Did you ever have the constant feeling that the life you’re living is a complete lie? That despite all evidence to the contrary, you really don’t deserve your diplomas, awards, accomplishments and accolades that you’ve received during your life? That the only reason people recognize you is because you’ve managed to somehow “fool them” into believing that you’re a smart, capable individual but that one day they will come to their senses and realize that you’re nothing but a fraud and you’ll be banished to the scrap heap of life?

We all experience self doubt at one time or another and it’s perfectly natural to feel that way when you’re in way over your head. But, when it persists to the state of including those same doubts to performing a job or task you’re perfectly capable of doing, that’s when the problem arises.

If that’s the case, you might be suffering from a psychological disorder known as “imposter syndrome” and in this case the imposter is you. While not officially recognized in the bible of mental disorders, imposter syndrome can have debilitating effects on your career and social life.

According to studies, women are more prone to suffer from this malady as are members of academia and other peer-oriented professions. Here’s a few symptoms that might be some warning signals that you’ve got a case of imposter syndrome.

  • I’m qualified for this job/promotion but I’m not going to apply for it because I’m not good enough.
  • I’m due to write a document that will be subject to peer review but I’m not going to submit it.
  • I’m really not everything that my resume claims that I am. (Well, okay, we all stretch the truth on resumes but most of us don’t lose any sleep over it.)
  • Hey, I know I just pulled off a major accomplishment but that was only because it was a stroke of luck.
  • I know what you said was intended as constructive criticism but I’m still devastated by it.

Look on the bright side though. At least you’re not suffering from something known as the Dunning–Kruger effect. That’s the complete opposite. It’s when total idiots tend to overstate their abilities and think of themselves as superior to the rest of us.

Hmmm, it just occurred to me, I don’t think I suffer from “imposter syndrome” so does that make me qualified to write about it?I’ll let your votes decide.

Submitted in conjunction with ScienceQuest 2013.



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