Impostor Syndrome 101: What is it, how common is it, and loads more info

Because you're not actually a fraud

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Even though it's pretty normal not to feel comfortable taking on the role of CEO when you applied for the position of mailroom assistant, there comes a point when your feelings of inadequacy in the classroom/boardroom/seminar are completely unwarranted.

Sure, it's great to be modest. But if you feel like you could be fired on the spot at any given moment when your superior suddenly realises you're completely inept at you're job (even though you're NOT), you might be a member of the Impostor Syndrome squad.

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So, what actually is it?

Impostor Syndrome is a term that was first coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. The syndrome itself is characterised by a person's inability to accept their own success, accompanied by a permanent fear that everyone else will soon turn around and say: "What IS this person doing here?"

How common is it?

Very, actually. Despite most people thinking they're completely alone in their impostor thoughts, psychological research carried out in the 1980's estimates that 2 out 5 successful people consider themselves frauds and feel like they don't deserve to be in the position they're in.

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Does it affect men and women equally?

Although it was originally estimated that women were more likely to develop Impostor Syndrome, recent research suggests that it affects both women and men equally.

Does anyone well-known have it?

A lot of people you're probably big fans of have spoken out about Impostor Syndrome in the past, with Chuck Lorre (the writer of Two and A Half Men), John Green, and Emma Watson all having reported the symptoms at some point in their career.


What can be done to overcome it?

Impostor Syndrome is not classified as a mental disorder, although some of the management techniques recommended to overcome it do sound quite similar to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.)

People who identify as having the syndrome are encouraged to discuss their fears with a mentor, make lists of positive accomplishments, and, if needed, try their hand at Coherence Therapy and Writing Therapy.

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Now watch this vid of Emma Watson discussing feminism:


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