Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology in Light of Classical Persian Literature
This paper aims to present a tentative analysis of the possible commonalities and differences between Adlerian individual psychology and classical Persian literary texts of the pre-modern period written by mystics Abu Saeed Abu al-Khair, Jami, Saadi, and Rumi. The authors put forward the suggestion that modern psychological approaches, especially those dealing with education of children, might be rooted in the teachings of Iranian mystics. In mysticism and classical Iranian literature, like in Adlerian psychology, much attention is given to human nature in its entirety and personality development. The analysis focuses on such core aspects of Adler’s theory as the feeling of inferiority and the striving for recognition, the influence of family and social environment on personality development and lifestyle. It is shown that, like Adler’s individual psychology, classical Persian texts stress the importance of the social aspect in the child’s development but while Adler believed in the freedom of choice and people’s creative power to change their personality structure (lifestyle), the classical Iranian authors emphasized the existence of a certain “true nature” that cannot be influenced by education or social environment. These findings can inspire future research into the possible connections between the holistic personality theories in modern psychology and the philosophical thought in classical Persian literature.
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