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Reasonably wrong: The underground man’s inferiority complex

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The characteristics of inferiority complex.
    1. Sensitivity towards criticism.
    2. A hypercritical attitude.
    3. Inappropriate response to flattery.
    4. Feelings of persecution.
    5. Having negative feelings towards competition.
  3. Conflict raging within the Underground Man.
  4. Seclusiveness and timidity.
  5. An all consuming desire to be recognized as such by the eyes of society.
  6. Conclusion.

In Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground, desire is shown to be a more important force of human nature than reason by observing how the Underground Man makes decisions. Understanding that he suffers from an extreme case of inferiority complex is instrumental in being able to decipher the story without being influenced by the filtered view he tells it from. The Underground Man lives his life according to reason, his unnaturally high intelligence helps him rationalize almost every decision he makes which consequently leaves desire out of the equation. Although desire is an essential part of human life, the Underground Man can't take action on his own and serves as an example why a society isn't able to function when it makes decisions purely derived from reasoning. His inferiority complex allows him to overcome his desires to the point that they degenerate into only what he mildly wants. The seven prevalent characteristics of the complex, which have been published by stop depression, an online psychology resource clinic, are all apparent throughout the story and provide definitive evidence the Underground Man suffers from inferiority. The first characteristic of inferiority complex is sensitivity towards criticism. He perceives any form of criticism as a personal attack (Stop Depression).

[...] This is another example of how Dostoevsky uses the Underground Man to reversely show how a society would not be able to properly function if they placed reason over desire. Imagining a group of people that act similarly to the Underground Man is tough because it would be impossible for them to function in any way together. Although the Underground Man may be an extremely intelligent individual he contains an all consuming desire to be recognized as such by the eyes of society. [...]


[...] The next important characteristic of inferiority complex is a hypercritical attitude. Because the Underground Man doesn't feel good about himself, he can't feel good about anybody else and looks for shortcomings in them (Stop Depression). He strives to elevate himself by using his superior intellect to put others around him down. In this passage, the Underground Man is talking to his slave Apollon. He thinks Apollon is intentionally being difficult and starts getting angry. decided, heaven knows why or for what reason, to punish Apollon by not paying him his wages for two whole weeks. [...]


[...] The next important characteristic of inferiority complex is having negative feelings towards competition. When the Underground Man is thrust into a competitive situation, he immediately becomes very uncomfortable and defensive. When one is scared to compete against others, it means that they're scared of losing. Not coming in first place is seen as a failure (Stop Depression). At the Dinner party with Zverkov and several other old acquaintances from school, they begin attacking the Underground Man. He begins to feel as though he must respond to what they're saying and outdo them. [...]

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