Inferiority Complex

An inferiority complex is a fundamental feeling of inadequacy due to real or imagined social, psychological, intellectual, or physical defects.

History of Inferiority Complex

Adlerian psychology differentiates between two types of inferiority complexes.

  1. Primary inferiority is experienced by children as a result of their helplessness. This inferiority can be increased when children are compared unfavorably to others, and may lead to an inferiority complex in adulthood.
  2. Secondary inferiority occurs when an adult cannot reach the goals he or she has established to cover up the feelings of inferiority he or she has left over from childhood.

Contemporary psychologists typically use the term as a catch-all for low self-esteem. People experiencing an inferiority complex may have an actual deficit that makes them feel inferior, or may imagine their inferiority.

Treatment for Inferiority Complex

Psychotherapy is highly effective at treating feelings of inferiority. Because inferiority complexes are often the result of unhealthy thought processes and false beliefs, therapists will often work with people to reframe negative and/or damaging thoughts and beliefs.

When feelings of inferiority are due to an actual deficit, such as ineffective social skills, clinicians may help a person develop these skills. However, in many cases, inferiority complexes are caused by perceived deficits. These deficits often occur when a person measures himself according to an unrealistic ideal. For example, a person who wants to look like a supermodel may experience strong feelings of inferiority, but looking like a supermodel is an unreasonable goal; even supermodels do not look like supermodels without airbrushing and expert camerawork.

People may also experience feelings of inferiority after experiencing abuse or trauma. Inferiority is associated with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and clinicians may work to help people talk through their feelings of inferiority and directly address any early experiences that contributed to the development of the feelings.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Colman, A. M. (2006). Oxford dictionary of psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Last Updated: 08-10-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Dave T

    May 10th, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    I am only 5’8″ and I wish I was talker.

  • Najar w.

    May 13th, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    Im feeln the sort of depression may b d inferiority complex which i myself couldnt point out …….i lack direct eye contact…..hesitate talking to any stranger , even hesitate talking to any of my friend i had not talked for a time……. im too much depressed …… i need your help ….. rather any 1 here able to help me i will be grateful. ….Thanks

  • The Team

    May 13th, 2017 at 11:16 AM

    Hi Najar,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage,, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The Team

  • Cedrick

    May 1st, 2019 at 7:32 AM

    I suffer from inferiority complex – please help!

  • The Team

    May 1st, 2019 at 12:38 PM

    Dear Cedrick,

    If you would like to consult with a mental health professional, you can start finding therapists in your area by entering your city or ZIP code into the search field on this page:

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. You may click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. If you need help finding a therapist, you are welcome to call us. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and our phone number is 888-563-2112.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy Team

  • seth

    June 17th, 2019 at 6:28 AM

    hi I think therapy would not be affective for me as I think I’m to affected for it to work I want a list of powerful drug names I went to 9 schools have a brother 4 years older than me I’m Male I went the bed and as a teen I had anorexia so basically I’m completely screwed I need real affective medication names to knock me out of pretending to be successful and to be content alone can you recommend something

  • Bliss

    October 16th, 2019 at 5:04 PM

    Hello Seth, I hope this rely isn’t to late cause I am just seeing this. With all you have written, it’s obvious you are going through a whole lot no one deserve to go through, but I can tell you that you ain’t so screwed that a psychologist can’t handle. This is more psychological to physical and I need you to believe this because there is little to what they can do if you ain’t willing so please find a certified psychologist around you and get help. Also get to know the man Jesus Christ and get closer to him. He alone heals…..

  • Mawahib

    March 17th, 2020 at 6:20 AM

    Hi, i’m a 24 years old female, please help me expressing myself .
    I started to get confused about who really I am, because of this .
    I’m getting hesitated about doing anything, even very small things .
    When people tell me compliments , I say thank you but internally, I say you just don’t know me 😔

  • Johnny

    June 5th, 2020 at 12:29 PM

    I’m not good enough to leave a comment.

  • Elton

    August 30th, 2020 at 9:34 AM

    The most important value of life is the happiness of the soul, not anything outside of it.

  • Jahin

    September 24th, 2020 at 6:04 AM

    Hello,I am Jahin.Sometimes,I feel myself inferior especially when I notice that someone is better than me or I am not able to do something which others could do or people are more advanced than me.Instead of trying to reform myself,I think myself as inferior,worthless,eligible for nothing. And when I face any obstrucion in doing something at that time,be it a petty issue or not,I over react and feel myself more inferior and cry for hours.I can’t do anything at that time.I cannot study,even I can’t normally talk to others.I really need to get rid of this problem.It’s all about changing mentality and adopting a positive mindset, which I am not able to do.It will be great if someone can help me..
    Thank you..

  • Sher

    January 1st, 2021 at 9:38 PM

    I was very skinny in my childhood & since then been giving name like mosquito, stick etc. I was told & then realized that I am the least smart person who can be accepted by any girl. I tried but never had a girlfriend. Always get rejected. I then start giving every person number out of 10. So Brad Pitt is 10 & I give myself 2.
    I got arranged marriage, thanks to my parents but my wife often realize me the same fact that it’s a favour she did by marrying with me.
    I now totally hate myself & consider myself a loser. I tried not to go out & stay home.

  • Christiana

    July 15th, 2021 at 3:58 AM

    I also feel inferior whenever i see that someone is better than me or is able to do something that I can’t do. Sometimes too there are somethings that people believe I can do but deep within me I feel that I can’t do it or whenever people are doing something, I find it difficult to do it because I think I can’t do the same thing

  • Cassandra

    August 14th, 2021 at 12:09 AM

    While growing up, I was a dull child, I find it hard to understand what’s been taught in class. My classmates always laugh at me, I had no friends, so I hated myself and never saw anything good in myself. Nobody talked to me in class, I was depressed as a child..

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