What Is Fictional Finalism: A Simple Explanation 

what is fictional
by CJ McDaniel // July 28  

Several theories underline the study of human psychology. They also form the basis for identifying human behavior, personality types, and mental disorders.

Some psychology theories include behaviorist, humanistic, biological, cognitive, personality, and psychoanalytic theories.

Fictional finalism makes up a part of the personality theory. It tends to point out what makes up a person’s personality.

In this article, we will focus on fictional finalism and other related information you need to know. So keep reading from start to finish.

What Is Fictional Finalism? 

Fictional finalism is an unconscious goal or ideal. It’s a future goal that a person aspires to achieve, and so he directs his lifestyle to meet the goal. Alfred Adler postulated it in his personality theory.

It also depends on the theory that human beings are highly motivated by future possibilities and goals or ideals that they expect to reach than by their experiences. However, there have been adjustments to the theory over time.

According to the earliest form of the theory, people will always have problems, issues, or inferiorities. So, your personality will be shown by how you overcome or don’t overcome the problems.

But Adler later rejected it as a basic motive. He considered the center of a person’s personality to be consciousness.

However, there is an underlying urge for perfection in every human. So every human action or behavior is an attempt to reach the fictional finalism.

What Brings About Fictional Finalism?

Adler’s personality theory infers that fictional finalism begins from a person’s childhood. It infers that a child depends on his parents, so the dependence causes them to feel inferior. To overcome the feeling of inferiority, he strives to attain superiority.

In other words, a fictional goal of success begins when a child tries to overcome his feelings of inferiority. Such goals become a guiding fiction in the person’s present life. So, the picture of future success in his mind helps him overcome the difficulties of the present.

The child’s development of fictional finalism depends on his position in the family. From the theory, Adler made use of the case of a family with three children.

The firstborn child in the family feels deprived upon the arrival of another child. He feels he has lost his privileges, so he tries to survive independently without the need for affection. It usually leads him to seek leadership.

The second child usually tends to rival and compete with the first child. And so, he sets high goals for himself. He usually becomes successful.

But the last child is dependent on the older children, and the dependence may become too high.

However, he may desire to be independent, which will create an internal conflict.

On the other hand, an only child in a family is usually self-centered and addicted. When he grows up and is no longer the center of attention, he usually has difficulties relating to his peers. However, modern empirical studies don’t agree with it. So, an only child is emotionally and socially stable like other children.

Furthermore, goals are different depending on the individual. So, the drive to achieve superiority enables a person to develop from one stage of his life to the next.

The inability of a person to achieve the primary goal may result in some psychological disorders like superiority complex or inferiority complex.

Facts About Fictional Finalism

People, whether consciously or unconsciously, work to achieve fictional finalism. So, every thought, emotion, or action of that individual pushes towards attaining the goals.

There is a unity between the goals of self-improvement and fictional finalism (image of perfect self). So, fictional finalism unites the drive for self-improvement, the unconscious, and the conscious, to form the impulse of the personality.

Unhealthy feelings of inferiority in an individual reflect unhealthy fictional finalism. So, the extent to which a person realizes his potentials depends on the extent of freedom of thought, speech, opinion, and action. Hence, the fictional finalism of a person determines the nature of his inferiority feelings.

Inferiority feelings refer to feelings when a person lacks self-worth. However, inferiority feelings can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy inferiority feelings move the individual forward, while unhealthy ones do the opposite. Unhealthy inferiority feelings are also known as inferiority complex.

People with an inferiority complex usually become lazy, doubtful, helpless, or overcompensating.

Overcompensating refers to when a person is attempting to hide his sense of inferiority from himself and others. They usually do this by exaggerating their successes and qualities when they talk about them. Also, they are usually preoccupied with materialism, status, and power, as they see it as superiority.

People with healthy inferiority feelings tend to develop new talents and acquire new skills.

The goal of superiority is the ultimate fictional finalism that motivates people. Superiority is the state of satisfaction. Also, it might be the realization of a political, financial, or cultural objective. It’s the motivating factor for actions towards fictional finalism.

The Usefulness Of Fictional Finalism

Useful in conducting therapy: Fictional finalism’s usefulness is exhibited when a therapist uses the personality theory. Identifying fictional finalism can help determine the feelings of inferiority and anxiety in a patient.

Encourage personal growth among individuals: Even after therapy, people can still improve their self-worth and build better relationships. Fictional finalism can also help people review their concept of a satisfying life.


Fictional finalism gets its root from the personality theory, which asserts that people get their personality from childhood. However, the goal is your aim. You should know that the facts underlining this concept should not be generalized; there may be exceptions.

Finally, fictional finalism is not just a part of a theory, but it plays a role in therapy and can help you define what fulfills your life as you continue the journey of life.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!