The Napoleon Complex

15 Feb

My husband has a very short male boss.  When we describe his behavior to people, we use the term “Napoleon Complex” to clearly identify what kind of guy this is.

In my husband’s bosses case, he happens to be a relatively wealthy guy who mistreats his employees and brags about his money a lot.  Since he is a particularly short man (5’5), we joke that he must have “The Napoleon Complex”.

But what exactly is “The Napolean Complex” and is this a real psychological disorder?

According to Wikipedia ( Napoleon Complex), Napoleon was average height for his time period and that this proclaimed “complex” seems to be a myth due to various studies done that seem to disprove that short men are more aggressive than taller men.  Wikipedia mentions only one  professor, Professor Abraham Buunk of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands that according to his study done at the University, men who were 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) were 50 % more likely to show signs of jealousy than men who were 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in).  Other various sociological experiments have shown that there are several advantages to being tall in attracting a mate, and the small man syndrome is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation.

Today I was talking to one of my husband’s co-workers about their boss.  This co-worker happens to be a short man as well and he brought up the concept of the “Napolean Complex”.  He informed me that this was a real complex that short man all over have and it comes from the fact that they have always felt inferior to other men because of their height.  He said that there is actually statistics that short men don’t get jobs as easily as tall men and they clearly have more problems getting women.

He insisted that there is not a short man alive that does not feel inferior because of his height.  I found this to be fascinating because who would think that the issue of height could affect someone so deeply, let alone most men.  In fact, I was shocked to hear that this particular guy admitted having this “complex” because he actually seems to be a quite confidant and level headed person – not a person that really puts so much stock into a silly, natural and non-negotiable physical characteristic like height.

This guy also said something else that I found interesting that cleared up my confusion on the subject.  He explained that he understood from a young age that his height was going to be a disadvantage to him for the rest of his life, so instead of reacting to it…he used it to his advantage.  He decided from the age of 13 that he would make it his business to use his intelligence as his defense – and not his fists or his mouth.

He made a conscious decision that his confidence was going to come from his mind and not something external.

This is a lesson we all should take notes from.  I am not a short man and I will never know what it is like to be a short man in a world that is partial to height (for whatever reason)………but I am a woman with my own physical limitations (just like every human in the world has) and I have to learn that my physical limitations should in no way impair my mental abilities.

I don’t know if there truly is a condition called the “Napoleon” Complex…..but I do know that there is a condition called the “I don’t look like everyone says I should so I am not as good as they are” Complex…..

…..and the cure is an easy one…….realize that you are not your body……you are your mind.

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6 responses to “The Napoleon Complex

  1. Cheryl Baumgartner

    February 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    It’s funny but now that you mention it, It reminds me when I was still active duty in the military that we had a couple of guys in my unit the we called ‘chihuahuas’. They were both short and the most gung-ho out of everybody. We used to say that they were overcompensating because they were shorter than the rest of the guys.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 17, 2012 at 4:53 am

      Yeah, it is kind of funny that it is a real complex. My interest was the fact that this guy who I was talking to didn’t seem to have a complex…but he was the one who told me that ALL short men have complexes. It is a complex of the worst kind because height is not a physical trait that can be altered – you have got to learn to live with it and I guess most short guys decide to compensate by acting obnoxious.

  2. Miss Lego

    February 17, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Well, I have seen cases like this and it is as simple as the fact that people wants to compensate the lack of something by having this kind of behavior, exagerating most of the cases which makes them look ridicolous of course….it’s human nature.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 17, 2012 at 4:56 am

      Exactly…human nature. I found this particular complex somewhat interesting because I never thought about what it must feel like to be a short man in a world that attributes strength (the equivalent of a woman’s beauty to a man) to height. I never thought about how something that I would presume to be eventually forgotten – because it simply cannot be helped – to be as character molding as it is.

  3. paul

    June 24, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    i agree it might exist but only with some people. I was also fascinated by this topic, since a i am 22 years old and 5 feet 6 myself. i think height is not really important except only when it comes to girls lol. i work with tall guys like 6 foot 3 and they are my friends. its pretty intimidating sometimes and u look at them in the mirror and then i look at my self and i say damn life is unfair, i wanted to be 6 foot 3 also. but u have to accept what life gives u, because u have no other options. Since height is not correlated with intelligence, being tall or short doesn’t really matter unless u want to become a basketball player. If i was intelligent i wouldn’t mind being short but because i am not intelligent sometimes i get kind of sad .i mean its ok tto have flaws like being short and at least have something else like intelligence to make up for it u know

    • Peaceful Controversy

      June 27, 2012 at 12:43 am

      Don’t ever talk about yourself like that. EVERYBODY has intelligence. You may not WANT to become a rocket scientist….but you are highly intelligent in whatever your G-d given specialty is – which is only unique to you…..that is intelligence.


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