Personality Complexes: Understanding Different Sides of Yourself

Personality Complexes: Understanding Different Sides of Yourself


In the field of psychology, Personality is a huge topic. Many Psychologists presented their theories of personality to explaining the psychology of humans. They did this because they wanted to help people and they could do this only when they knew how several processes contribute to forming personality. Trait theory is one of the theory of personality. Let’s explore the intricate world of personality complexes, where deep-rooted psychological patterns and behaviors intertwine

Now days big five personality traits are, in practice to understand the person’s personality. Originally developed in 1949, the Big 5 personality traits is a theory established by D. W. Fiske and later expanded upon by other researchers, including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987). These 5 traits are Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Openness, Extraversion and Conscientiousness.

What is personality?

Personality is the end result of many dynamic processes. With time and experience it changes as well. But the core traits of personality is hard to change. It can change only through persistent intervention or effort and major life events. These core personality traits determine person’s perception, behaviour and relationship in life. Each individual is unique mix of different personality’s traits.

“Personality refers to the enduring characteristics and behaviour that comprise a person’s unique adjustment to life, including major traits, interests, drives, values, self-concept, abilities, and emotional patterns.”

American Psychological Association

What is the main source of personality formation?

People know that each individual is unique but how? It’s because personality is made up of Genes, environment in which person lived and his life situations. All these elements of person’s life work together to form his/her personality. Two people can’t have exactly similar elements that’s why each individual is unique due to his main source of personality.

As the personality grows person develops some complex in their personality as well. Which guides person’s behaviour and aspirations in life. Each individual have different personalities and different type of complexes in them with different level of intensity. But these complexes can be categorized on the basis of their theme. Let’s first understand what complexes in Personality are.

What is complex?

The complex is a structure in the unconscious mind. Which is made for maintaining the stability of self from the threats. To protect the self, the unconscious mind creates a group of thoughts, emotions, feelings, and memories of similar themes such as Power status.

According to the American Psychological Association: The American Psychological Association defines complexes as a group or system of related ideas or impulses that have a common emotional tone and exert a strong but usually unconscious influence on the individual’s attitudes and behaviour.

What is complex according to Jung:

Jung described a complex as a node in the unconscious; it may be imagined as a knot of unconscious feelings and beliefs, detectable indirectly, through behaviour that is puzzling or hard to account for.

The major type’s of personality complexes:

1) Martyr Complex:

Person experiencing this complex, is ready to serve others or sacrifice for other at any point of time. They create such situations when they can help or work for other and pretends that situation is not in their hand. That’s why they are doing what they are doing. They want to be the Heroes of others life an in their own eyes too.

Signs of this complex in personality-
  • Because of poor self-respect they do not appreciate their own good work or efforts.
  • Such people search for situation in which they can help others and become hero.
  • As they serve others and it consumes their time such people give less time to their sleep, health and hygiene.
  • Such people are high in devotion for other’s and hardly say no to any task or responsibility.
How to reduce this complex:
  • Doing self-care effort fully. Such as taking health and hygiene seriously and creating a fix time to do this.
  • Being in contact with people who give importance to self-care and self-respect.
  • Decide when to say no and talk to family members about your clear boundaries.
  • Reduce high expectations with the help of developing a better understanding of human behavior.
2) Guilt Complex:

Every person commits mistakes knowingly or unknowingly. But some people give so much emphasis to this and believe that they do or they are doing mistakes often or most of the time. This lead of sense of embarrassment and anxiety. It becomes hard for them to focus on task or get involved completely due to fear of committing mistakes.

Signs of this complex in personality:
  • Person feels guilty in any situation.
  • They can hate themselves for committing mistakes
  • They can feel they are good for nothing.
  • Unable to focus on work.
  • The intensity of guilt is so high that it affects person’s mental health and self-respect.
  • What to hurt themselves for committing mistakes or sometimes get suicidal thoughts.
Ways to reduce this complex in personality:
  • Treat yourself as human. Who can commit mistakes and learn to forget them?
  • Focusing on what good they have done in a day or in a week.
  • Effort fully notices the positive side of their action and thoughts.
  • Take the help of any professional, if feel the intensity is too high.
3) Madonna Whore Complex:

This complex is more prevent in men than women. In this complex person perceives women on two different extremes.

  1. Saintly spirit (Madonna)
  2. Sex worker or bad Character lady (Whore)

People suffering from this complex feels sexually aroused by whore, but can’t get married to such women as they do not hold a good reputation in society. So they get married to lady who holds a Saintly spirit for them, but they do not feel sexually aroused for them. In short, they love someone they can’t get intimate with and want to be intimate with someone, whom they do not love. This affects their life and relationships as well.

How to reduce this complex in personality:

  • First of all person has to accept that he/ she is suffering with this problem.
  • Person has to control his impossible desires.
  • Both Partners can talk about their sexual preferences openly to get a better understanding of what they want.
  • Also understanding that they are not responsible for this complex. It’s a learned behavior because of the exposure.
4) Superiority complexes:

Superiority complexes were first identified by Alfred Adler, an early psychologist, in his theory of individual psychology. According to him Superiority complex is form of reaction formation to hide deep low self-esteem. Such people believe that they have better achieved, Skills and abilities then other people. Because of this they can be mean to people around them. They have high self-esteem, which lead to this complex.

What to do to reduce Superiority complex:
  • Do self-reflection and make a list of accomplishments.
  • Avoid doing black and white thinking such as perceiving things too good or too bad.
  • Find balance in perception or effort, and fully do realistic perception.
  • Be grateful and happy for others accomplishments.
  • If making mistakes be acceptable to mistake and don’t be very harsh oneself.
5) Inferiority Complex:

Inferiority Complex is about feeling of inadequacy, worthlessness and inferiority to other’s. Person can experience Inferiority Complex due to past experience, constant social comparing, poor self-esteem, self-doubt and person view. According to Adler, childhood traumas like abuse, neglect, and criticism may cause inadequate emotions to grow. In short it’s about feeling lower then people around you. Such people don’t need a person in reality to feel bad about themselves. They can imagine a scenario where they are feeling inferior of full of doubt.

How to reduce Inferiority Complex:
  • Self-appreciation is required to feel better. So practicing self-appreciation can work.
  • Self-reflection will help them a lot to figure out why the feel the way they feel. Knowing the reason will make them see reality clearly.
  • Listing down things they are grateful for.
  • practicing activities based on enhancing self-esteem.
7) Oedipus Complex and Electra complex

this completed is seen in boys. This completed was first described by Sigmond Frued in this personality development theory. Oedipus is a Greek word. This work is related to the Greek myth of Oedipus, who knowingly killed his father and marriage her mother, for fulfilled the prophecy.
In this complex child has rivalry feeling for same sex Partner and feel attracted towards another sex parent. This complex leads to gender identification. This is a very controversial theory given by Frued and as lacks empirical evidences.

It is opposite of Oedipus complex. This complex is seen in girl child. In this girl child feel attracted towards father and has rivalry feeling for same sex parents. Resolve of this complex leads to gender identification.

Personality is directed by these complexes. People can work and improve on these complexes with the help of self-awareness and professional support if needed.

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