Sample Psychology Essay Paper on Adler Safeguarding Tendencies

Adler Safeguarding Tendencies

Self-esteem is an important personal attribute whose measure provides crucial information relating to character traits of an individual. Consequently, the psychological nature of human beings ensures that an individual’s self-esteem is protected from any threats. Adler discusses a set of safeguarding tendencies which describe a normal human reaction to any external threat that is directed towards one’s self-esteem. When keenly perceived, Adler’s argument on safeguarding tendencies are similar to Freudian defense mechanisms despite a number of imminent differences. According to his analysis, however, safeguarding tendencies include excuses, aggression and withdrawal as mechanisms of countering threats against a person’s self-esteem.

Adler considers excuses as part of a self-protection mechanism which shields one’s self-esteem from embarrassment. Excuses are effective in situations where one’s personal image is threatened by public judgment. It is common to find individuals with numerous excuses whenever there is a disappointment or failure (Clark, 2016). Excuses are issued to protect one’s personal image by providing counter information that contradicts an action that places one in a highly judgmental environment. For instance, high school students come up with reasons – in form of excuses – which justify why an assignment was not done. This is done to protect one’s self-esteem of an individual from punishment or a disciplinary measure.

There are some individuals who use aggression as a form of safeguarding one’s self-esteem from embarrassment or punishment. Aggression includes any action that directly confronts an opposing action directed towards the latter’s self-esteem. This action could include violence or verbal attack that results in confrontation, argument or fight (Gaube & Kern, 2015). Aggression is effective in situations where a threat exceed an individual’s capacity to hold in more embarrassment. As a mitigation measure, an individual reacts by being aggressive which results in high tension that can erupt into a physical encounter. Adler notes that aggression is common among individuals whose capacity and self-defense ability is based on physical (and not) mental strength.

Lastly, there are individuals who use withdrawal as a measure of addressing self-embarrassing situations. Withdrawal, in this perspective, involves any proactive action from an individual who is avoiding a discussion that might end up as a threat to their self-esteem. Withdrawal is an important tool of self-defense for individuals who are physically weak but mentally intelligent. Individuals who use withdrawal mechanism – with regards to this discussion – tend to be proactive in nature when addressing conflicts (Clark, 2016). Consequently, most of their personality attributes are liberal in nature and avoids extreme events that might transform a conflict into a physical encounter. Moreover, Adler notes that withdrawal is a safeguarding tendency whose merits and benefits are progressive in nature.  

Adler provides significant safeguarding tendencies that describe personality attributes of people in different environments. For instance, his framework provides a rationale for gauging personal anger of an individual when their self-esteem is facing a threat. Excuses describe individuals whose self-defense mechanism is based on protecting one’s personal image. This is a crucial way (use of excuses) which ensures that a personal image of an individual is positive from any embarrassing situation. However, aggression introduces an element of physical strength in resolving a similar situation. This is a safeguarding tendency which ensures that a person’s self-esteem is protected from any external threat through intimidation and bullying. Withdrawal, as noted by Adler, describes a self-defense mechanism in which an individual avoids extreme outcomes of an event that threatens their self-esteem.


Clark, A. J. (2016). Empathy and Alfred Adler: An Integral Perspective. The Journal of             Individual Psychology, 72(4), 237-253.

Gaube, J., & Kern, R. M. (2015). IMPORTANCE OF ADLERIAN LIFESTYLE             PERSONALITY ATTRIBUTES FOR BODY MASS INDEX AMONG WOMAN.             European Scientific Journal, ESJ, 11(2).