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Colby, K.M. (1951). On the Disagreement between Freud and Adler. Am. Imago, 8(3):229-238.

(1951). American Imago, 8(3):229-238

On the Disagreement between Freud and Adler

Kenneth Mark Colby, M.D.

That Freud and Adler were at one time colleagues who parted ways is well known. The partisan emotions aroused by their disagreement still echo. Indeed, feelings have obscured the facts to a degree that today few are acquainted with the setting of the dispute or the precise content of the scientific differences which led to a permanent break between the two men.

Freud1 has given an account of Adler's secession from the psychoanalytic group along with a critique of his theories. A biography of Adler by Bottome2 presents Adler's side and describes the relationship between them prior to the separation. According to Bottome an article appeared in Vienna's Neue Freie Presse ridiculing Freud's book, Die Traum-deutung. Adler, then unknown to Freud, wrote a reply in the same publication defending Freud's views. Freud sent Adler a postcard asking him to join the psychoanalytic discussion group. Bottome comments, “this postcard has a certain importance since it shows quite clearly that Adler was never a pupil of Freud's, as his opponents always claim, and never had a didactic analysis.”

Exactly when this occurred is not clear. At one point Bottome states that Adler had “joined the psychoanalysts in 1900.” Freud1 reports: “From the year 1902 onwards a number of young medical men gathered around me with the express intention of learning, practising, and spreading knowledge of psychoanalysis. The stimulus came from a colleague who had himself experienced the beneficial effect of analytic therapy.” Stekel3 says he was the stimulus who suggested the founding of a discussion group.

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