Adler’s Resignation

On February 23, 1911, Alfred Adler (1870-1937), then 41 years of age and together with a number of adherents, withdrew from the Psychoanalytic Society in Vienna. He also resigned as first president because his scientific position was “incompatible with his post in the Society,” which thus ended a decade of cooperation with Freud aimed at an increased understanding of the neuroses.

When leaving the Society, Adler had already published his Studie über die Minderwertigkeit von Organen (1907), and in 1912 he published Über den nervösen Charakter. This was followed eight years later by Praxis und Theorie der Individualpsychologie. When he died in 1937, two years before Freud, Adler had added eleven more books to the literature of the new school of “Comparative Individual Psychology.” Nearly all of them have been translated into English, French, and various other languages.

Many open minded and energetic men and women, aware of the problems of human behavior and living, came to Vienna to study Individual Psychology with Adler and his early co-workers. Returning to their homes, they began to apply the principles they had learned to the promotion of democratic education and mental health. They founded groups or societies of Individual Psychology in one country after another; and, at the time of Adler’s death, the society’s number was over a score.

The First Adlerian Periodical

In 1910, at a Congress for Psychoanalysis in Weimar, Germany, Adler and Wilhelm Stekel (1940) were entrusted by the Psychoanalytic Society with editing a monthly journal. Adler withdrew also from this editorship in 1911 and founded the Internationale Zeitschrift für Individualpsychologie in 1914 as the first Adlerian periodical. Carl Furtmüller, Ph.D. (1880-1951), an educator, joined the physician Alfred Adler as editor. The new journal cultivated a fruitful relationship between psychotherapy and education, serving both the practical and theoretical needs of therapists and educators.

The July/August issue (Nos. 4/5) of the journal announced that Dr. Charlot Strasser of Zurich (1951) had become the third editor. World War I having broken out, he and his wife Vera published Nos. 6-9, in September of 1916 in neutral Switzerland. But the war, revolution and inflation silenced the journal for the next seven years.

After the war, several Individual Psychology groups were formed, in addition to the one in Vienna. One was founded in Munich in 1919 under Dr. Leonhard Seif (1949); one in Berlin in 1924 under Dr. Fritz Künkel (1956) and Manès Sperber (1905-1984); and one in Dresden in 1924 by Otto and Alice Rühle (1943) and Dr. Hugo Freund (1974). These groups were called “sections” of the “International Society for Individual Psychology.” Isolated adherents also supported the movement in various countries.

A Revival

In September 1923, Adler founded a new international journal which was edited by Ladislaus Zilahi. The journal published regular reports of the various groups’ activities and the growing literature of Individual Psychology. Besides theoretical and practical papers in German, which were summarized in English, occasionally it contained papers in English and French, which were summarized in German. Later, this impressive international periodical published six issues annually in Leipzig, and, after 1934, in Vienna. The last issue appeared in 1937 and contained commemorative papers on Adler along with a collection of articles from the world press which had announced the founder’s unexpected and premature death in Aberdeen, Scotland, on May 28, 1937, in the 68th year of his life.

This Internationale Zeitschrift für Individualpsychologie in its original form was revived in Vienna from 1947 to 1951 (Volumes 1620), sponsored by Dr. Alexandra Adler, Dr. Ferdinand Birnbaum (1947), Dozent Dr. Karl Nowotny and Professor Oskar Spiel (1961). Unfortunately, it did not survive. The center of Individual Psychology had moved from Europe to the United States of America.

From 1926 until his death, Adler lived the greater part of each year in the United States, where he taught at Columbia University and at the Long Island Medical College. He held the chair of the Medical Psychology department at the latter institution until his death. During his stay in the USA, he founded the International Journal of Individual Psychology, which was published from 1935 to 1938.

The Continuing of Adler’s Work

In 1940, with Europe at war, Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs (1897-1972), who had emigrated from Vienna to Chicago, brought out a small magazine named The Individual Psychology News. It served as an organ of communication between the Individual Psychology groups and workers. In its fourth year of publication, it became a well printed quarterly called Individual Psychology Bulletin. After the founding of the American Society of Adlerian Psychology in 1952, it grew into the official scientific organ of the Society under the title The American Journal of Individual Psychology. It aimed to serve as a forum for Adlerians and to relate Individual Psychology with other schools, stressing the uniqueness of Individual Psychology while helping to integrate Individual Psychology into the general development of psychology as a whole.

In 1958, Heinz L. Ansbacher, Professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont, took over the editorship and renamed the periodical the Journal of Individual Psychology– much to the satisfaction of Adlerians outside the USA. Under his editorship, it maintained high academic standards and was devoted to “a holistic, phenomenological, teleological, field theoretical, and socially oriented approach to psychology and related fields” endeavoring to “continue the tradition of Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology.”

In 1974, Raymond Corsini, Ph.D. succeeded Dr. Ansbacher as editor. In 1976, Guy J. Manaster became editor of the Journal. In 1982, the Journal became a quarterly with Guy J. Manaster and Jon Carlson as editors. They edited the Journal until 1995 when Gerald J. Mozdzierz and James Robert Bitter became editors. Roy M. Kern and William L. Curlette assumed the editorship in 1999.

The Growth of Individual Psychology

In Europe periodicals are published by Individual Psychology organizations in various countries. From 1962 on, Herbert Schaffer (1978) published the Bulletin of the Société Française de Psychologie Adlérienne in Paris. In 1973, the Rivista di Psicologia Individuale was founded by Prof. Francesco Parenti (1925-1990) together with other colleagues in Italy. Prof. Rudolf Kausen (1920-1983) was the initiator of the Zeitschrift für Individuapsychologie which has been published in German since 1976. The Individual Psychology Newsletter (IPNL), founded in 1950 by Paul Rom (1982) in London, became the official organ of International Association of Individual Psychology (IAIP) and served as a link between Adlerians groups and friends the world over. After Paul Rom’s death in 1984, Horst Gröner took charge of editing (later assisted by Colin R. Brett) until 1990. Both of them published the IPNL again, in Gotha, Germany, from 1993 to 1996. Since 2000, Jane Manaster has taken over the task of again establishing the IPNL as a circular of the IAIP.

Besides various series of pamphlets published between the two World Wars, the two volumes of the Handbuch für Individualpsychologie (München, 1926) edited by Erwin Wexberg (1881-1957) were important milestones in the growth of Individual Psychology. They served a purpose similar to the earlier works of Adler and others whose publication of a volume of papers in 1913 had given Individual Psychology an identity as a new school of thought. In recent years, similar collections of papers and essays have been published in Europe and America.

The Beginnings of International Congresses

Having surveyed the history of the journals of the school of Individual Psychology and some significant publications, let us now look at the history of international congresses. The first Congress took place in Munich December 8-10, 1922, under the title of Kongress der Internationalen Gesellschaft für Vergleichende Individualpsychologie. There was a modest meeting in Salzburg in 1924, when Adlerians from Vienna, Munich, Dresden and Nürnberg assembled. They received a written invitation from their Berlin colleagues to hold the 2nd International Congress. It took place in 1925, and was followed by congresses in Düsseldorf (1926) and Vienna (1927). The 5th International Congress met in Berlin in 1930 with over 1000 participants and was, in every respect, an impressive event.

After World War II, several groups were revived and new ones founded making it possible to hold the 6th International Congress for Individual Psychology in 1954 at Zurich. This was followed by a Delegates’ Meeting which replaced the rather informal International Society of Individual Psychology with the present International Association of Individual Psychology. Dr Alexander Müller (+ 1968) became its first Secretary. In 1957, the 7th Congress meeting in Holland elected Dr. Victor Louis (+ 1991) to replace Dr. Müller who had resigned. Dr. Louis was re-elected as Secretary General by the 8th Congress which met in Vienna in August, 1960. This Congress proved Individual Psychology to be a spiritual and organized power of no small importance.

During all these years, Dr. Alexandra Adler (1901-2001) was President of the International Association and the Delegate’s Meeting elected men and women of different countries to serve on its Council. The 9th International Congress was held in Paris in 1963, and Dr. Kurt Adler was elected President to succeed his sister Alexandra who was made Honorary President. Dr. Knut Baumgärtel (1992) was elected Secretary General. Both were re-elected to the same offices during the 10th International Congress held in Salzburg in 1966.

The 11th International Congress was held in New York City in 1970, and it was timed to coincide with the celebration of Alfred Adler’s centenary. Dr. Bernhard Shulman was elected to be the new President and Dr. Marvin Nelson became the Secretary General. The Società Italiana di Psicologia Individuale, a new society, was host to the 12th International Congress which met in Milan, Italy in 1973. Dr. Shulman and Dr. Nelson were re-elected to be President and Secretary General respectively. In a fine demonstration of the spirit of cooperation, this Congress, through the newly elected Council, agreed to sponsor and cooperate with the International Committee for Adlerians Summer Schools and Institutes (ICASSI) which was founded by Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs in 1962.

Interest in Congresses Rises

When the 13th Congress of the IAIP convened in Munich July 29, 1976, the rapid growth of interest in Adler’s psychology was apparent. The Kongresshalle was filled to capacity during most of the sessions. While the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Individualpsychologie provided the largest number of attendants, there were participants present from many countries. Communication was facilitated by simultaneous translations in four languages. The Delegates’ Congress re-elected Dr. Shulman as President and Dr. Nelson as Secretary General.

In his study of Man, Science and Society, Floyd M. Watson stated: “Despite the charges of superficiality always hurled at him by Freudians, the influence of Adler upon psychoanalysis and psychology in general seems in retrospect to have been scarcely less extensive than that of Freud himself. The lonely course he embarked upon in 1910 has either anticipated or encouraged such vigorous developments as neo-Freudianism (or “neo-Adlerianism”), psychoanalytic ego psychology, client-centered therapy, existentialist psychology and contemporary personality theory. From the perspective of our own day, it might even be argued (with conscious heresy) that it was the turn taken by Adler some fifty years ago which has come to be the “mainstream of the psychoanalytic movement and that taken by Freud which been in fact the ‘deviation.”

The 14th Congress: Zurich

The 14th Congress was held in Zurich, August 10-13, 1979, under the able leadership of Dr. Victor Louis with the able assistance of members of the Swiss Society of Individual Psychology. Bernhard Shulman was reelected to his fourth term as President, and Harold V. McAbee (1993) was elected as Secretary-General to replace Marvin Nelson who had served nine years and resigned.

The 15th Congress: Vienna

The 15th Congress was held in Vienna, August 2-6, 1982, under the auspices of the Austrian Individual Psychology Association, Walter Spiel President. Anton Reinelt served as Congress Organizer. The theme of the Congress –The Encounter of Individual Psychology with other Psychologies– proved to be an exciting challenge and attracted many outstanding speakers. Viktor Frankl, Rudolf Ekstein, Manes Sperber, and Erwin Ringel were among the renowned presenters. The various presentations proved to be most stimulating. These were augmented by exhibits, films, and videotapes. The Congress program came to the theoretical grips between Individual Psychology and other schools.

Walter Spiel was elected President, with Bernhard Shulman retiring after 12 years of service. President Spiel offered an initiative to the Council of appointing three committees to pursue the work of the IAIP in the period between triennial congresses. The three committees were: the Scientific Committee, Committee on Education and Training, and a Committee on Organization. The Committees were charged with specific tasks and asked to report to the Council and Delegates Congress at the 16th International Congress.

The 16th International Congress: Canada

The 16th International Congress was held in Montreal, Canada, July 7-11, 1985. Secretary-General Harold V. McAbee served as Congress Organizer. Frank and Liliane Bensinger, leaders of the Alfred Adler Institute of Quebec, served ably as local chairpersons. Theme of the congress was the “Future of Individual Psychology.” The congress was a financial success. Several changes were made in the Constitution. A third Vice-President was added, an Assistant Secretary-General, and an Assistant Treasurer. The committee structure, initiated by President Spiel, was continued on a permanent basis and the constitution was amended to reflect these changes. Walter Spiel was re-elected President. A highlight of the 16th International Congress was a reception honoring the Honorary Presidents Alexandra Adler and Heinz Ansbacher. Kurt Adler was similarly honored by acclamation of the Delegates Congress to Honorary President. In a gracious acceptance, Dr. Adler quoted a lyric from a Meistersingers aria by Hans Sachs: “You make it easy for yourself, but difficult for me if you give me, poor one, so much honor.”

The 17th International Congress: West Germany

The 17th International Congress was held July 12-16, 1987 at the University of Munster, West Germany. Theme of the Congress was “Fifty Years After the Death of Alfred Adler– Individual Psychology in the Reality of Our Time.” The Congress, which was attended by almost 800 participants, was held by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Individualpsychologie under the general direction of Rainer Schmidt, Chairperson and Horst Gröner, Congress Organizer. Both the scientific and social programs were outstanding during the five day program.

The three Commissions matured in their functioning. The Commission on Education and Training, Bernhard Shulman, Chairperson, reported plans for certificate programs designating levels of competency for individuals practicing psychotherapy, counseling, and/or education programs. Discussion in the Scientific Commission was spirited as members strove for common understanding of principles of Individual Psychology. Two new members were approved by the Delegates Congress. These were the Ausbildungszentrum für Individualpsychologische Psychotherapie (AZIP) in Zurich and the Istituto Alfred Adler di Psicologia Individuale di Torino. Proposals were made to initiate planning for an International Journal and a permanent secretariat.

18th International Congress: Albano

At the 18th International Congress, which took place from July 29 to August 2, 1990, in Abano, it was decided to publish the International Journal of Individual Psychology and Comparative Studies as a trial. However, due to insurmountable difficulties as far as the organization was concerned, the publication had to be discontinued again as early as edition No.1 (1991). Francesco Parenti from the Societa Italiana di Psicologia Individuale conducted that Congress; shortly afterwards he died in a car accident. Donatella Zavalloni served as Congress Organizer. Thanks to her there was a stimulating atmosphere so that there was an opportunity for cooperative talks.

As new members were approved by the Delegate’s Congress, the Alfred Adler Institute of Quebec in Montreal, as well as the Abano the Istituto di Psicologia Individuale A. Adler di Torino. The three Commissions continued their intensive work. Especially the Commission on Education and Training is still working on international standards on a minimum for the different kinds of training programs. Harold V. McAbee was elected President and Horst Gröner as Secretary-General.

19th International Congress: Budapest

After Harold V. McAbee had died in May 1993, Rainer Schmidt took over the leadership of the IAIP as 1st Vice President until Prof. Gian Giacomo Rovera from Torino was elected President at the 19th International Congress in Budapest (August 1-5, 1993). Horst Gröner was confirmed in his office as Secretary-General. From then on, The Adlerian Society of British Columbia, Vancouver, The Hungarian Society of Individual Psychology, as well as the Alfred Adler Institutes of Aachen-Köln und München, belonged to the new members while the membership of the AZIP in Zurich was revoked.

Several projects were passed by the Delegates Congress, among others preparatory work for an international dictionary of Individual Psychology, the assistance for young societies for Individual Psychology (above all in Central and East Europe), and the foundation of an Ad hoc Committee to change the constitution of the IAIP as well as a committee that is to prepare the 20th International Congress in Oxford, U.K. Time and again, we felt there was a desire to intensify the communication within the IAIP and to further concretize the objectives of its work.

At the 19th International Congress, presided by Dr. Otto Arato (1999) from Budapest, more than 320 participants came together. In various panel meetings and many further speeches, people exchanged scientific knowledge. Thus, this congress set a general mark for the organization of the further international meetings.

The 20th International Congress: Oxford, U.K.

The 20th International Congress, from August 4-8, 1996, in Oxford, U.K., and under the topic of “To preserve and to change Individual Psychology in a network of recent developments,” scientifically, it was a great success. But financially it became a great disaster to the IAIP due to less than 230 participants. The Delegate’s Assembly, which acted according to the new constitution, decided on extraordinary payments of the member organizations to cover the loss. The five sections (Business & Organizations; Counseling; Education; Science: Theory & Research; Therapy) started to establish by-laws and guidelines for their work. Prof. Gian Giacomo Rovera as President and Horst Gröner as Secretary-General again were confirmed in office.

The 21st International Congress: Oak Brook/Chicago, IL

In 1999, when the 21st International Congress was held in Oak Brook/Chicago, IL, from August 4-7, the main topic “The science of living: Tasks, contributions & solutions,” gathered about 180 participants. Although enormously supported by the Adler School of Professional Psychology from Chicago, IAIP again had to bear another immense financial burden. An outstanding donation from the Japanese Society of Individual Psychology helped to recover from that situation and to enable IAIP to continue on substantial work. The Lëtzebuerger Gesellschaft für Individualpsychologie nom Alfred Adler A.s.b.l. (LGIPA) became a new member to the IAIP. Prof. Guy Manaster from Austin, TX, was elected President, Horst Gröner again re-elected in his office as Secretary-General.

The 22nd International Congress: München, Germany

In 2002, the 22nd International Congress was held in München, Germany, from August 4-10. 80+ years ago in this town, the 1st International Congress was held, which happened in 1922. The main topic of the congress was “Self and society– development, process and quality.” The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Individualpsychologie (DGIP) acted as organizer. About 300 participants attended, coming from 17 different Countries. During the Congress, the Lithuanian Association of Individual Psychology was accepted as a new member. Prof. Guy Manaster from Austin, Texas, was re-elected as President and Dr. Giansecondo Mazzoli from Reggio Emilia, Italy, was elected General Secretary. The position of Treasurer was held by Horst Gröner from Gotha, Germany.

The 23rd International Congress: Torino, Italy

The Council of IAIP then decided to hold the 23rd International Congress from May 26-29, 2005, in Torino, Italy. The SIPI (Società Italiana di Psicologia Individuale), supported by Istituto A. Adler and SAIGA (both IAIP members, Torino), acted as Congress organizers. The topic of the Congress was “Power and Cultural Living.” More than 500 participants attended the four days of Congress hosted in the “Centro Congressi.” The participants came from more than 20 countries across the world.

The 24th International Congress: Lithuania

In 2008, the University of Vilnius (Lithuania) hosted the XIV IAIP International Congress. The theme was “Tenderness and Aggressiveness: The Challenge of Our Times.” More than 300 colleagues gathered together from more than 20 countries across the world to discuss the implication of the theme across various cultures. The theme was inspired by an essay that Adler wrote one hundred years earlier on the importance of tenderness in the development of personality, as well as the relationship between human beings. The IAIP Board and the Lithuanian Adlerian colleagues felt it was important to offer Adlerians the chance to consider how to manage the aggressive forces present in human nature in today’s societies from an Adlerian perspective.

The excellent work of the Lithuanian team that organized the Congress was well recognized in their choice of the location of the University of Vilnius- the structure of the program- and the social events that offered a good opportunity for Adlerian colleagues to meet each other and discuss important topics and strengthen personal and professional relationships.

The 25th International Congress: Vienna

In 2011, the site of the International Congress was Wien. It was the occasion of celebrating the anniversary of the foundation of Individual Psychology in 1911, when Adler separated from the Psychoanalytic movement and founded his new psychological system. The theme of the Congress was “Separation–Trauma–Development”. The theme intended to offer room for reflecting on the development of Adlerian theory that came out from a separation from the psychoanalytic root. The theme was chosen by IAIP and the Austrian colleagues for the actuality of the question of trauma on the individual and social levels. The way Adlerian psychologists can help individuals, organizations, and societies manage the consequences of trauma was discussed in the four congress days. Two important events happened during the period of the congress:

  1. a) The ashes of Alfred Adler from Edinburgh, where he passed away in 1937, reached Wien and are now in the main Cemetery of Wien;
  2. b) The IAIP registered officially as an International Association in Wien. This is an historical achievement: one hundred years after the birth of Individual Psychology Adler’s effort to have an official and recognized Association is now reality.

The 26th International Congress: Paris

The SFPA (Société Française de Psychanalyse Adlérienne) was happy to welcome this international 26th congress, with the support of the IAIP, for the second time. The first congress was held in Paris in 1966. The 2014 Congress in Paris took place July 10 to 14 and brought together more than 200 participants.

The theme “Precarities, Conflicts, Violence: A Challenge for Healing and Training”, was chosen by the IAIP in reference to Alfred Adler’s book “Healing and Training”, and in resonance with the topicality of the issues of our society.

The interventions during the Special Lecture have allowed expert analyses of different situations of conflict and violence: inequalities in the treatment of women with Sarah Manta, Regional Delegate for Women’s Rights and Equality, and Dominique de Suremain, Project Director of “Gender and Women’s Rights”, Member of the National Observatory of parity (services of the Prime Minister). The problems of violence among adolescents were discussed with M.Fize, a renowned sociologist, an expert in adolescence and the family, researcher at the CNRS (French Ethnology Centre), and PH. Grosbois, Doctor of psychology, anthropologist, lecturer at the Institute of psychology and applied sociology, Catholic University of the West, Angers.

At the end of the congress, the Delegate Assembly re-elected Wilfried Datler as the President, Becky LaFountain as a Vice President, Horst Groner as a Treasurer, and Giansecondo Mazzoli as a General Secretary.

The 27th International Congress: St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Adler Graduate School hosted the 27th Congress of the International Association of Individual Psychology on July 10-13, 2017, at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. The Congress theme was “Inferiority Feelings: New Manifestations and New Approaches.” Pre-Congress and a Special event were included in the program. The 27th IAIP Congress attendees were immersed in a stimulating, growth-oriented international dialogue focused on Individual Psychology and its contemporary applications.

The 28th International Congress: L’viv, Ukraine (held online)

The 28th Congress was organized by the Ukrainian Association of Individual Psychology and held from July 11 to July 14, 2021. The theme of the 28th Congress was The Challenges of the Global World: healing and Growth. The congress was unique in a way that it was held during the Pandemic, had to be rescheduled from 2020, and ultimately was held online. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian organizers demonstrated courage and optimism in facing all the challenges, and the congress had 241 participants from 21 country. During the Delegate Assembly, that was also held online, several new organizations were accepted as members: Taiwanese Adlerian Society, Korean Adlerian Psychology Association Korea, Slovak Association of Individual Psychology – SAIP Slovakia, and School of Individual Psychology and Counseling of Lviv Psychoanalytic Institute and Mental Health Ukraine

This essay was written by Paul Rom for the Directory of the IAIP. After his death in 1982, subsequent material was prepared by Harold V. McAbee and amended and revised by Horst Gröner since 1990, by Giansecondo Mazzoli since 2002, by Marina Bluvshtein in 2022.