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Inferiority Complex

  The Inferiority Complex was an important concept in Alfred Adler\'s individual psychology. He made a distinction between the natural feelings of inferiority and a subjective complex of inferiority. He defined a mentally healthy person as someone who moves on a horizontal plane and is task-oriented (that is, adjusting his or her behaviour to situations, using common sense). This would deal with three major life tasks: work, friendship and love. (Dreikurs later added a fourth to this: becoming at one with oneself and relating to the cosmos.) Psychological disturbances occur when individuals feel inferior and that they do not have a place. These inferiority feelings are substituted with compensatory striving for personal superiority. Those who feel inferior and act superior cannot do tasks adequately, as neurotic inferiority feelings sabotage the progress. Psychotic individuals distort reality to escape feelings of inferiority; psychopaths, rejecting common sense, have only self-interest, so that no conscience interferes with delusions of grandeur.

Adler thought that inferiority feelings could be the result of educational errors, pushing the child too hard, or of a socially and economically inferior environment. He saw two ways in which people dealt with them: the feeling of superiority already described, and a retreat behind the barricades of weakness while projecting feelings of superiority. MJ

Further reading Alfred Adler, In Freud\'s Shadow; , P.E. Stepansky, Adler in Context.



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