What is the Family Constellation
Regarding the positionÂ of each childÂ withinÂ the family structure, Adler prescribed neglect and pampering as principal factors predisposing an inferiority complex. Neglected children may suffer a childhood full of humiliation, experiencing neither the security afforded by unconditional love, nor the satisfaction deriving from co-operation. Pampered children, meanwhile, may be denied the opportunity to develop courage and self-reliance, and grow up expecting others to respond to their self-centred wishes.Â Adler believed pampering to be the greatest curse of all.
Tracing the potential legacies of birth order, the only child, prone to pampering, may exhibit an alarming admixture of overdependentÂ and yet tyrannical traits. The oldest child, after playing the role of the only child for a few formative years, is then deposed and, relatively speaking, neglected. Adler believed a high proportion of societal “misfits” to be oldest children. The youngest child, on the other hand, may remain the perpetual baby, constantly looking to others for help. OptimalÂ adjustmentÂ isÂ evinced, perhaps, by middle order children, although even they may display tendencies towards rebelliousness and envy in their ambitions to surpass older siblings.
Additional familial factors implicated by Adler to exaggerate inferiority include marital disharmony, domineering parents, excessive demands upon children, and inconsistent or severeÂ discipline.