Feelings of Inferiority and Seeking Superiority

From the moment a person is born, he observes the people, events, behaviors and reactions around him. With these observations, he acquires new teachings that will affect his view of himself and the world. These personally acquired teachings; It can be functional, making it easier to cope with difficult situations in life, as well as being dysfunctional and causing general negative judgments about life.

This observation process begins with the contact of a newborn baby with adults who are superior to him in every way. Newborn; In order to meet their basic needs such as nutrition, shelter and protection, they need adults who can recognize them and give correct feedback, and who are sufficiently developed in terms of cognitive and emotional development.

In the future, the aforementioned needs continue to exist by changing their shape. When both old and new needs are met at the right time and in the right way, two situations arise. First, the baby realizes that there are people who understand him and are sensitive to his needs, and a sense of trust develops. On the other hand, the inadequacy of being dependent on caregivers who are superior to him causes him to meet with the feeling of inferiority that will accompany him throughout his life.

Being small, helpless and in need of attention and help during childhood reinforces the thoughts that this helplessness will have to be carried throughout life and that life cannot be struggled with alone. This situation shows that everyone has more or less a sense of inferiority since childhood (Adler, 1927/ 2018).

When it comes to adulthood, it is tried to cope with the perceptions of inadequacy. The only way to achieve this is to achieve success, and at this point, the feeling of inferiority takes on the role of a force, a motive that pushes individuals towards success. What is healthy is self-development and success in areas that will be beneficial to other people, but in some unhealthy situations, the feeling of inferiority becomes very intense and the person starts to make efforts only to prove his superiority (Feist & Feist, 2008).

In this unhealthy situation, the feeling of inferiority becomes irresolvable and irrecoverable and develops an ‘inferiority complex’. The thought and fear that he will not be where he should be intensifies, increasing the feeling of inferiority felt by the individual. Thus, the only focus is ‘to establish superiority’ and in parallel to this, ‘more success’ and he thinks that he can only exist by proving himself over time (Shultz, 2013; cited in Selvi, 2018).

As mentioned, it takes more effort to overcome the inferiority complex. As the person strives, he or she will tend to seek different ways and display more maladaptive behaviors. According to Adler (1927), these maladaptive behaviors are defined as ‘striving for superiority’ and, in general, an overestimation of one’s own abilities and achievements.

While the striving for superiority serves as a defense mechanism that supports one’s recovery, it is also the motivating force in life. In order to lower the level of the inferiority complex, the individual may display contemptuous, aggressive, and faultless behaviors that he may consider himself superior to others (Topçu, 2018). The need to believe that they are different and special from others creates expectations such as other people being more interested in them and exhibiting behaviors that will make them feel different. For this reason, constantly checking and criticizing others; they tend to exhibit attitudes and gather evidence that they can see that they are ‘superior’ in their communication and relationships with other people, such as showing that they have the best features (Beck, Freeman & Davis, 2004; cited in Selvi, 2018).

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