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Superiority complex refers to an exaggerated feeling of being superior to others.[1]

Contents

Background

The term was coined by Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870 – May 28, 1937), as part of his School of Individual psychology. It was introduced in his series of books, including "Understanding Human Nature" and "Social Interest".

Definition and Potential causes

The term "superiority complex", in everyday usage, refers to an overly high opinion of oneself; in psychology, it refers to the unrealistic and exaggerated belief that one is better than others. This is juxtaposed to "inferiority complex" sufferers in whom this develops as a way to compensate for unconscious feelings of low self-esteem or inadequacy.

The socially awkward teen may convince themselves that the reason he cannot connect with more forward individuals is because he is more intelligent and sophisticated than them. This is compared to an inferiority complex which, in adults, even business executives may put on a tough facade and try to make others think well of them, but inside they feel inadequate and do not respect themselves.[2] Those exhibiting the superiority complex have a self-image of supremacy versus those with inferiority complexes; who may project their feelings of inferiority onto others who threaten their facade of superiority. Those with superiority complexes may garner a negative image in those around them, as they are not concerned with the opinions of others about themselves. This is responsible for the paradox in which those with feelings of inferiority are the ones who present themselves in the best light possible; while those with a superiority complex may not take the time to polish their image, often to the point of flaw. This may give off an image that others may consider inferior. This is responsible for the misconception that those with an inferiority complex, but the complex is not defined by the behaviour of the individual but by the self-image of the individual. But this is not to say that an person with a superiority complex will not express their superiority to others, only that they do not feel the need to do so as they possess an artificially high self-esteem. Those with a superiority complex may speak as if they are all-knowing and better than others. But ultimately they do not care if others think so or not, and will not care if others tell them so. They simply won't listen to, and don't care about, those who disagree. This is juxtaposed to an inferiority complex where if their knowledge, accuracy, superiority or etc is challenged, will not stop in their attempts to prove such things until the other party accepts their opinion (or whatever it may be). Again this is another reason that those with inferiority complexes are often mistaken for having superiority complexes when they must express and maintain their superiority in the eyes of others. Many fail to recognize that this is a trait of low self-opinion who care deeply about the opinion of others, not of those who feel superior and have high-self esteem and do not care at all about the opinion of others.

Behaviors related to this in a superiority complex may include an exaggerated opinion of one’s worth and abilities, unrealistically high expectations in goals and achievements for oneself and others, persistent attempts to correct others (regardless of whether or not they are actually correct), a tendency to discredit others' opinions and over-forcefulness aimed at dominating those considered as weaker or less important. While behaviors related to this in an inferiority complex may include exaggeration of one’s worth and abilities to others, vanity, extravagant dressing (intent on drawing attention), excessive need for competition, pride, over-sentimentality and affected exaltation, snobbishness, a tendency to discredit others' opinions and over-forcefulness aimed at dominating those who threaten their image of superiority. In both cases the conscious awareness of one's delusion typically results in a temporal phenomenen called cognitive dissonance, which may or may not serve the purpose of bringing that person back "down to earth".

Mistakenly the belief exists that both the superiority and inferiority complex can sometimes be found together as different expressions of the same pathology and both complexes can exist within the same individual.[3] Although it has been noted that to truly have a superiority complex one cannot possess an inferiority complex, as the individual truly believes they are superior to others not inferior, which express mostly antithetic behaviors. An inferiority complex may manifest with the behaviours that are intended to show others that one is superior; such as expensive material possessions, or an obsesion with vanity and appearances. They express themselves as superior because they lack feelings of adequacy. Superiority complex sufferers do not care about image or vanity, they have innate feelings of superiority and thus do not concern themselves with proving their superiority to others.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/superiority+complex - superiority complex
  2. ^ Kahn, Ada P., and Ronald M. Doctor. Facing Fears: The Sourcebook for Phobias, Fears and Anxieties. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.  
  3. ^ Kahn, Ada P., and Ronald M. Doctor. Facing Fears: The Sourcebook for Phobias, Fears and Anxieties. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.  







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