I was dismayed by the tone and content of Don Nathanson's response (1/18/97) to Henry Stein (1/14/97). I wonder what has triggered such a caustic and aggressive response, which included major distortions of what Henry said, without answering the very important questions that Henry directly raised.
Henry and Don obviously disagree on how to think about the client, the course of treatment, and probably on what constitutes a successful case outcome. Nevertheless, I thought the purpose of this forum was to air these disagreements and to discuss them in a respectful way so that the differences among approaches are at least clear to the forum's readers, so that they do not have to go elsewhere to find clarification.
In addition to Don's reaction to Henry's critique of his work, Don appears to want to discredit Adlerian psychology and, with his allusion to "the other end of the century," treat it as a museum relic. A number of scholars (see Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious) have described Adler's ideas as way ahead of their time.
Yes, Adler's first work was dated 1897 and discussed prevention of disease in the tailor trade. And it has only been in the last 20 years or so that we are catching up to his ideas about prevention. Between 1897 and 1937, Adler wrote about many ideas current in psychology today (e.g., the important of biological factors, the necessity of examining the person in the social context -- including family and cultural factors, and the social construction of meaning). Classical Adlerian psychology since then has built on these ideas and today is very much alive and growing.
One issue that Don raised that I would like to respond to in more detail is his assumption that Socratic questioning automatically puts the client in an inferior position. Neither Adler -- nor Henry -- used Socratic questioning for this purpose. In contrast to the other psychoanalysts of his day, Adler wrote about and practiced therapy as a cooperation between the therapist and client as equals. Indeed, he suffered the wrath of his colleagues when he treated his patients face to face (rather than lying on the analyst's couch) and included them in the informal discussions about the fledgling field of psychology in the coffeehouses of Vienna. Adler took equality much further than the situation of the single client and therapist. In his own words (from 1925): "Individual Psychology aims at serving the community rather than forging new arms for a cast of scholars. As it intends to reinforce the contact among fellow men, it must become common property. As it intends to eradicate neurosis and raise self esteem of the individual and society, it must hand over all its knowledge and skills to the community... It will never do to permit less knowledge to the teacher, the parents, the patient, than to the physician or the philosopher."
I hope that the dialogue between professionals with different ideas about human behavior and its therapeutic treatment can be continued in a respectful manner.