Coffee With Alfred • Part Two


I’d probably block out two hours for coffee with Alfred, if he was willing and had the time. His calendar would no doubt be full.

We have no less problems now than they had back then. Maybe more? I wonder how many parenting questions he would have been asked by desperate parents.

I would truly be interested in his studies, and I would have loved to observe alongside him. Watch him work and ask questions.

In the days before our Kavarna meet-up, here are the thoughts and questions I might jot in my phone in a note entitled “Coffee With Al”:

  • Tell me about one of your most interesting children. (I would no doubt have further questions about family background on this case.)
  • Have you ever wondered if there’s a deeper origin to some of this stuff you’ve observed?
  • Are you doing any counseling or therapy with any of the families?
  • You wrote on page 67, “This feeling of inferiority is the driving force, the starting point from which every childish striving originates. It determines how individual children acquire peace and security in life, it determines the very goal of their existence.” In my work with people I’ve noticed the same thing…their home life does really affect them. But do you think it’s really that deterministic?
  • Do you believe there’s a God? (He must have because he does mention God-playing in his book. I wonder how he viewed God.)
  • You wrote, “The first thing we can discover about ourselves is that we are always striving towards a goal. We cannot, therefore, imagine the human spirit as a single, static entity.” Where do you think all that drive came from?

The time spent talking over a white mocha would probably be enjoyable, at least for me, if neither of us felt rushed.

Again, I must be completely honest, I might have some further hard questions on family and counseling topics.

Adler actually “happened” upon something very specific by observation but he wasn’t able to label it correctly.

Look what he wrote. Remember, he spent years studying children:

  • “Like adults, children want to surpass their rivals. They strain for superiority…” (32).
  • “…We will see strenuous evasions and complicated excuses, which serve only to emphasize their underlying thirst for glory” (32).
  • “To dominate those around them becomes their chief purpose in life…” (40).
  • Speaking of children who face obstacles in life he writes, “They demand an extraordinary amount of attention, and of course they think far more of themselves than of others” (42).
  • “The fantasies of children almost always involve situations in which the child exercises power” (57).
  • He wrote about, “the tendency to push oneself into the limelight” (68).
  • “Eventually, every natural feeling or expression of the child carries with it a hypocritical element with the final aim of the subjugation of their environment” (70).

These make me smile.

If you have experience with children, and you don’t have an overly-romanticized view of children, didn’t the corners of your lips break into an ah-yes-wry-smile as you read the bullet points?

ASIDE: I love kids. I have three of my own and I miss those kindergarten and grade school years…a lot. Why did they have to grow up so fast? (By the way, not everything children do is bad.)

Alright, what’s going on here? Is Al being unkind? Is he angry and bitter?

No.

He really did observe some ugly stuff…repeatedly.

Isn’t there something deeper going on here? What is it?

And how can deeper understanding help those seeking counseling or therapy?