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What Is a Superiority Complex?

Individuals with a superiority complex have an exaggerated feeling of self-importance.
Individuals with a superiority complex feel superior to everyone else.
An individual with a superiority complex often has no regard for what others have to say.
Verbal abuse from parents may lead to the development of a superiority complex in their children.
People with a superiority complex may not feel as though normal relationship rules apply to them.
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  • Written By: April S. Kenyon
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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A superiority complex is a psychological disorder in which the affected individual experiences an exaggerated feeling of self-importance. He or she feels superior to other people and displays a general disregard for the thoughts of others. Individuals with a superiority complex often exhibit a sense of grandiosity. They typically maintain a feeling that they are better or more important than other people, and often fail to take the opinions or desires of others seriously. This disorder may also be referred to as narcissism or megalomania.

Traits of someone with a superiority complex include haughtiness, a lack of empathy, and a tendency to brag. Individuals with a narcissistic personality often have a difficult time maintaining close relationships. They exhibit an intense reaction to anything that is perceived as an insult. Someone with a superiority complex flatters those who give him or her admiral acknowledgment, but despise anyone who does not display admiration. The individual often claims to be an expert in a number of areas and pretends to be more than he or she is.

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A superiority complex is generally the result of an underlying inferiority complex. The individual likely feels inadequate or unimportant in some way and attempts to compensate for this with an illusory superiority and egotism. If there is no underlying inferiority complex, the individual may have received such praise and admiration as a child that feelings of superiority carried over into adulthood. Other possible causes of a superiority complex include emotional abuse, excessive criticism, and overindulgence from parents.

Individuals with superiority complexes will often interrupt people and generally have no regard for what others have to say. They tend to bring conversations around to themselves in a discussion, and frequently use the words “I,” “me,” and “my.” Those with a narcissistic personality believe that the rules do not apply to them and will often defy authority. People affected with this psychological condition will often use or manipulate others with no regard to their feelings.

It is important to distinguish between a superiority complex and a healthy sense of self-worth. Those who have a high confidence level in themselves may be inaccurately described as narcissistic or as having a sense of superiority. Those who simply have confidence in their abilities do not generally exhibit a complete disregard for others or a lack of empathy. While these individuals may claim to be an expert or highly skilled in certain areas, they are fully aware that they are not superior to others. Those with superiority complexes generally feel they are superior in all ways.

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anon971628
Post 10

I have an older sister who acts like a narcissistic snob, but she suffers from a superiority complex, having been poor early in life.

She feels her taste, her books, her belongings, her proper manners, her fashion, her color, is superior. I refrain from calling her as she is only interested in her own talking. --Sandy

anon356000
Post 9

I looked this up in trying to see if I was the narcissistic one. I met a guy online and we started a relationship after only two weeks of knowing each other. The pace was too fast for me. My fault for not listening to my guts. We talked every day for a month until we argued about race and politics. his beliefs revealed his apathy and disrespect for the struggles of "black" people in the U.S. He got offended when I got offended at his insensitive statements and couldn't see or understand why I was taking things personally.

I was being idealized with statements like "you are my dream girl" "you make me happy" and "you are all I need." That's too much responsibility put on me. I broke it off after realizing his oppressive and misogynistic spirit.

So I came here to see if I can recognize these things in myself and change them.

anon330993
Post 8

Two people I used to work with have this complex. Both use the superiority to mask their true inferiority. They are fine as long as everyone around them lies to them on a regular bases by inflating their egos. It's the only way to deal with them. You don't want to deal with their narcissistic injury or rage, trust me.

The truth is so painful to these people that they cannot even accept reality, so they begin to believe the lies of their superior abilities. They are very fragile people. To make matters worse, nobody likes a narcissist, so the cycle repeats itself.

anon306429
Post 5

I have an older sister with a superiority complex. I finally recognized this in her after years of her interference in my life that became increasingly more disrespectful and just made me feel bad.

I regarded her as my big sister looking out for her little sister, then as a control freak and now as someone with a god complex with a lot of hubris. These are descriptive terms that I used in my mind before I ever looked up any definitions on the internet.

JackWhack
Post 4

I imagine it would be difficult for a narcissist to seek superiority complex treatment. After all, wouldn't they be inclined to resist admitting that they have a problem?

How could you suggest that a person with a superiority complex needs treatment? There has to be a way to approach them without offending them, but I cannot fathom what that would be. Their whole foundation rests upon believing that they are perfect, and for someone to suggest otherwise would bring forth rage.

shell4life
Post 3

I think it's unfortunate that many people mistake self-confidence for having a superiority complex. If more people were confident in their abilities, then we wouldn't have inferiority complexes and self-esteem issues!

My cousin is a great violinist, and she knows it. There is no shame in that. However, whenever our family gets together over the holidays, they poke fun at her about her confidence in her musical talent.

I think that they should be ashamed! I also believe that they are jealous, because they have no musical talent.

cloudel
Post 2

@feasting – If you look up the superiority complex definition in a dictionary, it should have a picture of my brother's wife beside it. She is narcissistic to the core!

I don't know why he married her. For some reason, he fell in love with her and felt he could not live without her. She is really pretty, but looks can only go so far.

He has become her personal assistant and support system. If he doesn't compliment her often, she fishes for compliments. He can't do anything that doesn't benefit her, or she will say, “What about me?”

feasting
Post 1

I have a friend who displays all of these superiority complex symptoms! She is really difficult to be around, but I am one of the few people who will put up with her, so I feel a responsibility to remain friends with her.

If I need someone to listen to me, she is not the person I call. It's hard to be around her on days when I am sad, because she will offer no support whatsoever. She will barely even notice that anything is out of the ordinary.

I can't imagine anyone marrying someone like her. Catering to her needs would be a full-time job, and it would place a strain on any relationship.

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