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September 2, 2011 at 1:01 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Is it REAL? Little Man Syndrome

By Dayton from SLN More Blogs by This Author

We have all come in contact with one.  We have all heard about them.  We may even have one in our life: the guy with little man syndrome.  

What exactly is "Little Man Syndrome?"  Urban Dictionary defines it as, "A man, small in stature, who attempts to overcome the way he believes other people perceive him (as a diminuative character) by 1) attaching himself to authority figures, 2) trying to manipulate himself into positions of control, 3) migrating toward positions of leadership, and 4) having a fairly volatile temper."  Another entry defines it as a, "Condition whereby undersized men compensate for their smallness by physically asserting their presence."

Obviously UrbanDictionary.com isn't a legitimate source for any kind of medical information, but having been around people with LMS, it made me wonder if it could actually be a medical condition.  LMS is often called a "Napolean Complex," referring to the perception that Napoleon Bonaparte tried compensating for his small statue by conquering and controlling others. (Interestingly enough, historians have concluded that Napoleon would have probably been around 5'8" which was the average of the day.  In many portraits he is seen with his Imperial Guard who were usually above average sized men if they were Napoleon's bodyguards.)

The syndrome doesn't appear in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and isn't recognized as a valid disorder by the medical community, but multiple studies on the subject have been conducted.  In 2007, the University of Central Lancashire conducted a study that suggests LMS is a myth.  It concluded with the hypothesis that men short in stature (under 5'5" in this study) would be more aggressive than men taller in stature.  

The experiment was rather simple.  An experimentor and a subject would duel each other with sticks in a sparring match.  The experimentor would intentionally hit the subject on the knuckles.  The results were somewhat inconclusive due to the nature of the experiment but showed that men of average height were more likely to become aggressive.  The subjects and taller men were connected to a heart monitors, which suggested that the subjects were more likely to hit back first.

Professor Abraham Buunk of the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, may have found evidence of LMS, but the traits he tested for were different than those of the study conducted by UCL.  He found that men that were 5'4" were twice as likely to show signs of jealousy in a relationship than men that were 6'6".  Other studies have shown that a man being tall has many advantages in attracting a mate, which would only add to the probability of shorter men being jealous.

So is it real?  I would say yes and no - a conclusion I come to a lot!  But it depends what your definition of LMS is.  As a legitimate medical problem, it's definitely a myth. As for a complex or personality traits a person has, LMS is an appropriate title to give men that exhibit a jealous or controlling attitude.  This really applies to both men of below average, average, and above average height.

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1 Comment

  • Really enjoyed reading this Dayton...
    I have noticed in smaller males (not all) that they appear to approach nearly all aspects of life in an aggressive manner and project a rugged mentality. I remember this one guy, an associate, he was like 5'5' and he drove a monster truck with big tires, lift kits, the works. Even when talking to him in conversation he had to be dominant and controlling. This is Neil-ology but I believe the tough aggressive mentality is a way to massage the ego and deal with the insecurities of being short. Based on previous friendships with smaller guys I definitely believe that LMS is NOT just a myth, shorter people depending on their personality, want the power and most time go overboard to prove that they aren't afraid of anything..

    On the flip side, I have quite a few friends/associates who are the exact opposite. In comparison in my taller and shorter friends/associates, the shorter are less arrogant, very humble, open minded, confident & promote peace (lol). Conversations are much more pleasant with shorter friends for the most part. Also in being an athlete, shorter guys have a bigger heart. Sometimes for some of them I use the term "freak of nature" because I'm like "how can someone so short be so fast or so strong and jump so high". Even in workouts I'm amazed how much more shorter guys can bench press and the endurance is much longer. In observing other conversations, I've heard many coaches say "I'd rather take athletes with more heart and less talent"...So again this is just a little useless Neil-ology.

    Until next time...

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