Alfred Adler Approach To Psychology To Scam Victims And How They Were Affected

A Psychology Approach that may be Beneficial for Scam Victim Recovery

•  SCARS Editorial Team – Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

Alfred Adler’s approach to psychology is considered to be a holistic approach or a psychological theory. It encompasses a comprehensive framework for understanding human behavior, personality development, and mental health.

While it incorporates various techniques and methods for therapeutic intervention, such as individual psychology and Adlerian therapy, it is primarily regarded as a theoretical approach that emphasizes the individual’s subjective experiences, social context, and pursuit of personal significance and belonging.

Adler’s approach to psychology focuses on the unity of the individual and their social environment, exploring the ways in which individuals strive for self-improvement, social connection, and a sense of purpose in life.

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Applying the Alfred Adler Approach to Psychology to Scam Victims and how they were affected Before, During, and After their Scams Ended, and Learning to Recover

Alfred Adler was an Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded the School of Individual Psychology.

His psychological theories emphasized the importance of social dynamics, the influence of childhood experiences, and the pursuit of significance or superiority in human behavior.

While it incorporates various techniques and methods for therapeutic intervention, such as individual psychology and Adlerian therapy, it is primarily regarded as a theoretical approach that emphasizes the individual’s subjective experiences, social context, and pursuit of personal significance and belonging.

Here are some Key Principles of Adlerian Psychology:

  1. Social Interest: Adler believed that humans are inherently social beings, and that social connections and relationships play a central role in shaping personality and behavior. He coined the term “social interest” to describe the innate desire to contribute to the welfare of others and to society as a whole.
  2. Inferiority and Superiority Complexes: Adler proposed that feelings of inferiority, stemming from early childhood experiences of weakness or inadequacy, are a driving force behind human behavior. Individuals strive to overcome these feelings by pursuing superiority or mastery in various areas of life. However, unhealthy attempts to achieve superiority can lead to what Adler called a “superiority complex,” characterized by arrogance, aggression, or a need for dominance.
  3. Birth Order: Adler believed that birth order within a family significantly influences personality development. He argued that firstborn children may feel dethroned when younger siblings are born, leading to a desire for power and control, while later-born children may strive for attention or recognition.
  4. Holism and Unity of Personality: Adler emphasized the holistic nature of personality, viewing individuals as unified beings whose thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected. He rejected the notion of psychological phenomena being isolated or compartmentalized, instead advocating for an understanding of the individual as a whole.
  5. Goal Orientation and Teleology: Adlerian psychology is teleological, meaning it focuses on future goals and purposes rather than past causes. Adler believed that individuals are motivated by their perceptions of future possibilities and strive to achieve a sense of significance or superiority in their lives.
  6. Encouragement and Self-Actualization: Adlerian therapy emphasizes the importance of encouragement and empowerment in facilitating personal growth and self-actualization. Therapists work collaboratively with clients to explore their strengths, overcome obstacles, and pursue their goals in life.

Overall, Adlerian psychology offers a holistic framework for understanding human behavior, emphasizing the significance of social connections, early childhood experiences, and the pursuit of meaningful goals in shaping personality and mental health. Adler’s ideas have influenced various fields, including psychotherapy, education, and organizational psychology, and continue to be relevant in contemporary psychological practice.

Relevance of Alfred Adler’s Psychology in Today’s World

Alfred Adler’s psychology, often referred to as Adlerian psychology or Individual Psychology, remains relevant and influential in contemporary psychology. While some of Adler’s specific theories and concepts have evolved and been integrated into broader psychological frameworks, his emphasis on individual uniqueness, social context, and the pursuit of meaning continues to resonate with modern practitioners and researchers. Here are a few reasons why Adlerian psychology is still considered contemporary and current:

  • Holistic Perspective: Adlerian psychology takes a holistic approach to understanding human behavior, considering the individual within the context of their social relationships, community, and culture. This holistic perspective aligns with contemporary models of psychology that emphasize the interconnectedness of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors in shaping human experience and behavior.
  • Focus on Subjective Experience: Adler placed a strong emphasis on understanding individuals’ subjective experiences, perceptions, and interpretations of the world. This focus on subjective experience aligns with contemporary approaches such as humanistic psychology, existential psychology, and positive psychology, which emphasize the importance of subjective well-being, personal growth, and meaning-making.
  • Empowerment and Agency: Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of empowerment, self-efficacy, and personal agency in promoting psychological well-being. These concepts are central to contemporary approaches such as strengths-based therapy, solution-focused therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, which aim to help individuals build resilience, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals.
  • Social Interest and Community Engagement: Adlerian psychology highlights the significance of social interest, community involvement, and social connections in fostering psychological health and well-being. These concepts are consistent with contemporary theories of social support, social capital, and community psychology, which emphasize the importance of social relationships and community resources in promoting resilience and thriving.
  • Relevance to Diverse Populations: Adlerian psychology is inclusive and applicable to individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and identities. Adler’s emphasis on understanding each person’s unique perspective and life story resonates with contemporary efforts to promote cultural humility, diversity, and inclusivity in psychology practice and research.

While Alfred Adler’s specific theories and concepts have evolved over time, the core principles of Adlerian psychology remain relevant and influential in contemporary psychology. The holistic perspective, focus on subjective experience, emphasis on empowerment and agency, recognition of the importance of social connections, and relevance to diverse populations continue to shape and inform modern approaches to understanding and promoting psychological well-being.

Applying it to Scam Victims

Alfred Adler’s psychology can be applied to helping scam victims recover from their relationship scam experience in several ways:

  • Encouraging Empowerment: Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of empowerment and self-efficacy in overcoming challenges. Therapists working with scam victims can help empower them by fostering a sense of agency and control over their lives. This may involve helping victims identify their strengths, set realistic goals, and take proactive steps toward rebuilding their lives.
  • Exploring Early Experiences and Beliefs: Adlerian therapy often focuses on exploring early childhood experiences and core beliefs that shape individuals’ perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Therapists can help scam victims examine how their past experiences and beliefs may have contributed to their vulnerability to the scam. By gaining insight into these underlying factors, victims can begin to challenge and reframe negative beliefs about themselves and their relationships.
  • Promoting Social Connection: Adler believed that social connections are essential for psychological well-being. Therapists can support scam victims in rebuilding their social networks and fostering supportive relationships with friends, family, and community members. Group therapy or support groups may also provide an opportunity for victims to connect with others who have experienced similar challenges and share their experiences in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Encouraging Lifestyle Changes: Adlerian therapy emphasizes the importance of lifestyle changes in promoting psychological health and well-being. Therapists can help scam victims identify areas of their lives where they may want to make positive changes, such as setting boundaries, managing finances, or pursuing new interests and hobbies. By taking proactive steps to improve their overall well-being, victims can regain a sense of control and agency in their lives.
  • Fostering Resilience and Growth: Adlerian therapy views challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Therapists can help scam victims reframe their experiences as valuable learning opportunities and identify strengths and resources that they can draw upon to overcome adversity. By fostering resilience and growth, victims can emerge from the scam experience with greater self-awareness, confidence, and resilience.

Alfred Adler’s psychology approach provides a comprehensive framework for helping scam victims recover from their relationship scam experience. By empowering victims, exploring underlying beliefs and experiences, promoting social connection, encouraging lifestyle changes, and fostering resilience and growth, therapists can support victims in rebuilding their lives and moving forward with strength and resilience.

Digging Deeper

Alfred Adler’s psychology provides valuable insights into the vulnerability of scam victims before, during, and after a relationship scam. Here’s how Adlerian principles may apply to each stage:

  1. Before the Scam:
    • Feelings of Inferiority: Many scam victims may experience feelings of inferiority or inadequacy before the scam begins. These feelings could stem from various sources, such as past experiences of rejection, loneliness, or financial struggles. Adlerian psychology suggests that individuals who feel inferior may be more susceptible to manipulation and exploitation by others who offer validation or support.
    • Desire for Connection: Adler emphasized the importance of social connections and belongingness in human behavior. Scam victims may be particularly vulnerable if they are seeking companionship, love, or acceptance. Scammers often exploit this desire for connection by creating false personas or romantic relationships to lure victims into their schemes.
    • Misguided Pursuit of Superiority: Some individuals may fall victim to scams due to a misguided pursuit of superiority or success. Adlerian psychology suggests that individuals who feel inadequate may seek validation or recognition through material possessions, status symbols, or relationships. Scammers may prey on these vulnerabilities by offering false promises of wealth, success, or love.
  2. During the Relationship Scam:
    • Manipulation of Inferiority: Scammers often manipulate their victims by exploiting feelings of inferiority or vulnerability. They may use tactics such as love bombing, gaslighting, or financial exploitation to gain control over their victims. Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of empowerment and self-awareness in overcoming feelings of inferiority and resisting manipulation.
    • False Sense of Superiority: In some cases, scam victims may experience a false sense of superiority or specialness within the context of the scam. Adlerian psychology suggests that individuals who feel superior may be more susceptible to manipulation or exploitation by others who offer praise or flattery. Scammers may reinforce this false sense of superiority to maintain their victims’ trust and compliance.
    • Loss of Social Interest: Scam victims may experience a loss of social interest or connection as a result of their victimization. Adlerian psychology highlights the importance of social support and community involvement in promoting mental health and resilience. Scam victims may benefit from reconnecting with supportive relationships and seeking professional assistance to regain a sense of empowerment and agency.
  3. After the Scam:
    • Rebuilding Self-Esteem: Many scam victims experience significant damage to their self-esteem and confidence as a result of the scam. Adlerian psychology emphasizes the importance of rebuilding self-esteem through encouragement, empowerment, and goal-oriented therapy. Scam victims may benefit from working with a therapist or counselor who can help them process their experiences, challenge negative beliefs, and set meaningful goals for the future.
    • Seeking Social Support: Adler believed that social connections are essential for psychological well-being and resilience. Scam victims may benefit from seeking support from friends, family members, or support groups who can offer empathy, validation, and practical assistance. Reconnecting with social interests and community involvement can also help rebuild a sense of belongingness and connection.
    • Learning from the Experience: Adlerian psychology encourages individuals to learn from their experiences and use them as opportunities for growth and self-awareness. Scam victims may benefit from reflecting on the factors that made them vulnerable to exploitation and taking steps to strengthen their boundaries, self-esteem, and critical thinking skills. By integrating these lessons into their lives, scam victims can move forward with greater resilience and empowerment.

This perspective offers valuable insights into the vulnerability of scam victims before, during, and after a relationship scam. By understanding the underlying factors that contribute to vulnerability and resilience, individuals can take proactive steps to protect themselves from exploitation and rebuild their lives with strength and resilience.

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit:

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here:

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PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.







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