Tuesday, August 2, 2011

...THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME

Did you know that 70% of all people have suffered at least once from the Imposter Syndrome?

Today, I'm choosing to write about the imposter syndrome because the majority of us suffer with what I call this "condition", with mild to extreme reactions that can affect our daily living. It is a very common phenomenon. We are not alone and yes, I have suffered with this syndrome too.


The following is one description of the Imposter Syndrome. 

The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by psychologists and educators. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.[1]


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.


I once read an article on a local news anchor who suffered for years believing she was an imposter. Here was an educated, competent young woman fully qualified for the position; yet, she feared she would be "found out" and people would see she wasn't as intelligent as they believed her to be. Jody Foster admitted in an interview that when she won an Oscar, she felt like an imposter who had "lucked out". She felt "they" would find out and knock on her door and tell her they made a mistake. A very talented actor, and one of my favorites, I was confused by this admission at the time.


But I was soon to recognize this condition in myself when writing a blog post about my book, "Winter's Captive". It was difficult for me to write about the abuse of my first marriage because I felt like a fraud. My abuse had been mainly mental, with only a little amount of physical abuse. So many women suffered so much more physically than I had. How crazy is that? Abuse is abuse, regardless of its form, or how much more or little one form is over the other.


Then, a publisher knocked on my door and handed me a publishing contract. That old syndrome really knocked me aback. I mean, who was I to think I could fool people into thinking I was a writer? After all, I didn't have any formal education or writing degrees. Nor had I lived the life of the long-suffering, struggling writer. After much soul-searching I accepted the words of one editor who said I was a natural writer and that my education came from life and those who have passed through it.


Georgia Charles is the main character in "Winter's Captive". As her character developed, I recognized that she too suffered from the imposter syndrome as a wife and as a woman. She overcame her insecurities and became empowered. With the editing and re-editing of this heroine, she became my healer and my hope is that my readers will relate to Georgia and draw from her confidence and strength.


Here is the final paragraph of the description above for the Imposter Syndrome:


The impostor syndrome, in which competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence, can be viewed as complementary to the Dunning–Kruger effect, in which incompetent people find it impossible to believe in their own incompetence.


Hmm...I think I would rather have to deal with the Imposter Syndrome than the Dunning-Kruger effect. I would rather be humble than believe I'm something I'm not.

There's nothing stranger than people! Aren't we though?







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