R. J. Huber


ADLERIAN THEORY AND
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A Ifred Adler felt that observations of the great writers were invaluable assets to the contemporary psychologist, and, in particular, he found the Bible, Goethe, and Shakespeare extremely helpful in his understanding of human nature. 1 He also engaged in literary interpretation through his comments on the works of Alfred Berger, Dostoevsky, and the diary of the Russian ballet great, Nijinsky. 2 Contemporary Adlerians have shown a sustained interest in literary analysis in articles over the past several years that have appeared in their principle English language journal, The Journal of Individual Psychology. 3 In a recent book Leon Edel has stressed the cogency of Adlerian psychology to understanding literature. 4 The compatibility between literature and Adlerian psychology exists because the writer and the Adlerian psychologist are about the same task, as Phyllis Bottome, a novelist and one of Adler's biographers, states: "Not what happens to people, but how people take what happens to them has always been the chief part of the novelist's task to reveal." 5 The Adlerian psychologist, similarly, is most interested in how one interprets his or her environment. The world view of the individual is a proper beginning for a discussion of Adlerian literary analysis; however, before this topic can be pursued it is necessary to paint a miniature sketch of Adlerian theory.

While it is true that Adler was a member of the original Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, one should not regard him as a disciple of Freud.There is a great deal of evidence indicating that Adler's ideas differed significantly from those of Freud before the two men were acquainted. In his first publication Adler emphasized social factors in the occupational diseases of tailors; this emphasis dominated his thought before, during, and after his association with Freud. 6 It is this difference and others that nurtured the split of Adler from Freud in 1911 because Freud insisted on orthodoxy of thought. In 1911 Adler and his co-workers founded the school of Individual Psychology, which adhered to principles that are the cornerstones of

____________________
From Psychological Perspectives on Literature: Freudian Dissidents and Non-Freudians, a Casebook, edited by Joseph Natoli ( Hamden, CT: Archon, 1984), pp. 43-52.

-144-

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Holden Caulfield
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Major Literary Characters *
  • Holden Caulfield *
  • Contents *
  • The Analysis of Character ix
  • Editor's Note xv
  • Introduction i
  • Critical Extracts 5
  • Critical Essays 41
  • The Language of the Catcher in the Rye 41
  • Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield: the Situation of the Hero 50
  • On J. D. Salinger's Novel 58
  • The Saint as a Young Man 64
  • Character and Detail in the Catcher in the Rye 74
  • Allie and Phoebe 80
  • The Catcher in the Rye 87
  • "Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything" 105
  • Against Obscenity 114
  • In Memoriam: Allie Caulfield 132
  • Adlerian Theory and the Catcher in the Rye 144
  • Holden and the Cold War 153
  • Contributors 166
  • Bibliography 169
  • Acknowledgments 173
  • Index 177
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