Inferiority and Oedipus Complex Tension
Common Health Issues

Inferiority and Oedipus Complex Tension

Complex is a group of ideas or feelings with significant emotional meaning to an individual. These ideas and feelings stem from the experience of the individual and have a strong influence on his personality.


The term complex is used in psychiatry in such expressions as inferiority complex and Oedipus complex


Inferiority Complex

Alfred Adler (1870—1937), an Austrian psychiatrist, held that a feeling of inferiority is at the root of all personality disorders. This feeling may be a reaction to a physical handicap, real or imagined, or to a conflict with society that prevents the individual from fulfilling his desires.


As a result of his inferiority complex, the individual attempts to overcompensate for his failings. The undersized person who develops an aggressive, domineering trait is a familiar type.


Napoleon is a well-known example; the Napoleonic complex, a type of inferiority complex, has been named for him. Feelings of inferiority may lead to a Psychoneurosis or to constructive, socially valuable activity, as in the case of the puny youngster who builds himself into an extraordinary vigorous, masculine adult


Oedipus Complex

Sigmund Freud (1856—1939), the founder of Psychoanalysis, introduced this term to describe what he regarded as a stage in the development of every young boy: deep love for his mother and hatred for his father.


Oedipus, according to Greek mythology, was a man who unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. In a girl, there may be hatred for the mother and love for the father; the female Oedipus complex is sometimes known as an Electra complex.


Freud held that people normally outgrew the Oedipus complex early in adolescence, and he sought to explain various psychiatric problems in adults as a failure to develop beyond the Oedipal stage.


It is perfectly normal for a child to favor one parent over the other; but in some persons, the favoritism exists in an exaggerated, neurotic form, requiring treatment by psychotherapy.


The theories of Freud, Adler, and other early psychoanalysts have enjoyed an immense popular vogue, and the word ‘complex,’ is often used loosely by amateur psychologists to account for all kinds of puzzling behavior. Applying such a label, of course, explains nothing and helps nobody.



Tension is a word commonly used to refer to nervous strain. People are tense in various ways.


Some express their reaction to strain in repeated outbursts of anger or constant irritability. Others repress their feelings but brood or worry endlessly about their problems.


In some persons, repressed tensions may produce physical effects such as backache, cramps, diarrhea, excruciating headaches, peptic ulcer and other disorders.


Why Are We Tense

We are born into a world in which it is difficult not to experience repeated frustrations and tensions. As infants, we have needs and desires. When these are not satisfied promptly by our parents, we experience our first tensions.


In adulthood, the pressures become severe. We must compete for friends, love, jobs, advancement and social standing. Often we have to work in a less than ideal environment full of noise and distraction.

Inevitably, everyone is exposed to tension in one form or another. Some are fortunate enough to have learned in childhood how to tolerate it successfully. However, there are ways that will help virtually anyone to ease the stresses of day-to-day life.


Living with Tension

Physical activity is an excellent outlet for tension. Swimming, cycling or other vigorous activities are helpful, but even walking provides relief.

The person who is bored or frustrated by her job should find a different type of activity for her spare time; she may enjoy playing a musical instrument or taking up photography. Weekend trips helps to get away from daily routines.


The person who is withdrawn and broods about his tension should find someone with whom he can discuss his problems. Normally, a husband or wife is a natural counselor. However, an old friend or a clergyman may be able to offer helpful advice.


If one’s problems are too severe to be handled in this way, it is worth looking into the possibility of obtaining the assistance of a psychiatrist, psychologist or other counsellor. In this case, the first step should be a frank discussion with your family doctor.

Sources and References

Reader’s Digest Family Health Guide and Medical Encyclopedia

Oedipus and the Oedipus complex: A Revision by Siegfried Zepf, Burkhard Ullrich and Dietmar Seel


Rich Health Editorial Team

Health Research

Rich Health Editorial Team is made up of medical practitioners and experienced writers who provide information for dealing with health issues in a simple and easy-to-understand manner