The idea of a 'Napoleon Complex’ was first put forward by Alfred Adler in 1912 claiming that short men are domineering and overly-aggressive to somehow compensate for their height and has since taken root.
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First off, if there was to be a "complex" with short guys and you need a name for it, picking Napoleon is definitely not a good idea. At 5’ 7, Napoleon Bonaparte was taller than most of his contemporaries begging the question why would he need to "compensate"?
The Complex Hypocrisy
Given its current definition, Napoleon did not have a "Napoleon Complex". Ironic isn’t it? However, let us imagine that he was a short man, and that there is a correlation between height and personality. The same would then hold true for people on the opposite end of the spectrum. What does history have to say about tall men? Idi Amin was 6’ 4, Osama Bin Laden was 6’ 5, Saddam Hussein was 6’ 3, Fidel Castro is 6'1, Joseph Kony 6', and the list goes on. Also by contrast, remember that Martin Luther King Jr was 5’ 6 and Mahatma Gandhi was 5’ 3 ( again this list also goes on). This is not to say that tall men are villains or short men are perfect, rather just to point out that it makes no sense to attribute behavior to stature. As psychologist Dr. Glen Wilson said, “For every Napoleon, there’s an equally nasty Saddam Hussein.”
Plenty Of Dictators Throughout History Have Been Tall | Source: Wiki Commons
What Does The Research Say?
Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire conducted a study to determine whether height really does impact aggression. The result was that men of average height and above respond faster and more aggressively to provocation in comparison to short men - proving that "napoleon complex" is a myth. The lead researcher Dr. Mike Eslea explained that when people see a man who happens to be short being aggressive, they are likely to attribute the behavior to his height because it is an attribute that is noticed instantly and grabs attention. Similarly, the extensive Wessex Growth Study which followed 225 subjects for over three decades established that children who were shorter than average did not differ from other children in self-esteem, self-perception, attainment and behavior. Psychologically, height has no impact on character.
The Media Downplays Putin's Strengths By Accusing Him Of Having A Complex | Source: YouTube
So what are the alleged traits of Napoleon Complex? Aggression, control, dominance, self-importance, uncalled-for violence. Sound familiar? Probably because these are all traits typical of the big bullies at school and in the office who push around smaller men and then get mad if they feel like someone is trying to usurp their perceived superiority. Their behavior is however rarely linked to their size (despite the fact that bullies are usually larger than their victims), but somehow the short guy’s response is a result of his small size. The actions that started the situation are almost always ignored and people immediately leap to the "Napoleon Complex" or "Short Man Syndrome" excuse to further victimize the short guy.
Is There A Tall Man Syndrome?
If "syndromes" are to be determined by physical characteristics, why isn’t there a "tall man syndrome" for the really tall guys who have to slouch? Or a "skinny man syndrome"? How about a "pale skin syndrome" or "angry black woman syndrome"? It would be completely ridiculous to say, “You know why that guy is really mean and aggressive? It’s his blonde hair that’s to blame”, or “All black women are so angry and loud all of the time. It must because of their dark skin!" Well, saying that some guy behaves the way he does because of his diminutive height and diagnosing him with a "syndrome" because of it is equally ridiculous.
Syndromes Given To Other Groups Are Blamed On Society, Not The Group | Source: YouTube
Sure there are short guys who are mean, but just as this has nothing to do with their weight or skin color, it has nothing to do with their height. Sure some short men are aggressive and driven (as many men of all heights are) but this is because numerous studies have shown that short men have the odds stacked against them. What is the expected reaction to blatant heightism, rude remarks and snide comments?
The Inescapable Truth
Being short is one of the few physical attributes that people still believe it is okay to publicly mock. If we take it quietly we are weaklings and push-overs, if we choose to stand up for ourselves we suffer from a short man syndrome. Choosing not to be mistreated because of something you have no control over doesn’t mean you have a complex. It means you are human. Consider the odds stacked up against protected minorities and the charisma, persistence, thick skin and drive required to overcome some of life's unfortunate and ridiculous obstacles and closed doors. See any connection?
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Give Them What They Want
Because of rampant heightism, being short can be tough, and thus all short guys need to learn to be come self-assured and confident in their abilities. Speak up for yourself - That is not a complex. The "Napoleon Complex" is a myth created to justify heightism and promote discrimination. A person who does not like short guys for various unjustifiable reasons will blame it on this non-existent complex. It is a confirmation bias that is based on false stereotypes. Think about it, the next time a guy who isn't short acts aggressively, is very confident or driven, will it be because of a "Bin Laden Complex"?
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