Alfred Adler – The concept of feeling inferior

Alfred Adler – The concept of feeling inferior

Alfred Adler was a pioneer of psychology who founded the school of individual psychology, which emphasizes the uniqueness of each person and their social relationships. Adler believed that humans are motivated by a striving for superiority, which is driven by feelings of inferiority that arise from childhood experiences. He also proposed that birth order, family constellation, and early interactions with others shape one’s personality and style of life. Adler’s theory of personality has influenced many other psychological approaches, such as humanistic, existential, and cognitive-behavioral therapies.

Alfred Adler was born  1870 in a village near Vienna, Austria. He was the second child of seven siblings in a Jewish family. His mother favored his older brother over him. Alfred Adler developed a sense of inferiority and competition with his older brother, which influenced his later theories. He had a close bond with his father, but felt distant from his mother.

Alfred Adler & The feeling inferior

Alfred Adler

Feeling inferior is a common and natural emotion that many people experience at some point in their lives. It can stem from various factors, such as comparing oneself to others, having low self-esteem, or facing challenges or difficulties. However, feeling inferior can also have negative consequences, such as affecting one’s mental health, performance, relationships, and happiness. Therefore, it is important to learn how to cope with this feeling and overcome it With the help of an expert psychotherapist.

According to Alfred Adler, feeling inferior is not a sign of weakness or pathology, but a normal and healthy response to the challenges of life. He argued that everyone has some aspects of themselves that they are dissatisfied with, and that they try to compensate for them by developing other strengths and abilities. For example, someone who feels insecure about their physical appearance may excel in academics or sports, or someone who feels unloved may seek recognition and admiration from others.

Striving for superiority

Striving for superiority

Alfred Adler called this process of compensation the “striving for superiority”, which he defined as the desire to overcome one’s difficulties and achieve one’s goals. He saw this as a positive and constructive force that drives human development and growth. However, he also recognized that some people may overcompensate for their inferiority feelings by developing an exaggerated sense of self-importance and superiority over others. He called this the “inferiority complex”, which he defined as a distorted and unhealthy way of coping with one’s shortcomings.

Alfred Adler suggested that the inferiority complex can manifest in different ways, such as aggression, arrogance, envy, jealousy, perfectionism, or withdrawal. He believed that these behaviors are rooted in a deep sense of insecurity and inadequacy, and that they prevent people from forming healthy relationships and achieving their true potential. He also argued that the inferiority complex can be influenced by various factors, such as childhood experiences, family dynamics, social expectations, and cultural norms.

Theory of inferiority

Theory of inferiority

Adler’s theory of inferiority can help us gain more insight into our own feelings and behaviors, as well as those of others. By recognizing our own inferiority feelings and how we cope with them, we can become more aware of our strengths and weaknesses, and work on improving ourselves in a realistic and constructive way. By understanding the inferiority feelings and coping strategies of others, we can empathize with them better, and avoid judging them harshly or unfairly.


Feeling inferior is not something to be ashamed of or to hide from. It is a natural and universal human experience that can motivate us to grow and achieve our goals. However, feeling inferior can also lead us to develop unhealthy patterns of thinking and acting that can hinder our happiness and success. By applying Adler’s theory of inferiority to our lives, we can learn to overcome our difficulties and realize our true potential.

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