Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washngton

Why Study The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler?
Preface to "A Clinician's Guide to The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler,"
by Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.

Why study The Collected Clinical Works of Alfred Adler (CCWAA)? Because misrepresentations of Adler permeate academic textbooks, training programs, and journal articles. Some instructors pull a few of his ideas out of their complex coherence to create easy-to-learn, popularized systems. Some organizations use these systems to “market” Adler to prospective students, who are then taught something with Adler's name that may bear little resemblance to his original teachings and style of treatment. Some authors of journal articles try to “improve” Adler to show how he can be connected to the latest trend, or “incorporated” into an eclectic approach. None of this does justice to Adler.

Why study The CCWAA? Because what he says there cannot be found anywhere else. Simplifications and distortions of Adlerian theory of personality, strategies for treatment, and philosophy of living are widespread. Indeed, these misrepresentations not only constitute the bulk of what is widely known as “Adlerian” today, but have also alienated much of the wider, depth therapy community, who often dismiss Adler's approach as superficial and aggressive. Based on what they have probably been taught, read, or seen demonstrated at workshops and conferences, they mistakenly pass judgment on Adler in a way that does not do him justice.

Why study The CCWAA? Because today, we all labor under a common handicap; none of us has studied personally with Alfred Adler. At best, a few of us have studied with mentors who were trained by Adler. Even fewer have studied with mentors who remained faithful to Adler's original teachings and style of treatment. Consequently, if we wish to do justice to Adler's approach, especially if we practice or teach psychotherapy, we have to compensate in two ways. First, we have the obligation to study and discuss his original writings until they become a rock-solid foundation for our treatment style. Also, to make Adler's theory, philosophy, and treatment principles come alive, we need to find a mentor who reflects the congruence of knowledge and character that Adler required of Individual Psychologists.

My mentor, Sophia de Vries, a masterful therapist who studied with Alfred Adler, Lydia Sicher, and Alexander Mueller, represented Adler faithfully in her work and her personal life. She inspired a small group of us to keep Adler's work alive in its original form. She cherished what Adler had given her, and felt obligated to pass it on as accurately as possible. In her mid-nineties, she still regularly studied Adler's writings in English and German. She encouraged me to teach others what I had learned from her, and to publish new English translations of Adler's important clinical writings. The publishing project, which became The CCWAA, took many years, and is now available in paperback and e-book formats. Sophia's mentor, Alexander Mueller, predicted in the 1950's that Adler's work would have to be rediscovered by a new generation. We can be that generation.

Why study The CCWAA? Although Adler's popular books, like Understanding Human Nature, What Life Could Mean to You, The Science of Living, and Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind, provide fine introductions to his ideas for students and the general public, they are insufficient resources for the psychotherapist. Only in The CCWAA can we find the accurate, complete Adler. These twelve volumes contain the full range of his therapeutic constructs, all repeatedly applied to a multitude of difficult cases. We cannot achieve an effective life style analysis by merely listing a client's mistaken ideas or identifying a typology. The heart of a successful treatment plan begins with a diagnosis based on using all of Adler's constructs which are appropriate to that case, customizing our diagnosis and treatment for the unique needs of each individual, as Adler did.

In practice, this means combing through all our interview notes and impressions to find clues that reveal the client's hidden dynamics, framing them with the relevant constructs: depth and type of inferiority feelings; strength and direction of the striving for superiority; degree and zone of activity (cognitive, affective, behavioral); level and type of intelligence; spectrum and purpose of feelings and emotions; range and depth of the feeling of community; private logic; modes of distance; depreciation tendency; antithetical scheme of apperception; and counter-fiction. Our initial guesses about the client's movement in relation to his life tasks, combined with the relevant constructs, provide the raw material for the fermentation of analysis and imagination that helps us uncover the height, direction, and range of the compensatory, unconscious, fictional final goal – the key to each individual personality. This last, crucial step involves an intuitive, creative leap that is not easy to master. In order to uncover the fictional goal, we have to learn how to translate our case impressions into psychological movement, a skill that is missing from most Adlerian training today. Yet Adler emphasizes the importance of “looking for the movement” repeatedly in his writings.

          The CCWAA provides the foundation for our training and certification in Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy. Our students study and discuss all of Adler's theoretical constructs and eventually use these constructs in extensive case supervision, focusing on life style diagnosis and treatment planning. They participate in a rigorous, personal study analysis, in order to dissolve their restrictive life style and redirect striving away from a compensatory fictional goal toward universal values, so that they can live more creatively, serving their clients more fully. We also include the inspirational writings of Abraham Maslow, since they provide a compatible path to Adler's vision of optimal human development. Only someone who experiences firsthand the emotional/intellectual/affective gestalt of Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy can accomplish it successfully with clients. This mentor-oriented, one-to-one relationship cannot be achieved quickly or in a group setting. Once a year, our community of learners comes together from all over the world in a three-day experiential workshop. Students help each other work on personal or professional issues, practicing what they know about Adlerian theory and treatment, building bonds of mutual support that exist nowhere else.

Why study The CCWAA? Because Adler was a genius. When we want to listen to Mozart, we play Mozart, not some imitation. Those who want to simplify and reduce Adler resemble Mozart's patron in the film, “Amadeus, who, bewildered by the richness and complexity of Mozart's music, suggests that the composer abbreviate his composition because “there are too many notes.” In Classical Adlerian Depth Psychotherapy, we are dedicated to training depth psychotherapists who can “play all the notes.”

Why study The CCWAA? Because unless more people learn not only what he really said, but also how to use it, we risk losing his legacy. If more clinicians do not learn how to practice Adler's original art of depth psychotherapy, what will happen to it? Who will teach it in years to come? Will it fade into obscurity, with merely the misrepresentations surviving? Adler's voice deserves to be heard today, because only his unique synthesis of psychology, pedagogy, and philosophy points the way for therapists to guide clients toward democratic living by building democratic character. He deserves no less.

A Clinician's Guide to The CCWAA: These chapter summaries were compiled by James Wolf, Manu Jaaskelainen, and Laurie Stein. Much more than standard abstracts, they guide a clinician to the heart of Adler's work by giving many examples of what he said and how he treated clients. In effect, they provide a primer for Classical Adlerian psychotherapy. For the purposes of focus and summary, many of Adler's quotations have been tightened. Henry and Laurie Stein did the final editing.

While Adler was generally far ahead of his time, most notably in his “unified field theory” of personality, insistence on gender equality, and emphasis on preventive education, his views on homosexuality reflect the bias of his time and culture. Nevertheless, in the interests of scholarship and historical accuracy, the article, “On Homosexuality,” is included in Volume 4 of The CCWAA. The contemporary Classical Adlerian view of sexuality focuses on encouraging cooperation between partners, and attempts to correct domination or depreciation within all sexual orientations.

Finally, grammatical correctness in Adler's time dictated the use of masculine pronouns. As his entire psychology is based on “the individual,” attempting to change all his references to the “gender-neutral” plural, or alternating masculine and feminine pronouns, would change his voice completely. We are dedicated to promoting what he originally said. For Adler, equality is fundamental, regardless of pronoun usage.

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"A Clinician's Guide to The Collected Clinical
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Shipping ..................................... $7.00
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For residents of all other U.S. states, the total charge for each book includes:
"A Clinician's Guide to The Collected Clinical
Works of Alfred Adler" ............. $49.00
Shipping ..................................... $7.00
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For residents of Canada, the total charge for each book includes:
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Works of Alfred Adler" ............. $49.00
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For all other countries, the total charge for each book includes:
"A Clinician's Guide to The Collected Clinical
Works of Alfred Adler" ............. $59.00
Shipping .................................... $27.00
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