Concept of the Day: Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever got to the end of an activity having achieved all that you wanted to only to feel like a fraud or an imposter? I have.

That feeling could be the result of Impostor Syndrome.

The impostor syndrome sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.


Impostor syndrome is supposed to be particularity evident among high achievers, but I wouldn’t know about that. It was though to be more prevalent in women, but research would suggest that both men and women struggle. There does appear to be a difference in the way that men and women respond to the feelings which, I suspect, means that the impact of Impostor Syndrome is higher for women than for men. Some reports of studies state that 70% of people experience these feelings at one time or another, I’ve not been able to confirm those studies exist but the numbers sound plausible.

It’s not regarded as a mental disorder, more as a learnt reaction to certain situations. A number of techniques exist for taming Imposter Syndrome most of these are common psychology techniques such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Writing Therapy, but simpler techniques such as keeping a gratitude lists and reading reminders of success.

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