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Saturday April 29th 2017

Do You Have a Napoleon Complex?

Do You Have a Napoleon Complex?

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Named after the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte who was said to have compensated for his short stature by seeking war, power and conquest, the Napoleon Complex is perhaps the most persistently referenced inferiority complex attributed to men; especially short men. Ironically enough, Napoleon was actually average height for his time (about 5 ft 7), and misconceptions about his height are due to incorrect height conversions between French and English units. Still, the term remains as an explanation for overly driven or aggressive men who seemingly compensate for falling short in other areas (usually height). But don't worry; a Napoleon Complex is only a colloquial term and not an actual mental disorder - so while you may not have an actual Napoleon Complex, you may have some other very real issues.

The Facts

It is a common misunderstanding that small men are at risk of developing a Napoleon Complex. Scientific study has shown that short men, in general, do not have an inclination towards aggressive behaviour and that small aggressive men are the exceptions to the rule, not the generalization. Possessing a handicapping trait (perceived or real) will not lead to an inferiority complex, increased aggression or increased competitiveness. Physical size does not seem to negatively influence mental functioning or social behaviour. Usage of the term Napoleon Complex in scientific study describes specific species examples of males who are small and overly aggressive towards larger rivals when a contested resource value is high, such as a breeding territory, and the cost of not aggressing is losing the resource with certainty. In common language, however, proper usage of the term involves describing case examples of men who are small and unreasonably overly aggressive or competitive.

Signs of a problem

While the term may describe small, aggressive, power-seeking men, in reality anyone who cannot accept occasional defeat (especially over trivial matters) or has a constant desire to compete has a problem. These individuals will seemingly do anything and stop at nothing to get what they want in the workplace, gym, and/or bedroom - even if it means lying, spreading rumours, manipulating or even harming others who may stand in their way. They often lose sight of their real goals and get caught up with what others are doing. They may loathe when others do well and feel happy when others fail, especially if it provides room for them to shine. Most importantly, they view others, even friends and teammates, as opponents and get really upset whenever they don't win. We've all been told to do 'our best', but for some there seems to be a real difficulty with setting goals and going after them in a healthy competitive way without having to compromising ethics, health or relationships.

Getting over it

If you think you might have a problem with over aggression or competition, you probably do. Being overly competitive, aggressive or constantly needing to feel validated or better than others is unhealthy and detrimental to your overall well-being and negatively affects those around you. If you find you have a problem with negative self-talk, either publicly or privately, then addressing it is a good place to start. Changing your negative self-talk is a very effective way to begin fixing your self-image, which directly influences the way you act. As you get more comfortable accepting yourself for who you are (flaws included) you can begin actively thinking about how you can be of help and benefit to others. Think about the well-being of team, not just about being the best. It is okay and healthy to lose once in a while, so when you do, don't be a sore loser. Accept your shortcomings and don't be afraid to ask for assistance if necessary. Getting over your issues is key to living a happier, healthier life and maintaining vibrant, meaningful relationships.




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