Message to Som Gollakota

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Woodinville, WA
Xxxeriority Complexes
April 30, 2009
Inferiority Complex - Definition - Refers to a feeling that one is inferior to others in some way. This could come from either perceived/imagined or actual inferiority in the afflicted person, and thought to drive them to overcompensate. Superiority Complex - Definition - Refers to a subconscious neurotic mechanism of compensation developed by an individual as a result of feelings of inferiority, brought by real or perceived social rejection.

hile one is the cause, the other is an effect in some cases. Regardless, both are psychological conditions as identified by Dr. Alfred Adler (1870-1937), an Austrian medical doctor, psychologist, and founder of the school of Individual Psychology. Adler advocated psychology for prevention, and encouraging children to exercise their power through reasoned decision-making whilst cooperating with others.
Since early childhood, my father used to guide us shaping our thinking and decision-making abilities. Every time we used to ask him for a decision, he would say "I can guide you and advise you. I can tell you what path will lead you where. It is your decision to choose your path. Beware, that where you end up will depend on what you choose". As we started making our own decisions, there were many times our decisions were at odds with what he suggested or would've decided. Our mother would get upset and complain to our father "They are not listening to you, why don't you discipline them?". His response was "I profess independent thinking. I can't be upset when their independent thinking conflicts with mine. They are learning to make their own decisions and face consequences. I will not be there to guide them forever. They may make some bad choices, but I hope I taught them well, and they will learn and improve".
Little did I know about these complexes and why he was trying to teach us what he was. But without "exercising power through reasoned decision-making whilst cooperating with others", we will all soon slide into Inferiority Complex - second guessing ourselves, thinking we are not good enough and inferior to others around us.
I have observed various people in various walks of life that had both complexes. Here are some of my observations.
  • Inferiority Complex - While in some stronger personalities, it drives them to excel, the classic specimen are externally weak (physical, situational, financial, positional etc.), and exhibit behaviors such as withdrawal, retreat/running away from difficulties, submissiveness, isolation, sulking, crying, cursing themselves, cursing a higher power for their situation (such as God), and in some extreme cases, physically abusing themselves too. All these come out of their feeling of helplessness to their feeling inferior.
  • Superiority Complex - In quite a few cases, it manifests in putting on a "know-it-all" persona to assert superiority. Often times, negative reinforcement is used to force their views on others. Even the slightest insinuation of questioning their authority (often perceived or imagined) would result in high energy outbursts, uncontrollable anger, hate speech, and in extreme cases, physical violence.
While these are two ends, I have seen many lying somewhere in the middle, and some others move from one end to the other either abruptly or gradually. Regardless of where they are in the spectrum, they still are psychologically affected and are not yet aware of the means to deal with it.
The people suffering from these complexes are not always so negative. The ones who know how to deal with these complexities do so and react quite positively. To prove to themselves and to others that they are better, these people work hard and truly excelling in their fields through positive self-reinforcement.
This rambling has already gone long enough. Therefore, I will conclude this piece as such. All of us are inferior and superior. We are inferior to someone, and superior to some others. We ought to realize this fact, know our strengths and weaknesses, compensate our weaknesses by leveraging the strengths of the stronger, and complement the weaker by offering them our strengths. We must use our power and strength to protect the powerless and the weak. We must exercise our power through reasoned decision-making whilst cooperating with others.