Website owner:  James Miller

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Walking away from an inferiority complex

In my younger years, up to perhaps age 35, I was plagued by an inferiority complex. (The complex was likely caused by the fact that I had always been abnormally slow in everything and slow people are viewed in our society as mentally inferior. And also by the practice in schools of grading people in levels of mental superiority or inferiority using IQ tests, an idea that made me really angry.) This inferiority complex had the effect of creating a deep inner need to prove myself. So in school I took all the most difficult subjects, the ones most difficult to understand, those hardest for me: mathematics, physics, chemistry, etc. And I wasn’t just interested in knowing the subjects well enough to get good marks. I was attracted to the logic in all the proofs (especially in mathematics). I had a psychological need to understand clearly each step in every proof. And this exercise in thoroughly understanding every proof was time consuming. And it is especially time consuming and frustrating if the textbooks you are using are poor, if the authors of the textbooks are careless and indifferent in their presentation and explanation. I always had a lot of questions and would often have to refer to other textbooks to find answers to my questions. Anyway, for years I was trying to prove something. I was trying to ditch my inferiority complex by driving myself to more accomplishment, trying to prove myself to myself. But the strategy never worked. The inferiority complex kept me pushing on and on, I kept trying and trying to prove myself, but there was no lessening of the inferiority complex. I was unhappy, confused and all hung up on my personal problem. I felt caught like a fly in a spider’s web. What was the way out? I don’t know how many times I asked myself that question. I kept trying to analyze my problem, analyze my way out of my problem. This went on for years. But finally I did, one day, walk out of the darkness of that ugly room, out through a door into the light of day. What happened? How did I do that?! The answer was something that was outside the box. I would have never solved my problem by analyzing. I didn’t solve my problem by thought or figuring it out. I found the solution by accident. The answer was a change in attitude. I realize now that my entire problem was one of attitude and outlook. The answer was in realizing that what is important in life is not how intelligent you are, it is how good you are. Goodness is the measure of a person. My mistake had been in looking at life wrongly, looking at myself wrongly. I had become hung up on trying to find my way out of the problem, my problem had become a mental obsession, and that obsession had had the effect of causing me to lose perspective and balance. Once I had ditched the problem I suddenly had perspective and balance. And perspective and balance lie at the heart of mental health. In fact, one might say that a main cause of the problem was my continued obsession with it. The answer lie in forgetting it. I was mentally able to do that once I realized that intelligence wasn’t important. Forgetting it didn’t mean just accepting the idea that I was inferior. I had too much pride and sense to do that. In fact, what is intelligence? There are all kinds of intelligence, all kinds of mental abilities. Some people have more of some kinds and others have more of other kinds. We all have our mental strengths and weaknesses. The idea dreamed up by psychiatrists of measuring a person’s mind with a number called IQ is wrong — morally wrong and logically foolish.

Jan 2017

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