Adler’s personality theories, in concert with the rest of his body of work, focused on human beings as individuals and worthy of study in terms of individual differences between people. But his theory on personality largely reflected the role of external events in shaping how we behave and how we react to certain stimuli. All in all, Alfred Adler’s creation of the field of individual psychology represented a leap forward in its basic assumptions, theoretical contributions, and informative concepts.
The field of individual psychology has since become what is known as differential psychology, or the psychology of individual differences. This added notion of “differences” makes the subject matter clearer: namely, the study of how individuals are different from one another, rather than just of individuals’ characteristics. At its earliest stages under the classical Adlerian theory, individual psychology represented the theory of human behavior emphasizing the need to overcome feelings of inferiority by compensation and the need for personal striving. These kinds of claims would come to be reflected in the works of famous and influential psychologists like Viktor Frankl (also a psychoanalyst) and Abraham Maslow (Boeree, 1998). Adlerian psychology existed not merely as a scientific venture but also as a school of thought with applications: that is, because Adler theorized that human beings are goal-oriented, he thought psychology could help assist human beings (Puget Sound Adlerian Society, 1999).
Because Adler’s influence emerged so early in the history of psychology, he introduced a number of novel and innovative concepts to help explain his theories and findings. Among these concepts were (1) the creative self, (2) a lifestyle, and (3) an inferiority complex. With respect to the creative self, Adler meant that the responsibility for the individuals personality into his own hands. In other words, each