Inferiority Complex

Do you have an inferiority complex?

  • Are you quick to pick on yourself?
  • Do you put yourself down?
  • Do you criticise your projects and creativity?

It is important to be able to recognise when you are giving yourself a hard time for no good reason, and to learn to be less self-critical.

Having feelings of inferiority is an ordinary part of life.  It is helpful to be able to recognise when something is inferior.  It is useful to be able to judge whether we produce inferior work and to use that information to improve things. 

But when we speak of an inferiority complex we are talking about the way a sense of inferiority has become dominant and taken over.  It may have become a major part of your psychology.

Do you feel your work is inferior?

  • Instead of having an ordinary sense of your limitations, are you plagued with feelings that your work is somehow inferior? 

An inferiority complex can be very complicated to live with.  In the longer term it will be very difficult in your relationships with your partners or children.  It is very hard for you to appreciate yourself and your work when you are in the grip of an inferiority complex.

How did your inferiority complex develop?

Frequently an inferiority complex has its roots in our childhood and is based upon our relationships with our siblings, or our feelings about the way our parents treated us.  It may be a reflection of the way in which your parents may have undermined and belittled you.  Sometimes parents are so attached to their own need for  authority that they endlessly criticise their children.  This can have far reaching consequences.

If you suffer from an inferiority complex you may be very quick to belittle or undermine yourself.

Symptoms of an inferiority complex

  • You might be quick to withdraw
  • You may belittle and put other people down
  • You may constantly feel the need to prove your own worth
  • You might blame everybody else for your misfortunes
  • You might be critical of other people’s work rather than see or acknowledge the merit in it
  • You might have a reluctance to join in with other people, you may be too critical of other people to see the benefit of doing things with them
  • You might be extremely sensitive to criticism, you will react and become defensive; this may well come out as aggression
  • You might look for attention through unhealthy means such as becoming ill,  suffering misfortunes and lamenting yourself as a victim
  • You might be lacking in self-esteem,
  • You might be feel you do not measure up properly

When we speak of a complex we are speaking of qualities of ourselves that we are only partly conscious of.  A complex has an unconscious dimension.  Because we are only partly conscious of our complexes they become activated by random events, in this case by the sense of our inferiority being provoked by something.  

Once the complex is activated our behaviour will be driven by it

We might become aggressive as a way of compensating for our sense of inferiority.  In some cases when the inferiority complex is activated it will cause us to deliver a high-quality performance.  In other cases it may drive us to react aggressively which might be expressed as bullying or intimidation, a kind of small man syndrome.

Carl Jung and Complexes

Carl Jung wrote a great deal about complexes.  

  • For Jung a complex is an autonomous unconscious part of us.
  • Our personalities are made up of many such complexes.  
  • When a complex is activated it can become dominant, we can think of ‘being in the grip of a complex’.  
  • In an inferiority complex, the complex is activated by some sort of injury or offence that is felt by the inferior part of us.  
  • The complex works to compensate.  This might produce quality work, it might produce destructive results, in each case we are partly unconscious of what drives our responses.  
  • This means that we will cause certain things to happen but will not see our own part in them, instead we might feel like our lives and relationships go badly through nothing to do with us.

Low self-esteem and inferiority complex

It becomes very difficult to appreciate our achievements if we have a sense of low self-esteem.  Whatever we do, however much other people tell us they like our work, we will feel second-best. 

This makes it hard if not impossible to take our own work seriously and to appreciate the effort we put in.  Instead of registering the improvements we make, we brush them off as though they don’t really count for much.  We see them as inferior.

  • We can become highly critical of everything we do and attack our own work and productions. 
  • An inferiority complex will make it very hard to appreciate just how well you are doing.
  • And it gets worse because instead of appreciating how well you are doing you are likely to pick on yourself and attack your work and knock your attempts to get somewhere.

In psychotherapy it may become possible to acknowledge the skewed inferiority complex that is always undermining your work, and to find a way to acknowledge and balance your life better.  To recognise for example the effort you are putting in to coming to your therapy.  Your inferiority complex will always be looking to find proof that you are not good enough.

Treating an inferiority complex

An inferiority complex is a defence against some kind of sensitivity.  Its roots lie deep in the past.  Repairing it is serious and necessary work.  Necessary because left untreated it will undermine the pleasure that can be enjoyed in living and relating to others.

It takes time to repair the damage that has been caused to self-esteem but it can be done.

It is possible to develop insight into the way your inferiority complex gets hold of you and undermines your work and life.  Psychotherapy can help you develop such insights and these insights can form the basis of a sustained repair.

Contact me

I have twenty years experience of helping people find ways to engage with, and to try to come to terms with their inferiority complexes, with the forces that influence and shape their lives.

Giving yourself the chance to speak in a confidential setting  is helpful.  It may provide you with the chance to find a more constructive and less critical way of living.

Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my work might help you.