Adler, one of Freud’s earliest collaborators, broke with him in 1911 to form his own psychoanalytic movement called Individual Psychology, the central concept of which was Adler’s theory of a neurosis he called an “inferiority complex.” His writings stressed the role of bodily inferiority in the development of the individual and the compensatory strivings which result. These strivings, he felt, could lead to overcompensation and a craving for superiority which may cut the individual off from the social group to which he belongs. By the mid-1930s, Adler’s theories had gained an international following, and could be observed in, for example, the Viennese school system’s child guidance clinics, which Adler founded in 1919. Beginning in 1925, Adler traveled regularly to the United States, settling there permanently in 1935.
The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Filene observed his father’s life in America beginning as a peddler and finishing as the owner of several successful department stores. With his brother Abraham, Edward built upon his father’s success to create the Boston-based Filene’s, one of the largest such stores in the nation. Its success was due to Filene’s many innovations including a “money back guarantee” and the creation of Filene’s Basement, an annex designed to move excess merchandise at reduced prices. Filene was also an innovator in worker relations implementing such programs as profit sharing, paid vacations, a 40-hour work week, and a credit union for his employees. However, his interest expanded beyond his own staff, and led to an initiative known as the Boston 1915 Movement dedicated to improving working class housing conditions, transportation and access to civic institutions and services such as libraries and parks. Filene was a client of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, public relations pioneer Edward Bernays.
Our letter may refer to Filene’s sponsorship of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis which he co-founded as a way to increase the public’s awareness of the dangers of propaganda. A meeting on “Education and Democracy” was organized by the IPA in Boston on March 29th and was attended by Adler and Bernays.
Written a mere two months before Adler’s death on May 28, 1937 and six months before Filene’s on September 26th. Folded with some creasing and light wear. A small piece of paper identifying the recipient has been attached with tape in the lower margin. In very good condition and somewhat uncommon.