I am not a Democrat or a Republican.  In fact, I dislike politics.  I am an Adlerian.  Therefore, I look at the current actions in our country through the Adlerian lens and I am very concerned.  As Adlerians, we see everyone as having worth and being worthy of respect.  We believe that we must respect others who have a difference of opinion and work together to find solutions. 

Adlerians talk about the vertical and horizontal planes.  On the vertical plane we feel inferior and, in our desire, to overcome these feelings we strive to be superior to others.  The horizontal plane is where we need to be.  On this plane, we recognize our own value and worth and the worth of all others as our social equals.  We recognize that we have differing views.  However, we respect one another, and we work collaboratively to find solutions.

What I am seeing right now is not Democrat vs Republican, but those on the vertical plane vs those on the horizontal plane.  When people are told that they cannot give their opinion it demonstrates a belief that some are superior to others and that those others are not worthy to have an opinion.

I think that differences of opinion are a good thing.  When we hear all opinions so that we can do some critical thinking, we come up with the best solutions.  Adler said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  What he was suggesting is that individually we can reach decisions but when we hear all opinions, we get the best solutions.

It is time for Adlerians to speak up.  Do we want our children to believe that some are superior to others and only their opinions have value?  When kids in college must seek counseling because they have heard something that is counter to their opinion, I am very concerned.  They truly believe that they can’t handle hearing a view that differs from their own.

I think that our country is in big trouble.  When free speech is challenged it is only a matter of time before YOU are no longer allowed to have an opinion.  We need to celebrate differences.  We need to hear different opinions and consider the views of others.  Then we need to make decisions that are best for all concerned to bring about peace, prosperity, health and safety for all.

Those on the vertical plane will accuse me of being political.  I ask you to return to the roots of Adlerian psychology philosophy.  Ask yourself, “How would the people of this country be behaving if they are on the horizontal plane?”.

— Susan Pye Brokaw, LMFT

Susan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in practice for more than 40 years. She is a founder and past faculty of the Adler Graduate School in Minnesota.