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Al***** *****'s concept of Social Interest set him apart from other theorists of his era. Freud's psychoanalytic views essentially created a person who was completely self for self oriented. Likewise, early behaviorists, such as ***** *****, pointed out that society acts as an agent of behavioral reinforcement. However, neither of these two theorists oriented psychology towards the development and improvement of society. Rather individual psychology was about satisfying one's own needs.
Social Interest explained that one's interactions in the world and personal growth were tied into the improvement of not only oneself, but the society in which a person lived. As a result, unlike other theorists, Social Interest creates a harmony between the individual and the goals of the society in which he or she is a part. This creates a cyclic and symbiotic relationship that is almost as significant as Maslow's self actualization but adds the greater good of the world to one's own growth. Therefore, in order to grow, one must benefit society.
Modern views of personality, including existentialism, support that a human is not a "being" alone in a society. Rather, we all affect and impact each other in a positive way as we grow. For Adler to describe Social Interest so many years ago, at the beginning of psychology's major history, is fantastically huge. He defined growth as almost all well respected visionaries of human society have done since including Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. Adler's thought is not only a standard of psychological health, but a standard that can measure the health of our relationships as people in totality. It is the definition of growth.
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