Toward a Definition of Self-Esteem
Adler's individual psychology is in essence a psychology of self-esteem, as all its concepts are concerned with the development of self-esteem and its impact on the emergence of the adjusted or maladjusted personality. While self-esteem psychology has become popularized and is the focus of many research projects in psychology, sociology, and social work, it is ironic that the term "self-esteem" is not very definitive in the literature. Measurements of Social Psychological Attitudes ( Robinson and Shaver, 1973) lists about 30 major tests of self-esteem. The various researchers contributing to the yearbook use different terminology and fail to find common ground, because they tend to deal with only isolated components of self-esteem. Psychologists have constructed various tests that purport to measure selfesteem, sometimes referring to it as self-concept, social concept, ego strength, and various other terms. Failure to understand the phenomenon stems from a lack of functional integration of these various isolated components. The purpose of this book is to provide an integrated synthesis of the unidimensional constructs that we believe determine the parameters of the multidimensional organization of self-esteem. To approach such a task we have presented operational, nominal, and real definitions of the concept of self-esteem. These definitions begin to illustrate the importance of self-esteem in understanding normal and aberrant behavior, and lay the groundwork to delineate a method for the psychotherapeutic management of self-esteem.
Adler coined the term "individual psychology," referring to what is really a self-esteem theory of behavior. Self-esteem, he argued, is the basic motivating force of behavior; the goal of the individual is to build, or at