People With A 'Superman (Or Superwoman) Complex' Share 8 Smug Traits

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superman-esque man holding glasses

Everyone wanted to be a superhero when they were a child. We dreamed of growing up with superpowers that caused people to look to us when they needed help.

As we grew up, most of us came to realize that saving everyone was impossible. However, some people still exhibit a Superman complex.

They think they are the most knowledgeable about everything and are best equipped to handle every situation. This person may feel a constant need to save others and take on other people’s work because they believe they are the only one who can do it right.

What is a Superman complex?

The term "Superman complex" was first coined by Dr. Frederic Wertham in his 1954 book, "Seduction of the Innocent," and his later testimony in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency.

A Superman complex is an unhealthy sense of responsibility of the belief that everyone else lacks the capacity to successfully perform routine tasks.

People with a Superman complex, or Superwoman syndrome, feel invincible and infallible, never believing that failure is a possibility for them. They have a burning desire to fix everyone else because they are just fine.

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Wertham claimed that children reading superman comic books were exposed to “phantasies of sadistic joy” in which they enjoyed seeing other people punished repeatedly while they remained safe and secure from danger.

This was different from the savior complex, where people might have intervened. In this case, they stood idly by, watching, and loving the abuse taking place.

In business, this can show up like a god complex, with CEOs believing they are untouchable and engaging in power-hungry tactics that eventually come back to bite them.

What causes a Superman complex?

The Superman complex stems from a distrust of others. It is a belief that you have the perfect way of doing things and any other way is errant. You believe that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

People with a Superman complex tend to take on a heavy workload and have a hard time delegating tasks for fear it will result in failure, which is a devastating and worst case scenario outcome for them.

So, they throw themselves into work to make sure that their flawless reputation for performing is not tarnished by a perceived "underling."

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8 Signs You Have A Superman Complex

1. Failure is not an option for you.

People with a Superman complex fully expect to succeed in every venture they take part in. Rather than calculating and preparing for inevitable risk, they believe they are immune to the trappings of business, and that failure cannot and will not be part of their lives.

2. You consider everyone else to be just 'average.'

If you have a Superman complex, you truly believe there is something special about you that sets you apart from everyone else. You believe you have heightened powers that others don’t and are capable of nearly impossible feats.

3. The rules don’t apply to you.

You know the rules but have no intention of adhering to them. A Superman complex leads you to think you are above the law and any repercussions that might come with it.

Of course, everyone else should follow the rules because they don’t have the same privileges as you.

4. You believe everyone should kneel at your feet.

Unofficial "Supermen" are of the opinion that everyone in the world owes them a debt of gratitude for the immeasurable contributions. They are strong believers in their own greatness and see mediocre people as fans who should shower them with praise and adulation.

5. You must help everyone, even if they don’t ask.

A Superman complex can have you sticking your nose in places it does not belong. You place the needs of others before your own because you want to be seen as heroic and often find yourself burned out.

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6. There is always a new challenge to handle.

You take pride in overachieving, and no matter how many wins you have, you will never be satisfied. There is always something new to do and more to accomplish, so you have trouble enjoying your victories.

7. You strive for perfection.

Superman didn’t have any flaws and, since you see yourself in the same way, neither do you. At least that’s what you want the world to think, so you are obsessed with perfectionism and are unable to accept anything less for yourself.

8. You are always 'on.'

Those who have a Superman complex don’t have the ability to use downtime to heal and recover. They are always in the midst of solving a problem, fixing someone else, or trying to soar to higher heights.

How To Deal With A Superman Complex

To begin managing a Superman or Superwoman complex, trust in others is necessary. It won’t be easy since you have likely not done it before, so begin by trusting but verifying.

Once you are confident in people around you, it will make it much easier to share the workload. If you see knowledge gaps in others, teach them what you know.

Trust the process without worrying about the outcome. Do the work that needs to be done and trust that the universe will deliver success. The Law of Detachment dictates that you can achieve greatness by being intentional, acting, then letting go and believing in your work.

Self-care is a must for anyone who wants to live up to their best potential. You are not responsible for everyone in the world. To be a true superhero, demonstrate the importance of being mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, who specializes in content about self-care, self-love, self-enlightenment, interpersonal relationships, and personalities. She strives to deliver informative and entertaining news you can use to help navigate life.