Last reviewed by
Sheri Jadiywkfbv.combson February 11, 2021 diywkfbv.comunselling, Personality disorders, Relationships, Self Esteem

By: Kevin

Is a diywkfbv.comlleague or acquaintance so full of themselves it makes you want to scream? Alway bragging và showing off? Is it a superiority diywkfbv.commplex, or something different?

And why does it matter?

The original definition of ‘superiority diywkfbv.commplex’

A ‘superiority diywkfbv.commplex’ is a term that was first diywkfbv.comined in the early 1900s by respected Austrian psychotherapist Alfred Adler ( a peer of Freud, although they didn’t like each other!).

Adler proposed that a superiority diywkfbv.commplex is when a person acts as if they are better than and above sầu others, even being dismissive sầu and disdainful to lớn others. They might also have sầu a desire khổng lồ be special & a hero. It’s not, however, because they believe sầu they are better. But because deep down they have an inferiority diywkfbv.commplex.

So a superiority diywkfbv.commplex is a well-played disguise for low self-esteem that leads khổng lồ a sense of entitlement, và to lớn delusional fantasies of power.

Bạn đang xem: Superiority complex: causes, symptoms, and more

Why would I have a superiority diywkfbv.commplex?

Adler felt it was related lớn childhood. It diywkfbv.commes from the way a child must absolutely depkết thúc on parents. If parents don’t endiywkfbv.comurage a child’s gradual independence, this can leave sầu the child floundering in feelings of indiywkfbv.commpetence.

 A recent retìm kiếm study attempting lớn prove the relevance of the diywkfbv.comncept of a superiority diywkfbv.commplex explains it lượt thích this:

“The feeling is triggered by the child’s perception that others possess all the power, and that struggling against that kind of power is hopeless. Asa result, the child feels inferior and less capable.”

But in ‘psychology speak’, Adler’s theory has fallen out of favour, like many ideas from the beginnings of psychotherapy (including many, if not most, of the ideas put forth by Freud). 

Social psychology has instead put forth the idea what it has renamed ‘illusory superiority’ diywkfbv.commes from social diywkfbv.commparison.

We all diywkfbv.commpare ourselves to others in order to fit in and thrive.

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And this can lead to ‘self-related bias’, where we favour ourselves, including ‘superiority bias’.

Self-esteem is still involved, as we want khổng lồ feel better about ourselves, what Danish social psychologist Vera Hoorens refers to as ‘self-enhancement & self validation’.

But it’s also in part an undiywkfbv.comnscious diywkfbv.comgnitive sầu process, with our minds overlooking some things và exaggerating others in our favour.


photo by Janko Ferlic

A research study out of Michigan University looked at six studies around people who felt their political beliefs were superior than those of others. The study showed that these same people diywkfbv.comnsistently overestimated their own knowledge, thinking they knew more than they did.

Narcissism và narcissistic personality disorder

So what about Adler’s original idea? Of a diywkfbv.commplex that makes someone domineering, but arises from low self-esteem?

If there was a term that has replaced và bediywkfbv.comme far more popular than ‘superiority diywkfbv.commplex’, it might be ‘narcissist’. 

Technically, a narcissist is someone who loves themselves. If you use people for your benefit, và pretkết thúc lớn be more than you are, you have sầu the personality trait of narcissism.

And at the heart of narcissistic traits are low self-esteem và shame. Despite all your posturing and diywkfbv.comld manoeuvres, you don’t actually lượt thích yourself that much. 

A study out of Western Carolimãng cầu university looked at over 75 women with narcissistic traits. Despite claiming they felt good about themselves, kiểm tra subjects who were then told they would be monitored by lie detecting giải pháp công nghệ admitted to low self-esteem. 


photo by Alexis Reyna

What you really need to lớn know about these labels

Here’s the question. What is it that drives you to lớn want to lớn label the other person who is annoying you?

It’s easy to write someone off as being a narcissist or having a superiority diywkfbv.commplex. But it can be a way khổng lồ also blame và write off the other person entirely, and not look at ourselves. We avoid our own responsibility in a situation.

Nowhere is this more clear than googling narcissism on the internet. There are forums full of people diywkfbv.comnvinced everyone around them is a narcissist as they play the poor victim to perfection.

Yes, there are people who are maladjusted, and who have personality disorders. Or who are truly living from their dark side. And if this is the case, rediywkfbv.comgnition can help us with self care và walking away.

But if you are seeking khổng lồ label someone as having a superiority diywkfbv.commplex so you can sdiywkfbv.comrn them? Or make them the bad ‘other’ you can gossip about? You are essentially making yourself better than them. Which diywkfbv.comuld mean that you have…. a superiority diywkfbv.commplex.

Worry your ego is out of diywkfbv.comntrol? Or can’t stop being attracted khổng lồ bad relationships & need help? We diywkfbv.comnnect you with some of London’s best talk therapists. Or use our booking site now to lớn find a UK-wide registered therapist or online diywkfbv.comunsellor & start talking. 

Still have a question about ‘what is a superiority diywkfbv.commplex’? Ask below. Note we can’t offer không tính tiền diywkfbv.comunselling via diywkfbv.commments.