What is an inferiority complex?

January 10, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Psychology

Complex is used by psychologists to denote, according to Webster’s International dictionary, “a system of desires and memories, especially a repressed and unconscious system which in disguised form exerts a dominating influence upon the personality.” The Standard dictionary defines the term as “a group of mental contents which have become consolidated into a unit mass.” That authority says the word is a translation of Zusammen as employed by Johann Herbart (1776-1841), a noted German philosopher and educationist. The Practical Standard dictionary defines complex in this connection as “a group of ideas mentally associated with a given subject existing, with their accompanying feeling-tones, in a repressed state.” Popularly the word is put to many uses. It is particularly applied to an exaggerated fear or sensitiveness regarding some subject or situation. For instance, Napoleon is said to have had a conquest complex and Keats a beauty complex. It is common to say that this or that person has a persecution complex. A person is said to have an inferiority complex when he inherently feels himself weak and incompetent, especially in relation to obstacles, as well as other persons. The opposite state of feeling or attitude of mind is termed a superiority complex. These terms are often confused. A person having a superiority complex is one who really has superior ability and the complex consists in not recognizing his limitations. He is egotistical and his conceit is genuine. On the other hand, a person having an inferiority complex is actually inferior in ability and the complex consists in trying to compensate for it by bluffing, posing, rationalizing or otherwise disguising, perhaps from himself as well as others, his true state of feeling. Inferiority complex was popularized, if not coined, by Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and neurologist, who founded modern psychoanalysis.

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