Posted by: Jess Riley | October 30, 2008

Short Man, Middle Child, and Other Such Syndromes

To start with, I’d like to point out that I have a very busy schedule today and the next couple of days, so I only barely have enough time to make this post. Sorry, guys! I’ll try my best to keep you posted.

The other day, I was talking to Sean about his last Humans post and asked me what I thought of the idea. I considered his idea, before I disagreed. It’s not, I don’t think, that humans as a whole have a superiority complex the size of something really big, that “winners don’t question their ability”, or that anything that they aren’t the best at isn’t worth two bits, but that humans are more likely to have a mass inferiority complex.

Of course, he challenged me to state why I thought that they could act so arrogant and yet feel so inferior, when I happened upon a train of thought. Now, I’m not trying to say that humans do fit this mold – this was just a track on my train of thought that I decided to pursue, while thinking about superiority/inferiority.

Short Man Syndrome, probably more properly known as a Napoleon Complex is the name we give to short people acting overtly aggressive towards people who are physically larger than they are. Although studies have shown that this probably isn’t a significant effect and, in fact, that taller people are statistically more likely to lose their tempers (what? I don’t invent these studies!), it’s become part of the common parlance and the common mindset. When we see a short or small person buffing up, acting aggressively, bragging about his sexual prowess, making lewd and lascivious remarks to women, we roll our eyes and go, “Ah, Short Man Syndrome.”

Well, maybe you don’t, but let’s pretend we do.

Now, this alleged syndrome/complex, which in fairness probably doesn’t exist outside our minds, is an inferiority complex characterised by aggression and cockiness. No, really – think about it. They’re trying to look arrogant, but it’s all based in inferiority.

Now consider the humans, at tallest about six and a half feet tall – again, I’m not saying they do all have Short Man Syndrome, but it was an interesting line of thought – compared to the night elves, average male height seven feet tall, and the draenei, average male height seven and a half feet tall. It may not look like much in game, but these guys are physically looking up at these two other races. It may be balanced out a bit by having to physically look down at the dwarves and gnomes – but really. Surely some of the humans are intimidated by the size of these big races.

Alternatively, just consider that the human height range is about 4’10” to 6’6″. Imagine being a human at either end of this scale, trying to communicate with other humans. Not a lot of fun, that!

Now, of course, I tell this to Sean, and he jokes, “Maybe they have Middle Child Syndrome.”

Oh, really? You want to go there? Fine.

Middle child syndrome refers to the tendency of a family of three (the archetypal example, but it applies in all cases with a middle child) to have the oldest being given special privileges because of age, the youngest being spoiled because they’re the youngest, and the middle child to feel different or left out of the family dynamic.

Whether it actually exists is also questionable, but there’s certainly a whole tonne of anecdotal evidence for middle children feeling left out or ignored in a family unit.

Of course, humans don’t, as a rule, have middle child syndrome about the Alliance. That would be silly. But since Sean brings it up: consider Short Man Sydnrome and Middle Child Syndrome in your characters. They don’t really exist as psychological disorders or constructs, but they’re archetypal examples of character types that you could make use of to make your character just that bit more interesting/unique.


  1. Using the Napoleon Complex, is definitely a simple and recognizable way to show anyone how someone can feel inferior while simultaneously acting arrogant, if not superior. I definitely probably would of brought it up, if I had gone really in-depth with the comment I made previously, that has seemed to spark a bit of debate amongst you over human psychology. And debate is always a good thing, as long as it doesn’t get out of control.

    However, to me we are all kind of right on this issue. Because I look at it a bit like this. On the one hand, as humanity got out there and met all these other races with superior ability in a certain field, this of course made them feel inferior as anyone in their position would. And this feeling of inferiority be it conscious or subconscious, big or small, resulted in humans wanting to achieve. To become even greater than they are, to push their limits, to grew out of the shadow of their teachers as I put it previously. And we see this in their desire for dominion, to conquer, to grew more knowledgeable, to spread as much as they can across the world and call if not claim it as their own. As well as the racial trait the Human Spirit, which is the result in part due to their desire to grew in the face of adversity, both physical & mental and their strong confidence for succeeding in doing so.

    Now enter Sean’s viewpoint, which is that they are an arrogant, over confident, proud and superior feeling race. And in many ways this is true, but this attitude is more a result of the inherent inferiority they felt before becoming the powerhouses we know them to be today.

    In simplest terms, you can look at them as athletes. They start out nothing too important, even with natural talent. But in time, they become stronger, faster..etc because of their feelings of inferiority to other athletes who are significantly better than them, even looking to sports heroes as examples of what they want to be (which be humans looking to the other races who have pretty much mastered something they want to be good at like magic). So through adversity, through pressure from both themselves and even others to succeed, to be better, they become better. And once they get real good, then they will start to grew very confident, even arrogant. Some of which get so bad, they’ll think they are vastly superior to others, that they can’t do no wrong, that if they can’t do something well, they cope by not thinking its too important.

    So humans saw they were inferior in certain fields to other races and decided to achieve and to grew out of the shadow of these races like a younger child would to their older siblings. And in time, they achieved so much and became so great they became the arrogant, over confident race we see today. So really, with all that, we are all right, we just have to realize how they started and where they have ended up as a result.

    Of course, this is not indicative of every human. Some will be the overly proud, feeling so superior they might even be racist like we have seen some humans be. There will be those who are more humbled, who strive to simply prove there own self worth as we all do really and not prove the worth of their race. Or even those who see themselves as equals, and that they aren’t competing at all with other races which create interesting interactions with races for sure. And of course, those who may feel inferior and not only want to prove there own self worth, but that of there race…and eventually after achieving such they become the proud, confident type first spoken of.

    And with all this, playing a human be interesting from a psychological stand point for sure. Especially, now that they have been humbled quite a bit by the draenei’s apparent superiority in the one thing they could always claim to be masters of, which is their faith in the Light.


    Damn these humans, and their complex psychology lol. But it was quite enjoyable to see where this all went.

  2. I reject your metric units of evidence, and promote empirical evidence instead!

    …okay, that was bad.

  3. Concrete slabs in basement and garage were poured on Tuesday. We had rain again on Thursday. Lumber delivered. Framing starts Monday. Can’t wait.

  4. I have been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I’ve an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to do not forget this site and give it a glance on a constant basis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: