Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, Notes from Underground, centers on an anonymous narrator who shows signs of an inferiority complex and as a result becomes preoccupied with his own purpose and self worth. He becomes so obsessed with adding meaning to his life that fantasies often take over in order to add drama to situations. Evidence of this is found in his fantasized interaction with a certain officer, in his hysterical and overly dramatic clash with a friend, and in his idealized relationship with a prostitute, Liza. These interactions are critical to understanding what drove this man to isolation. Due to being afflicted with an inferiority complex, these incidents build up until this final interaction with Liza stresses the Underground Man to the limit and forces him to retreat underground.
[...] The Underground Man goes on to fantasize about confronting the officer who ignored him. In this fantasy he writes a letter to the officer, begging him to apologize. He then goes on to imagine the officer's response and fantasizes that they will become close friends. This fantasy goes on for pages before he dismisses the prospect. Lin explains that those afflicted with an inferiority complex compensate for this using several defense mechanisms. One of the more common forms of compensation is to retreat from reality, where the subject substitutes fantasy (Lin 7). [...]
[...] She then gives a look that the Underground Man describes as look of children when they are asking for something from somebody they love. Hers were hazel eyes, full of life and capable of reflecting both love and sullen hatred” (Dostoyevsky 101). His berating and making her feel worthless results in her dependence on him. An inferiority complex often presents with a disorder known as Histrionic Disorder. In a summary of Histrionic Personality Disorder, Dr. Phillip Long Ph.D. notes that those diagnosed with Histrionic Personality Disorder seek to control their partner through emotional manipulation or seductiveness on one level, whereas displaying a marked dependency on them at another level.” Also, characteristic of this disorder is the compulsion to play out a role, as those diagnosed crave novelty (Long). [...]
[...] The Underground Man responds with a challenge to duel but those at the dinner party laugh at the idea and publicly acknowledge that he is drunk. In the mind of the Underground Man, this is the greatest offense: to trivialize such a challenge by attributing it to the effects of alcohol. He continues to ask the men to duel, thinking it the only way to redeem himself from such humiliation and make peace. The men again scoff at the Underground Man and head off to a brothel. [...]
[...] The inferiority complex of the Underground Man causes the interactions of every day life to become too overwhelming to handle, so that the only way to find a bit of peace is to isolate himself and avoid these interactions entirely. He is unable to have a healthy relationship with his friends because he constantly seeks attention and becomes hysterical when he feels unappreciated. Social situations, such as at the dinner party, that would seem casual and could be brushed off by the average person seem detrimental to the Underground Man. [...]
[...] The Underground Man spends most of his energy trying to gain acknowledgment from others and find his worth. The Underground Man becomes especially frustrated when he feels that others are not recognizing his intelligence. This is when his fantasizing and hysterical episodes are triggered. He debates philosophical matters with an imaginary opponent and takes pleasure in teaching them and proving them wrong. He considers himself to be much more intelligent than others in society and when he removes himself from a real society, he imagines passing on this knowledge to those less educated. [...]
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