According to Alfred Adler’s individual psychology, “Each of us is born into the world with a sense of inferiority. We start as a weak and helpless child and strive to overcome these deficiencies by becoming superior to those around us.”
Both superiority and inferiority complexes aren’t really two opposite personality traits but, are co existent. i.e. we as humans are first born as weak social beings who, in the process of their existential struggle try to make themselves stronger as per the ‘societal norms’, That, is ones’ journey from feeling inferior and weak to presenting themselves as superior and stronger.
These are two of many psychological traits inherently present in human being as a social being but, more often than not, we lose the balance of the issue in fact and move towards the extremes known as: superiority complex and inferiority complex.
The word “complex” is directly related to power and status. More so, the lack of these.
As one of the most prominent world leader, Martin Luther King, Jr says, “I feel that when a white child goes to school only with white children, unconsciously that child grows up in many instances devoid of a world perspective. There is an unconscious provincialism, and it can develop into an unconscious superiority complex just as a Negro develops an unconscious inferiority complex.”
Having either superiority complex or inferiority complex is an unconscious development in ones’ personality rather than being deliberate attempt. Us humans are a social being and rightly so, as we grow up in a society, we seek for its validation. Further, we frame our activities only to direct our thinking pattern as per what society approves of us.
At this point in the human history, us humans are suffering from more psychological complexes than ever may it be anxiety, depression, bi- polar disorder or disorders such as superiority and inferiority complex.
These are not merely the personality traits but have taken the form of disorder. As in, we are being unable to maintain the balance of any of these inherent human traits and moving towards the extremes and even more so, as we are now acquainted with the fact that, these are co-existent.
So, what exactly are superiority and inferiority complex? Let’s find out.
“Superiority complex is a psychological defense mechanism that compensates for an inferiority complex.”
It is a false concept in one’s own mind as being better than or prominent than they actually are and also from the people around them. We can also understand superior complex from the statement, “poor performers are not in a position to recognize the shortcomings in their performance.”
Some of the characteristic traits of a person suffering from superiority complex disorder are: constant seeking of validation, not owning up to the mistakes, disagreement with the people with contradicting personality, self-obsession, deeming others as being entitled to them, control freaks.
Therefore, when one considers their cognitive capabilities as being better than they actually are and also being in the state of delusion that, they are doing it right even when they make mistake after mistake and avoid critically examining the fact. Also, the fact that they aren’t open to others’ opinion incase of disagreements. These are more assertive personality type. At last, they do what they do to mask the sense of inferiority from arising within themselves.
Adler’s theory suggests that, those with an inferiority complex will attempt to outwardly show that they are superior to compensate for their inferiority.
Striving for superiority is normal for all adults and children. “Superiority runs parallel to physical growth and is an intrinsic necessity of life itself.” Additionally, striving for superiority can be done in two ways: a socially useful way and a negative, or unethical way. If a criminal, delinquent, or addict feels inferior, they may be attempting to achieve their superiority through a negative direction. A negative direction means “trying to achieve wealth or fame through unethical business or political practices.”
This is also the sub-conscious personality trait where a person feels invalidated and under the constant perception of being less than others in anything they do. This personality type constantly seeks for others’ acceptance and approval of them. Slightest of indifferences make them brutally evaluate themselves and find themselves on the lower side of the hierarchy than everyone else. No matter how good they perform.
The person with an inferiority complex is constantly focusing on their weaknesses and finding others as being more powerful than own self. Inferiority mainly rises from the society.
Now, how do these complexes affect our young minds?
Firstly, it is not just the young minds that have either of these complexes is eminent in people of all age groups but, the most to be impacted are definitely the youth.
These are a threat to ones’ individual essence as there is a constant struggle to fit in and better than in both the cases. We act in a way to seek approval rather than as how our mind functions. As we feel like we are constantly under the societal radar.
These are rather internal disorders so; these also increase the chances of other psychological problems such as depression and anxiety among the youth that minimize the productivity and efficiency and keep us from an independent thinking. As the voices within us are suppressed and the voices of society guide us.
This, also influences one to take a rather negative step as the issues of power and status have been long known to us to give rise to wars and mass destruction. These complexes are also based on the struggle of power and status so, we can assume the worst possible social threat. For example: the mass shooting at one of the schools in Florida of United states in the year 2018. Was due to the traitor’s complexes.
Therefore, superiority and inferiority are a part of human’s personal development but ones’ lack of balancing capabilities of the same might result to these turning out as complexes and eventually as the disorders that would require serious psychological attention.