Introduction or youngest child. Adler started with this


Adler, the founding father of Individual Psychology was one of the first
theorists to suggest that birth order influences personality”( Gustafson,
2010).  As what is expected of the oldest
is different than the middle or youngest child. Adler started with this idea on
birth order and others have continued down this path of research.  “Having lived through WWI, Serving as a
physician, with the Austrian Army at the Russian front, and then in a
children’s hospital” (Adler, 2014). He was in a unique position to study people specifically
children in the aftermath of war.

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Biography portion

“Alfred Adler (1870 –
1937) was born in Penzing, Austria, the 2nd son of a Jewish grain
merchant.  In poor health as a child, he
did not walk until age four because of rickets; at age five Adler developed
pneumonia and was a close call for him, “(Adler.2014). This was only a few of
his childhood struggles. “In 1895 he received his medical degree from the
University of Vienna” (Schultz, 2011, p330).   “He
specialized in ophthalmology and practiced general medicine. When he became
interested in psychiatry in 1902, he joined Sigmund Freud’s weekly discussion
group on psychoanalysis, one of four charter members” (Schultz,
2011, p330).   He was the first president of Freud’s Vienna
Psychoanalytic Society, but was later voted out over disagreements with Freud
single minded focus on the male sex organ or the lack one depending on client’s
gender.  “In 1911, Adler split with Freud
to form his own group, several other members of the Freudian school left with him,
due to this breakup he is considered the first proponent of psychoanalysis” (Schultz,
2011, p330). The following year, in
1912, he published The Neurotic Constitution, where he coined the term
“Individual psychology”

proposed the concept of social interest, defined as an innate potential to
cooperate with others to achieve personal and societal goals. Our social
interest develops in infancy through learning experiences” (Schultz, 2011,
p330).  Focused on conscious not the
unconscious, Adler believed we are more strongly affected by our plans for the
future. Striving for goals or anticipating coming events can influence present
behavior” (Schultz, 2011, p331). 

“He proposed a
generalized feeling of Inferiority as a motivating force in behavior, for
example; a child who stutters may, through conscientious speech therapy, become
a great orator; a child with weak limbs may, through intensive exercise, excel
as an athlete or dancer” (Schultz, 2011, p331). 

examining his patients’ childhood years, Adler became interested in the
relationship between personality and birth order. He found that the oldest,
middle, and youngest children, because of their positions in the family, have
varying social experiences that result in different attitudes toward life and
different ways of coping” (Schultz, 2011, p332).

“Adler (as cited
in Ansbacher Ansbacher, 1956) stressed the golden
rule of Individual Psychology: Everything can be different” ( Watts, 2010).   “Similarly, birth-order
personality implications are not one size fits all” ( Watts, 2010).   “Instead,
they are important tools that, when coupled with such other developmental
issues as gender, family values, ethnicity, and community values, help provide
an environmental context to a client’s subjective understanding of the world” (
Watts, 2010).  “Additional factors such
as death or impairment of a sibling, blended families, a large age
gap between siblings, and differential familial and cultural norms may
influence expectations of siblings differentially” ( Watts, 2010).  Unfortunate that is too large of a body of
research to cover in the paper.


Psychologist work

The First born is the default leader in
the eyes of the parents which translates into the mindset of the children in
the family. Which in turn influences the devolvement of the child’s by changing
what is expected of them,” They are stereotypically thought to be serious,
conscientious, directive, goal oriented, aggressive, rule conscious,
responsible, jealous, high achieving, competitive, and high in self-esteem”(
Alfred, nd ).  “A Firstborn’s can have
feelings of a fear of being dethroned may make them less likely to engage in
risky behavior,” (Alfred, nd). Any siblings added to the family changes the
dynamic and priorities of the parents, for the Firstborn it means sharing the
attention with any other and how they cope with that feel having an effect on
them.  “Firstborns try to please their
parents by acting as surrogate parents for their siblings, a behavior that can
increase conscientiousness” (Rohrer, 2015).

 “The middle children often have the sense of
not belonging. They feel they have to fight to receive attention from others
because they feel many times they’re invisible at times to the rest of the
world” (Alfred, nd ).   “They tend to have fewer pictures in of them
in the house, compared to firstborns. The middle child can feel insecure this
in turn can affect their relationships throughout their life” (Alfred, nd ).  “Not surprisingly, Adler stressed that
second-born children make the best counselors; as he was one himself.  Not only do they have the opportunity to
observe and profit from mistakes the
first-born children make, but they also can learn compassion for
others by themselves initially being in a “second place-act
two slot” coming into the world” (Ansbacher, 1992).

“One study of 700 brothers who played
major league baseball found that younger brothers were 10 times more likely to
steal bases than their older brothers and were also superior in overall batting
success. This and other studies also showed that younger siblings were far more
likely to participate in high-risk activities such as skydiving (Sulloway &
Zweigenhaft, 2010)” (Schultz, 2011, p332). 
“Adler (as cited in Ansbacher & Ansbacher) emphasized the importance
of psychological birth order, it’s not when they are born, but what are they
born into and the way in which the kids
interprets it,” (Ansbacher, , 1956,p. 377).


“An only child may experience difficulties
in adjusting to the world outside the family, where he or she is not the center
of attention” (Schultz, 2011, p332).  Only
children are stereotypically seen as spoiled and the center of attention, not
always. They share some traits with both youngest and oldest as there is no
competition for affection from family and care givers. Though the “Research does not support
Adler’s view that only children are more selfish and have difficulty adjusting
to the real world”
2011, p332).

Humans are in part a
product of our environment that we’re raised in and adding to the family is a
chance in the environment, we must cope and change to move forward. While birth
order does not define us, it can impact us. Psychology is about the greater
understanding of human behavior.  Every
psychologist has their contribution to give, not everyone gets their fair share
of credit as Alfred Adler was shorted a few times; “Although many of Adler’s ideas have become widely accepted, his
public acclaim declined after his death and he has received relatively little
credit for his contributions. Many concepts have been plagiarized. For example,
the London Times obituary for Sigmund Freud, gave Freud credit for term ‘inferiority
complex’. When Carl Jung died, The New York Times reported that Jung had coined
the term! Neither paper mentioned Adler” (Schultz, 2011, p334).  Still, he’s remembered as one of the big
modern influences on psychology with William James, Sigmund Freund and Carl


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