The concept of mental illness has always been a very vital issue that hasn’t always got the attention it deserves. Inferiority complex is the chronic feeling of insufficiency or inadequacy and insecurity, whether real or imagined. It is usually triggered by events that occur early in childhood for example constantly being called stupid when younger unconsciously creates a memory that starts to believe it as true and anything said contrary said would be difficult to believe. It may also be initiated by constant comparison; it could also be a manifestation of a superiority complex. It is worsened by these common cognitive distortions; cognitive distortions are thoughts patterns that erode self-esteem. These include;

All-or-Nothing Thinking You see things as either all good or all bad. For example, “I’m a total failure because it took me more time than I said it would to write this report.”
Mental Filtering By focusing only on the negatives, you distort your view of yourself. For example, “If I’m late to the meeting, everyone will know that I’m a loser.”
Converting Positives into Negatives You undervalue your successes and compliments. For example, “I only got the job because no one else wanted it.” “A person with chronic low self-esteem has learned to filter their successes out, to undervalue them time and time again,” Maddux says.
Jumping to Negative Conclusions You reach a negative conclusion when little or no evidence supports it. For example, “My co-worker went to lunch without me, so she must be mad at me.”
Mistaking Feelings for Facts You confuse feelings or beliefs with facts. For example, “I don’t think I’m attractive, so I must be ugly.”

How do you know someone is suffering from inferiority complex? As is common with most mental conditions, signs are not always very obvious to the people close most especially because the sufferers tend to be in denial, secretive or feel like they do not matter so try to hide their true struggles. But there is a way you can tease out things that could point to this mental struggle.

These people find it very difficult to accept compliments thrown towards them, they do not believe they deserve good things, they are always comparing themselves to others, they sabotage relationships easily, they tend to avoid the spotlight e.g., they stay away from leadership positions or anything that could make them the center of attention, they often have very low self-confidence, they are generally soft spoken and tend to keep to themselves most of the time, they have a negative view of themselves and that is what runs in their thoughts most of the time.

Many years ago, before life started to get serious, I had a certain mathematics teacher who took off time occasionally during his lessons to discuss issues to do with mental health and back then we were young and did not really take them seriously because you know we did not have so many worries then. But the topic that caught my attention the most was the issues to do with self-insufficiency. He would say that this vice called inferiority complex would consume you and make you underperform in all aspects of life, cause depression and anxiety disorders and it is very important to identify indicators and seek the aid early enough before it gets to the extreme. A few years later another teacher of mine who was more like a mentor talked so much about how you could fight mental inferiority complex by fighting off the negative thoughts with affirmative speech which has no fault but the thing with true inferiority complex is that these people do not believe anything good about themselves unless its seconded by another party on multiple occasions so that approach doesn’t seem to be fruitful. If you have any of the indicators of this serious issue, you need some therapy such as talk therapy; get supportive friends, if it’s associated with other mental disorders see a mental health professional.

This concept is very broad and I don’t think I can explore it in its entirety. But I do hope that it has been an eye opener for everyone.


Ejoku George William.

George is a third year medicine and surgery student at Makerere University and is passionate about improvement of mental health care provision

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *