H. M. Kallen (essay date 1925)
SOURCE: "Psychology without Compromise," in The Dial, Vol. LXXVIII, March, 1925, pp. 236-39.
[In the following review, Kallen offers a skeptical summary of Adler's system of individual psychology.]
Nowadays, when people talk of the "new psychology," they mean prevailingly the ideas about the human mind deriving from the work of Freud and his associates. Although the custom is to lump this work in a single, solid, homogeneous mass, it is, in fact, still nebular, with three definite heads distinguishable in it. At the centre is the system of human nature constructed and stated, more or less architecturally, by Freud himself and accepted as the incontrovertible orthodoxy by the congregation of the faithful. To the right and to the left are the heterodoxies of Jung, the Swiss, and Adler, the Austrian. Both heterodoxies consist primarily in a rejection or deprecation of the cardinal orthodox dogma regarding the supreme role of sexuality in the life of man from birth to death. Jung absorbs this sexuality in a prior and wider stream of activity which turns his speculations regarding human nature into a metaphysical sentimentalism of the type of Eucken or Bergson. Adler subordinates this sexuality to a prior and wider "will-to-power" which allies his speculations concerning human nature with a metaphysical voluntarism of the type of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Vaihinger. Both philosophers of mind differ from their metaphysical relatives in that they generate their speculative dogmas out of the material provided by means of the technique of psychoanalysis, of which both are practitioners. This technique is the common denominator of the three sects. The rest may be considered what Alder would call "arrangements" of the material drawn out by the technique.
[The Practice and Theory of Individual Psychology] is a redundant compilation of Adlerian "arrangements." It consists of a collection of twenty-eight occasional pieces, the earliest dating from 1911. Their sequence has been made, as nearly as it could be, logical rather than temporal, and the themes mount in technicality and range as the essays proceed. There are subjects as varied as the psychic treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and Dostoevsky; myelodysplasia and the individual-psychology of prostitution. Nevertheless, the essays do not avoid being boresomely repetitious. Dr Radin, in his work of translation, seems not to have succeeded so well as he might have in reducing the unnecessarily technical, involved, and pontificating style of the originals to a direct and readable English. Those who are familiar with Dr Adler's German will, however, not too greatly blame him. They will remember how much worse that is than even the bad German most of the German-speaking psychoanalysts seem to have fallen into.
Adler calls his system of human nature the system of "individual psychology." He intends by this phrase that the psyche of each man is always to be considered an organic and indissoluble unity. It is a...
(The entire section is 1249 words.)