Alfred adler social interest theory

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Alfred adler's social interest theory

Alfred adler is the father of individual psychology. One of the terms he always referred to in his writings is the term social interest.

The social interest theory is a theory that attempts to explain the relationship between a person and the people he deals with in his society.

Adler said that kids develop a certain degree of social interest (interest in others) as a result of the way they are brought up. (see How parenting affects a child's personality)

However Some kids get subjected to certain conditions that prevents them from developing social interest or that lets them develop minimal social interest. Those are the neurotics according to Adler's perspective.

In this article i will tell you more about Alfred adler's social interest theory.

Why do some kids lack social interest?

The first people the child deals with in his life are his caregivers. If the caregivers were abusive the kid might fail to develop love for them and as a result he might fail to love anybody else throughout his life.

The relationship with the caregivers and the child usually determines the relationship of the child with the rest of the world. (see I need to be loved)

According to the social interest theory kids who were raised by abusive parents lack social interest. This abuse could take many forms such as neglect, violence, physical abuse...etc.

Lack of social interest & The social interest theory

So what happens when a child fails to develop social interest?
According to the social interest theory if a child failed to develop social interest then he might try to reach his goals in a way that is harmful to the society.

Individual psychology is based on the principle that each person has a certain line of direction or a big goal that he is going after. The person tries to use all of the resources available to him to reach that important goal.

If the person lacked social interest he might consider harming others as a possible option that can help him reach his goals if he didn't find any other way.

Lack of Social interest and crime

Criminals lack social interest according to what Alfred Adler said and that's why they try to reach their goals even if they had to harm others. (see Understanding a criminal's psychology)

If a man always felt inferior then he might develop the goal of wanting to become superior. Now if that man had enough social interest he might try to succeed in life in order to become superior to others but if he lacked social interest then he might become a criminal or a terrorist.

While both methods will help him feel superior still the one that resulted from lack of social interest caused a lot of harm to the society.

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