For the belief that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor, see Capgras delusion.
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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.
4 Potential mechanisms,
6 See also,
8 External links,
The term "impostor syndrome" first appeared in an article written by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes who observed many high-achieving females tended to believe they were not intelligent, and that they were over-evaluated by others
The impostor syndrome tends to be studied as a reaction to certain stimuli and events. It is not perceived to be a psychological disorder among people, but it has been the topic of research for many psychologists. Evidence gathered from research does not support the idea that this syndrome is a distinct personality trait, but certain people are more prone to impostor feelings. Though traditionally perceived as an ingrained personality trait, impostor syndrome has more recently been studied as a reaction to certain situations. Under this pretense, it is a response, experienced by many different people, to situations that prompt such feelings. Though certain people are more prone to impostor feelings, experience them more intensely than most, and can be identified through the use of personality scales, evidence does not support impostor syndrome to be a distinct personality trait.
Psychological research done in the early 1980s estimated that two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds and other studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another. It is not considered a psychological disorder, and is not among the conditions described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.
The impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women, but there is some evidence it occurs in a comparable number of men. Another demographic associated with this phenomenon is African Americans. Affirmative action may cause a minority to doubt their own abilities and suspect that their skills were not what allowed them to be hired.
Success is more likely to be attributed to internal factors for men, compared to external factors for women. Failure for men is attributed to external factors, whereas for women it is internal factors. Women believe that their success or failure directly reflects upon their female peers. Females believe that they are being watched more closely than that of their male co-workers. This begins in early childhood; boys tend to blame things that are outside of their control when things don't happen accordingly (e.g. there wasn't enough time to answer the question, the other team had an advantage) while girls tend to blame themselves (e.g. I'm inadequate).
The most effective technique to overcome impostor syndrome is to simply recognize that it exists.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This approach involves the idea that a person refuses to acknowledge their own worth or accomplishments, and looks at the thought processes to find out why he or she admires success or brilliance. Certain assumptions need to be overcome to help with the problem, such as the tendency to assume that making a single mistake reflects on one's abilities. The goal of this approach is to help the person actively recognize and avoid negative or destructive thoughts. Theoretically, once the person is able to recognize these thoughts, he or she can learn how to match the thoughts with reality and become aware of flaws in his or her thinking.
Writing therapy allows the person to organize his or her thoughts through writing. According to this method, once the person is able to see their accomplishments, as opposed to interpreting them internally, they will associate these accomplishments with reality. The text can also be used as a reminder of one's accomplishments at a later time. Workshops aim to dissolve the sense of inadequacy. It is commonly associated with academics and is widely found among graduate students.
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