Adler saw birth order as one factor that influences the development of an individual’s lifestyle. Individuals operate in one of four birth order positions. They may be an only child, an oldest child, a middle child, or a youngest child. This order is assigned by the position the individual holds with in group of siblings that are seven years older or younger than himself. This order may be different from the actual biological birth order because siblings that are much older or younger do not interact as frequently and therefore have little influence on their development (Corey, 2009).
Family members, according to Adler strive to find a “superior” position within the family constellation. Each position within the birth order is seen as superior to the one held by the individual. For example, an oldest child believes that younger children have a better place in the family order. The youngest child sees the position of the older children as being more desirable. A middle child sees the position of both older children and younger children as superior to theirs (Corey, 2009).
Adler saw the quest for superiority as a key motivating factor in the development of personality. The position occupied by an individual in the birth order impacts the individual’s worldview or lifestyle. The unique view one develops of self and others becomes part of the way in which the individual will perceive himself within other relationships and situations throughout life unless this view does not serve him well.
The early perceptions of children about their situations and relationships are often inaccurate or mistaken. Nonetheless, the individual will operate under the assumption that his perceptions are correct unless the life patterns developed from this worldview do not result in outcomes that are desirable (Murdock, 2013).
- Corey, G. (2009 ). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 8th Edition, Belmont, CA:Brooks.Cole.
- Murdock, N. (2013). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A case approach (3rd ed.).
- Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson./li>