Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington

Developmental Sequence of
The Feeling of Community

Developed by Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.

Copyrighted 1997, Reproduction Prohibited Without Permission
Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington, (360) 647-5670
(This is a broad simplification of the development of the feeling of community. See the general notes for additional information.)
SEQUENCE CHARACTERISTICS
APTITUDE Potential The feeling of community is an innate potential which has to be consciously developed by training into skill and ability. It is innately so small that it must benefit from social understanding to develop. After becoming an ability, it may then acquire secondary dynamic characteristics of attitude and motivation.
ABILITY Behavioral Behavioral capacities include: making contact with others; relating to others in a useful way; and contributing to the common welfare. The ability to cooperate depends on the degree of the feeling of community.
Intellectual Intellectual capacities include: understanding others' point of view and needs; accepting common sense over private logic; recognizing the inter-dependency of people; appreciating the contributions of others; and reasoning with view of immediate and future social consequences.
Emotional Emotional capacities include: empathy for others (to see with their eyes, to hear with their ears, to feel with their hearts); feeling connected to others; anf the ability to feel and express acceptance, liking, and love for others.
STYLE OF LIFE Attitudinal Attitudinal capacities include: feeling at home on the earth; a sense of harmony with the universe; a deep identification with others; a letting go of a preoccupation with self; and a profound feeling of belonging and embeddedness in social evolution.
Motivational Motivational capacities include: sustaining an active, creative, and generous interest in the welfare of others; contributing significantly to the community; and making unconditional, ongoing, spontaneous, positive social effort. The feeling of community is not manifest as mere conformity; it implies a constant striving for improvement and correction toward an ideal community for all people. The feeling of commnity, as a value, can be adopted as the individual's primary meta-motivation (See Abraham Maslow's The Farther Reaches of Human Nature). From an Adlerian viewpoint, genuine ethics are a result of a very high level of the feeling of community, and are a reflection of optimal mental health.


INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE AND SOCIAL ADJUSTMENT
EARLY DEVELOPMENT Mother The potential for contact and cooperation first develops between the child and mother. These capacities should be extended in ever widening social circles. She may mistakenly limit the child's interest to herself.
Father The father has the second chance for making a cooperative connnection with the child and spreading it beyond the home. He may be able to enhance what the mother has started, or compensate for what she has been unable to accompish.
Siblings Brothers and sister have the third chance of stimulating a cooperative attitude and extending it to other children.
Teachers If the family members have not won the child's cooperation, teachers have the fourth and crucial opportunity to elicit this crucial quality. Many earlier mistakes made in the family can still be corrected in the school.
LATER DEVELOPMENT Friends Encouraging and supportive friends offer many opportunities for pursing interests and engaging in activies for mutual benefit. For some people, they may also provide an extended or substitute "family-like" network.
Love/Sexual Partner A mentally, emotionally, and physically intimate relationship can deeply enrich the feeling of community, both between the individuals involved, as well as between the couple and society.
Work Associates Meaningful work, with cooperative, encouraging, and creative associates, can validate the feeling of having made a valuable individual or team contribution.
Spiritual Community A spirtual community or practice may offer a feeling of belonging to a group, and sense of interconnectedness with all of life.
Therapist The therapist provides a safe and supportive relationship for the indiviudal to make a trustworthy mental and emotional connection, stimulating the development of a mutually respectful cooperation. This experience must then be extended to others in that individual's life.
ADJUSTMENT Normal The feeling of community is the Adlerian barometer of mental health. It also provides a positive compensation for the normal inferiority feeling, by generating the the knowledge of being genuinely valuable--which originates from contributing to the common welfare.
Maladjustment All forms of social failure and psychological disorder, reveal a lack of a sufficient feeling of community. Problems are approached or avoided without adequate cooperation, and fictional goals of personal superiority are pursued, yielding imagined triumphs or defeats that have only private meaning and value.

GENERAL NOTES

  1. This table is based on concepts originally developed by Heinz Ansbacher.
  2. More detailed information about the feeling of community can be found in the distance training courses Basic Theory and Intermediate Theory: Part I
  3. For a comprehensive overview of Adlerian psychology, read Classical Adlerian Theory and Practice.
  4. For a visual representation, see The Feeling of Community graphic.
  5. In psychotherapy, the progressive development of the feeling of community usually requires a series of cognitve, affective, and behavioral strategies. For an overview, see the Stages of Classical Adlerian Psychotherapy table.

(In an attempt to create a clear, simple table, much detail must be excluded. This is a work in progress, and any feedback or suggestions for refinement would be appreciated. Please e-mail your comments to: Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., HTStein@att.net ).



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