Like the term suggests, people afflicted with superiority complex consider themselves to be ‘above’ most other people in their life. Superiority complex thus manifests itself in the attitude, character, and opinion of the person about himself/herself. This individual will comes across as overconfident and will have an exaggerated opinion about himself. Some characteristics of people having a superiority complex are:
- Vanity about personal look (which can be from extremely cared for, to willingly uncared for)
- Eccentric dressing sense
- Excitement in situations that aren’t justified
- Bragging and snobbish behavior
- Tyrannical behavior
- Tendency to hunt for mistakes and faults in others, etc.
There are various reasons why a person develops a superiority complex. One of the key reasons is lack of social communication. It can also be triggered by mistakes that parents make consciously or subconsciously, may be out of love or concern.
Psychologists say that there are numerous examples in the history of humankind of people afflicted by inferiority and superiority sentiments, and their attempts to solve it. Human beings generally are prone to feelings of inferiority that makes them look for security, which forces them to outdistance their own capacities. Unfortunately, this approach leads to extreme behavior manifested in the form of inferiority and superiority complex. Hence, such a unidirectional approach should be avoided. Instead, one must strive to use such sentiments positively to one’s advantage. For example, a person can accept his incapability and be self-motivated to better himself and resolve the problem. Even superiority sentiments should be kept in check so that these don’t affect the individual or others negatively. A superiority complex can help retain high self-esteem, which is very necessary in this competitive world. However, this shouldn’t be taken too far. One should balance between these two extremities.
Superiority complex refers to a deeply ingrained belief of being superior to others. Let’s go back to the previous scenario where Manisha is in a room full of successful filmmakers. Say, if Manisha had a superiority complex or attempted to feel superior, then she would start with a fault-finding exercise and criticize the filmmakers. She would try to “pull-down” their status just to make herself feel better. Manisha may also try to portray how smarter or better off than the audition candidates in a bid to prove that they are ‘lower’ than her.
It is common for people to demean others just to ‘overcome’ their inferiority complex. Such people believe in the saying “Attack is the best form of defense.” They attempt to hide their feelings of inferiority by trying to prove themselves superior, but generally fail to treat the key issue. They try to ‘overcome’ inferior feelings by ‘appearing’ better off than other people; for example, by wearing more expensive clothes than others, or by purchasing gadgets better than others. They fail to understand that this solution is just a temporary dressing for the large wound underneath their personality. As a result, even after such people achieve their desired goals of may be earning a million rupees or being the most popular celebrity, they still feel inferior.
Here, another culprit is how our minds believe that we can prove our worth only by comparing ourselves with others. Of course, this negative approach ultimately results only in more frustration and feelings of inferiority.
Once a person starts believing he is superior, he will need stimuli that can constantly affirm his superiority. He might use other people as stimuli; thereby, he will look for similar validation from others. He might even come across as needy and engage in attention-seeking behavior. If others ignore him or appear superior to him, he would immediately take up a defensive position by criticizing others and behave in a manner that will lift his own status.
Thus, inferiority and superiority complex co-exist in people. People can take up ‘superiority complex behavior’ in order to avoid feeling inferior.