2011 Reprint of 1930. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Adler left behind many theories and practices that very much influenced the world of psychiatry. Today these concepts are known as Adlerian psychology. His theories focused on the feelings of inferiority, and how each person tries to overcome such feelings by overcompensating (trying too hard to make up for what is lacking). Adler claimed that an individual's lifestyle becomes established by the age of four or five, and he stressed the importance of social forces, or the child's environment, on the development of behavior. He believed that each person is born with the ability to relate to other people and realize the importance of society as a whole. As a therapist, Adler was a teacher who focused on a patient's mental health, not sickness. Adler encouraged self-improvement by pinpointing the error in patients' lives and correcting it. He thought of himself as an enabler, one who guides the patient through "self-determination," so that the patients themselves can make changes and improve their state. Adler was a pioneer in that he was one of the first psychiatrists to use therapy in social work, the education of children, and in the treatment of criminals. The Science of Living is an intended to help the reader realize his potential.
Alfred Adler was born in Vienna, Austria on February 7, 1870. During the early decades of this century he originated the ideas which, to a large extent, have been incorporated in the mainstream of present-day theory and practice of psychology and psychopathology.
The second of six children, Adler spent his childhood in the suburbs of Vienna. He remembered that when he was about 5 years old, gravely ill with pneumonia, the physician told his father that he doubted the child would recover. It was at that time that Alfred decided he wanted to become a doctor so that he might be able to fight deadly diseases. He never changed his mind, and in 1895 he acquired his M.D. degree at the University of Vienna.
In 1912 Adler published his book, The Neurotic Constitution, in which he further developed his main concepts. He called his psychologic system "Individual Psychology," a term which is sometimes misunderstood. It refers to the indivisibility of the personality in its psychologic structure. His next book, Understanding Human Nature, which comprises lectures given at the Viennese Institute for Adult Education, is still on the required-reading list of some American high schools.
In 1926 Adler was invited to lecture at Columbia University, and from 1932 on he held the first chair of Visiting Professor of Medical Psychology at Long Island College of Medicine. During these and the following years he spent only the summer months, from May to October, in Vienna, and the academic year lecturing in the States. His family joined him there in 1935.
Adler's lectures were overcrowded from the beginning, and he communicated as easily with his audiences in English as he did when using his native German tongue.