried out in an informal or formal way. Questionnaires and direct inquiry play vital roles in such situations.

In Adler’s theory, makes use of certain techniques that are techniques of immediacy, encouragement, and acting. In immediacy, therapists ask clients to focus on the present moment that is here and now. Clients are asked to communicate in the present moment to enable therapists understand their situations.  Encouragement technique, on the other hand, involves breaking the ice and establishing a rapport between the client and the therapist. Encouragement, in this case, helps clients overcome inferiority complex and low- self esteem. Lastly, therapists act by requesting the clients assume success in the fields they undertake (Slavik & Carlson, 2005).

Sigmund Freud theory is a revolutionary concept which in itself emphasized on the concept of the human unconscious. Freud with an associate called Josef Breuer argues that the id, ego, and the superego form the human psyche (Freud, 1960). They further formulate that the id is the unconscious that is associated with sexual life energy, errors, and anger. The ego ensures that people co exist in the world by balancing the energies (Freud, 1955). This owes to the strong nature of the ego. The theory also argues that the super ego is a person’s constructed mental image of the ideal self which involve all the norms and values an individual learns and internalizes from the surrounding environment. The super ago, therefore, acts to contain the id, whereas the ego acts to strike a balance between the two extremes. Freud (1955) asserts that mental disorders develop in early stages of a child&rsqquo;s life.

Freud was known by many including those who hold religious beliefs to be strong in character, and that he could not allow deviations from school of thought in addressing problems of neurosis and personality dynamics (Stengel, 1953). However, we will all agree that numerous details found in Adler’s theory are simply anecdotes of psychoanalysis theory and that through it; an individual will actualize himself or herself and thus shaping his or her own environment. Freud suggestions of perceiving one as a potential enemy and a competitor demands one to be in constant guard against everyone around him or her (Slavik &Carlson, 2005).

Neurosis is a disorder which is sexual in nature and origin that came to be as a price of civilization. Adler (1956) posits that women are the weaker sex and suffer from an inferiority complex because they envy the anatomy of men. They view this anatomy as a thing that dictates the destiny. Despite the applause received by Adler’s theory, it is still being criticized for lack of the scientific basis.

For a therapist to administer therapy using Freudian theory, he or she must understand well his predominant his narrative and interpretive technique that characterized his style. He or she has to understand how to interpret analysis of the self, dreams, and influences that the Greek mythologies contain. Freud argues that a person is holistic and dynamic with memory, behavior and emotions as components for pursuing social life. A person inherent aberration only allows a person to sublimate his or her basic division and distortion but do not eradicate demands and urges from instincts (Adler, 1956).

Adler, on the other hand, holds divergent views to those of Freud. He argues that the process of psychotherapy ought to be subjective with social goals forming its basis (Handlbauer, 1998). Adler’s suggestions, though taken as useful constructs, will be questioned by many psychologists. Freud also has received criticisms over insufficient empirical evidence in support of his assertions.


In conclusion, therefore, this paper has discussed in detail Freudian and Adlerian theories giving the ideas that each holds. The paper also sought to establish how the two theories function. I have discussed above, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Adlerian theories can be used in therapeutic processes only that they involve engaging different processes and components in their functioning. We can, therefore, argue that both theories have their own distinctive ways of functioning. It is the work of psychologist who offers therapeutic services to choose the theory to use.


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