Inferiority Complex: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Someone To Develop An Inferiority Complex?

If someone is in a position where they don’t feel capable and see themselves being less than others, it might not occur to them that this could be due to what took place whilst they were at school. There is even the chance that they are not consciously aware of this, with it being something that is just outside of their awareness.

However, if they are not aware of this, it is still going to be something that will have an impact on their life. How they see themselves will shape their professional life and how they feel, for instance.

One Area

When it comes to the former, it can mean that they will do something for a living that is not very fulfilling. This can be seen as the only thing that they can do, which is why they have to simply tolerate it.

Or, they could do something that they enjoy and be good at it, but they might not take the next step. One could then be far too qualified to do what they do and be more than ready to go to the next level.


There may have been at least one moment when they took a leap forward, only to end up right back where they started or close to it. This could be because they didn’t try hard enough and let it slip away.

Or, they may have unconsciously done something that would stop them from being able to move forward. For example, they may have got into an argument with someone or turned up late.

Inner World

As for how they feel, they could sometimes feel low and depressed, and, at other times, they could feel anxious and on edge. They won’t be happy with their life and they could believe that someone will expose them, so it’s not a surprise that they will often feel this way.

Nonetheless, part of them could believe that they are capable of achieving far more and see themselves as being nowhere near their potential. Consequently, one is likely to experience a fair amount of inner conflict.

A Mismatch

On one side, there is going to be what one is actually contributing and how capable they are, and, on the other side, there is going to be how one sees what they are contributing and how incapable they believe they are. What is clear is that their self-image won’t match up with who they really are.

Still, there is likely to have been a time in their life when they were not very capable or found it hard to express themselves. This stage of their life would have left a big mark on them.

An important Time

This could relate to the stage of their life that was described as industry vs. inferiority by Erik Erikson. From the age of 6 to 12, they would have started to develop new relationships with friends and teachers, learn new skills, and develop a sense of achievement.

If this stage had gone well, it would have played a part in them being able to get on well with others, to develop a positive view of themselves, and feel competent. This would have played a key part in them being able to be both happy and successful as an adult.

A Challenging Time

Instead of this stage going well, they might have found it hard to form relationships with others and, even if this wasn’t the case, it might have been hard for them to learn and to achieve anything. Thanks to this, they may have felt inadequate and like a failure throughout this time.

This would have set them up to develop a negative self-image and to see themselves as anything but competent. To say that this was a frustrating and painful time in their life would probably be an understatement.

What Was Going On?

There are a number of reasons as to why this stage of their life was so difficult. They may have had learning difficulties that were not recognised, thereby preventing them from receiving the support that they needed, or, their parents may have been going through a divorce.

Then again, they may have been in a traumatised state and unable to fully show up and focus on their education. In other words, their priority at this stage of their life may have just been to survive, having very little energy to do anything else.

One Big Battle

In their home environment, they may have often been abused and/or neglected and they might have had very little, if any, support or encouragement from their caregiver/s. Before they even entered the education system, then, they may have felt totally worthless and incapable.

Their developing nervous system and brain would have had a lot to deal with and it might have rarely been possible for them to concentrate and to take anything in. Most of their time at school and home may have been spent in a dissociated state, unable to embrace the present moment and to take life in.

One Thing After Another

Given what they were going through at this stage of their life, it is to be expected that their time in the education system wasn’t very fruitful. Even so, these experiences and the meaning that their mind made out of them would have formed their view of themselves.

If they could go back in time, they would see that they were in a bad way and this affected their ability to learn and to jump through the hoops that were provided. Taking this into account, the truth is that they are not incapable, incompetent or inferior to anyone else.


If one can relate to this and they are ready to change their life, they may need to reach out for external support. This is that something can be provided with the assistance of a therapist or healer.

General Ideas

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