Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Impostor Syndrome

It's described in Wikipedia as:
The Impostor Syndrome, or Impostor Phenomenon, sometimes called Fraud Syndrome, is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of a number of books and articles by psychologists and educators. Individuals experiencing this syndrome seem unable to internalize their accomplishments. Regardless of what level of success they may have achieved in their chosen field of work or study, or what external proof they may have of their competence, they remain convinced internally that they do not deserve the success they have achieved and are really frauds. Proofs of success are dismissed as luck, timing, or otherwise having deceived others into thinking they were more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. This syndrome is thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers and is typically associated with academics.
Um. I wasn't aware there was a name for how I feel. Fortunately, my ego is as big as all outdoors, so it doesn't trouble me.

From a comment on EffectMeasure, the Science Health Blog :
For some people, the feelings underlying the Imposter Syndrome are a positive thing for the world at large because they constantly strive for some external validation of their abilities (e.g., having their paper cited, their blog recognized, their promotion come through, etc.). Of course they don't accept the outward evidence of success but just try to get more evidence, but the world benefits.
Well, I'd like to think so. But I feel that's just my arrogance speaking. Never mind, it works for me.

Curtsy to Legal Eagle who wrote on this originally.


Phelps said...

So humility is now a disorder rather than a virtue?


Battybattybats said...

Sure, it'd have to be.

iirc there were two statements carved in stone at Delphi's oracle.

"know thyself"

(imo an impossible task to finish but a worthy one to try)

"Nothing in excess"

Humility in excess would be as bad as pride in excess. Both would be at their extremes quite disabling. With one giving up despite their accomplishments and the other giving up considering no further accomplishement would be neccessary.

Anonymous said...

I think imposter syndrome is all part and parcel of doing a PhD...sigh...I feel it all the time. Have written a post about it myself recently.

Oh well, at least I managed to trick everyone at the recent conference I went to. :)

Chap said...

Heh. Submariners *cultivate* this syndrome, ya know...

Zoe Brain said...

legal eagle - so THAT's where I got the original reference from! Thanks, I' lost track. I'd better edit the post to give credit where it's due.

chap - I think I'll stay below the layer on that comment.