Alfred Adler and personality development

Alfred Adler and personality development

Alfred Adler He states that each person is responsible for their decisions and the lifestyle they adopt. However, this did not lead him to deny the fact that there are factors external to the person that influence his lifestyle.

Among these factors are: overprotection and neglect. Both lifestyles can lead the person to maladaptation. Because the lifestyle is determined at an early age, the family directly influences these two factors.

For Alfred Adler, parental behavior is essential in the development of personality

There are a number of guidelines and socioeducational models that greatly influence the infant.


Overprotection occurs in children as a result of a lack of love. It is because the parents treated the child with such indulgence, and did so many things for them that made them believe that they are not able to resolve a conflict by themselves. As a consequence, overprotected people are constantly looking for someone to meet their needs.

People who adopt this lifestyle are characterized by having few social skills. In addition, they tend to believe that they have the right to be first and to be above others. They also have intense discouragement and excessive emotions in the face of problems.


Children who have been neglected by their parents tend to have a mismatch. This is observed in abandoned children, as well as in orphans, in illegitimate children and in those who simply were not wanted.

All these situations they make see the child that has no support from anyone, which makes them see any task as unattainable or extremely difficult. These children act without the slightest social interest, without confidence in themselves or others. They are usually aggressive and live with frustration and suspicion.

Neglected children can go to the other extreme and fall into overprotection, since they have a large number of emotional deficiencies. If someone agrees to fill that void inside, they can make these people enter into a dependency relationship with him.

The family constellation according to Alfred Adler

With the term family constellation, Alfred Adler referred to the birth order, the time that existed between the births of the brothers and the sex of each.

He analyzed this variable, since the interactions that someone has with their siblings influence personality development. Adler stipulated different hypotheses about the influence of the siblings' birth order in a family.

The firstborn

The first child has, at first, all the attention from his parents. Thus, tends to be spoiled and are more prone to superiority and anxiety behaviors.

They experience a particular situation, since In the beginning they are the center of attention and from one moment to another, these are “dethroned”. The situation is complex for them. In this way, they are the only ones who really feel this loss of attention when the second child arrives.

At this point the child's age influences, since the if the child is about 3 years old or older the safest, according to Alfred Adler, is that he has already established his Lifestyle. So, if your lifestyle was already selfish, your attitude with the second child will tend toward resentment. On the other hand, if the lifestyle adopted was healthy or cooperative, their attitude and behavior do not have to change.

The situation would be different if the child was less than 3 years old, since by this age he would not have adopted a lifestyle. Then, your feelings and behaviors will be unconscious, which will hinder your flexibility in the future. When a child does not resolve the conflict he has with dethronement, then they tend not to adapt and are likely to become neurotic.

The second child

According to Alfred Adler, who was the second child in his family, these children are born in a more convenient position. The second child is oriented based on the relationship and way of being of the first child.

In other words, if the older brother's behavior with respect to the minor is selfish, then the minor will begin to develop a competitive lifestyle. Similarly, if the older brother has a much more cooperative personality with the younger, then his personality will develop more around cooperation.

The youngest son

The youngest child develops in a warm environment, so there is a possibility that he may become a spoiled child and have feelings of inferiority. However, this position can have many other benefits, such as the motivation to outperform your older siblings.

The only son

The only son, by not presenting the need to compete with his siblings, he tends to identify with the adult lifestyle before. Therefore, it develops a feeling of superiority, in addition to an uncooperative attitude. These children can also be overprotective meat.


  • Adler, A., Bernstein, J., Brachfeld, F. O., Bernstein, J., & Rodríguez Bustamante, N. (1965).Neurotic character. Paidós ,.
  • Adler, A. (1957).The science of living. Diana.
  • Oberst, U., Ibarz, V., & León, R. (2004). The individual psychology of Alfred Adler and the psychosynthesis of Olivér Brachfeld.Journal of Neuro-Psychiatry67(1-2), 31-44.