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.
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.