Inferiority complex (Alfred adler's theory)

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Inferiority complex and Alfred Adler's theory

According to Alfred Adler, who was the first one to coin the term inferiority complex, every child experiences the feelings of inferiority as the result of being surrounded by stronger and more capable adults.

As the child grows he becomes obsessed by his original feelings of inferiority he experienced earlier and so he strives for power and recognition.

If the child failed to meet certain life challenges during his act of compensation then he will develop an inferiority complex.

So according to Adler every child feels inferior but not every one develops an inferiority complex which only affects those who failed to compensate correctly.

Primary and secondary inferiority complex

When the man who used to feel inferior as a child because of his perceived weaknesses faces a challenge that he can’t meet he develops what’s called a secondary inferiority.

In the Solid Self confidence program i said that the secondary inferiority feelings are feelings of inferiority that are based on the primary inferiority feelings the child experienced when it was young. Its as if the inferiority feelings were dormant until the secondary inferiority feelings happened and reminded the person of his original inferiority.

As I pointed out in my article inferiority complex causes and treatment, rejection, discrimination, bullying and physical disabilities can be the main reason behind the primary inferiority which then leads to the secondary inferiority.

Adler also coined the term organ inferiority which refers to the inferiority feelings the person who has a certain physical disability develops if people made him believe that he is not as good as them.

Inferiority complex treatment?

You can’t use affirmations, positive thinking, NLP or any of the quick fixes available to treat inferiority complex. If you feel inferior then according to Adler you didn’t manage to compensate in a correct way and unless you do so your feelings of inferiority will remain. (see Do affirmations really work?).

You might have failed to achieve your life goals, you might have found yourself incompetent compared to your peers or you might have failed to develop the same skills your peers have developed and this is what resulted in your feelings of inferiority.

I strongly agree that the solution for treating inferiority complex is compensating in the right direction. If you failed to become popular in school then you can’t compensate by earning a PHD degree!! But instead, you must compensate by becoming popular somewhere else (for example among your current friends or your work peers).

Most people usually try to compensate in the wrong direction and that’s why their inferiority complex keeps hunting them as long as they live. Find the real cause of your inferiority, compensate correctly and your inferiority feelings will go away.

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