What are Psychological Complexes and Which Ones are Most Well Known?

Sad woman

Often, in everyday speech, the psychoanalytic concept "complex" is not used for its actual definition, but as a synonym of low self-confidence and shyness.

A complex is a notion introduced by Carl Gustav Jung, which shows a subconscious reaction of a person, usually provoked by a traumatic memory from their past.

Complexes can be provoked by certain words or situations, which remind people who have not gotten over them of an unpleasant event in their past.


In most cases, complexes are created during childhood by the parents themselves.

Most often, children who have grown up show an inferiority complex, which was thoroughly studied by Alfred Adler. According to the doctor, this complex arises in the youngest age of a child, when the parents abuse the child due to a physical shortcoming or unattractiveness.

The expectations for the child to surpass its own abilities can also lead to the formation of the inferiority complex.

This complex can cause severe depression and speech impairment, while the children suffering from it often close themselves off and hide in their own illusions.

The superiority complex is the polar opposite of the inferiority complex. In a superiority complex, the parents urge the child to exaggerate certain character traits, in order to hide shortcomings.

Childhood problems

Seeking superiority also compels a person to seek attention at all costs, and if they don't receive it, their behavior becomes extremely aggressive.

The abandonment complex shows up when a child has not received enough love and has lived in seclusion. A person with this type of complex grows up convinced that they will never be loved and accepted as a person. This leads to torturous worries, and the person becomes overly critical and strict.

Among the most well-known psychological complexes is also the Oedipus complex, described by Sigmund Freud. The Oedipus complex develops in almost every child between the ages of 3 - 5 and is expressed by a great love toward the parent of the opposite sex and a hostile jealousy toward the other parent.

Parents' negative reactions to these childhood emotions can form a feeling of guilt in the child.

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