Soul Metaphors: Contents


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Forward: The writing of Soul Metaphors and how I became an Alfred Adler fan

Greetings! When I was in my mid twenties, I happened across a deeply interesting school of thought. While working for the United Nations in Vienna, Austria in the 1990s, I met Conrad Kaplan, an Adlerian scholar who had moved to Vienna from the United States to interview some of Adler's last living patients. Conrad had been analyzed in the Adlerian style by an Austrian expatriate in Berkeley, California who was, herself, one of the last living students of Alfred Adler.

In 1993, Conrad analyzed my early memories, and his interpretation and insights rocked my world. After giving matters some thought, I soon made major changes in my work life and my personal life. I also began to study Adler in depth: I read his books in English and in German (my German unfortunately, is now long forgotten); I analyzed the early memories of friends and family, as well as of famous people from autobiographies; I debated and discussed Adler with Conrad, soaking up his many anecdotes; and, ultimately, I flew to California to meet with Conrad's teacher, Edith Foster, and learn from her about the Adlerian movement in its heyday, as well as to discuss Adlerian early memory interpretation and its applications.

Edith had left Austria in 1937 and had lived in Sweden, Mexico, Australia and the United States. When I visited her in her California home in the late 1990's, I found a bright and charming woman -- not only warm and sharing, but also a staunch individualist. As a teenager, for several years she had regularly attended the Monday evening lectures of the Society for Individual Psychology led by Adler, and she had later studied under Lydia Sicher. We corresponded over the years, and eventually I stopped hearing from her. Her husband feels that as she aged and grew weaker it probably became more difficult for her to maintain a correspondence.

The book that accompanies this website, Soul Metaphors, is meant not only as a guide to early memory interpretation, but also as an introduction to Adlerian theory. While I have tried to make it as accessible as possible, I have deliberately chosen not to oversimplify. Although Soul Metaphors can prove very useful as a self-help manual, it is also intended for scholars and for practitioners who wish to commit some additional effort to understanding Individual Psychology.

Finally, while I describe myself as an "unabashed" fan of Alfred Adler, I must add that there are elements of Adlerian thought that I find anachronistic and even offensive. Like so many people of his age, for example, Adler considered homosexuality to be a form of deviancy. I disagree. He also considered people who commit suicide to be "failures." Again, I disagree. There are other areas where I disagree, as well, but I basically remain a big fan. And, the title for this website was chosen both in fun and to be memorable!

A bit about my academic and personal background: The value of formal education was always very much emphasized in my family, and I received my B.A. in psychology from Wellesley College and my M.A. in international relations from Johns Hopkins University SAIS. Although I currently reside in Washington, D.C., I have lived overseas for 13 years and have worked and studied in six foreign languages. It is my passion to interact with people of different cultures and to learn from one another.

Enough said. I hope you enjoy this site and its book, and even find it useful. I offer these exercizes and ideas to the Adlerian and broader communities for free, just as my teachers offered Adler's technique so generously to me. If you do enjoy this site, I hope you will let others know about it -- clinicians, patients, friends, parents, teachers, human resource specialists... Let's once again apply Individual Psychology in the exciting revolutionary strokes that Adler intended! The book, Soul Metaphors, is dedicated to Conrad. His own life was too short, but in his time on this earth he changed many lives for the better.

Ellen Alderton, Washington, D.C.