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What is Imposter Syndrome and who is affected by it?

Wave Art
03 Nov 2023
2 minutes read
Karthika Menon
Mental Health Assistance and AdvocacyBuilding ResilienceLifestyle & Mental HealthSelf-Care and CopingMental Health in the Workplace
What is Imposter Syndrome and who is affected by it?

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Did you feel inadequate about the work you do on an everyday basis? Attribute everything that has happened to you to luck and feel like it will all end soon when someone finds out you don't really deserve to be here. You are not alone in this struggle with yourself, imposter syndrome might be holding you back from being your best self. Read on to understand how imposter syndrome comes into play. in day-to-day experiences. 

According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of people have struggled with imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. It is common for young people entering the workforce to feel like an imposter, waiting to be caught sooner or later. Imposter syndrome is not a mental illness and so has not yet found its way into the DSM for diagnosis, it is still widely acknowledged as a common phenomenon and is as real as you and I. 

Origins of Imposter Syndrome 

The term imposter syndrome was coined by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in the 1970s, referring to persistent internal inadequacy feeling despite evidence of competence and accomplishments. The feeling makes an individual doubt their accomplishments, abilities, and qualifications.

Who faces imposter syndrome? Here are a few most common populations affected by the syndrome. 

  • The Perfectionists: they set unrealistic expectations and extremely high standards for themselves to achieve. Despite achieving their set goals, they are still plagued by dissatisfaction. 
  • The Superwoman/Superman: these individuals push themselves to unnecessary lengths to excel at everything - household chores, work, parenting - and feel inadequate and overwhelmed when unable to perform to their expectations. 
  • The Experts: they feel the need to know every detail about everything. They fear being exposed as frauds when they are unable to answer something. 
  • The Soloist: they believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. They often do things by themselves and prefer to achieve without external help. 
  • The Natural Genius: they believe that working hard to achieve something is not the natural order of things and is looked down upon. They perceive that if a person has to work hard or struggle to learn, they are not intelligent or skilled enough. 

Why does imposter syndrome happen?

It often happens because of societal conditioning to achieve endlessly. The notion of success is built to look unanimous in most societies and any deviation from the common norm is looked down upon. For instance, until the last decade, being an engineer or a doctor was given the utmost respect as a profession while most other professions weren’t considered as worth pursuing. The shift in perspective happened over time. 

Remember, imposter syndrome is not a weakness, it is only a transient state of mind that can be cured over a prolonged period of exposure to better experiences. It has its own good and bad and will go away over the years with sufficient practice and understanding of oneself. But prolonged exposure to imposter syndrome can cripple a person’s belief in their abilities, which could lead to more severe conditions. Thus it is vital to talk to an expert who can help you deal with the condition on an everyday basis. 

Still feeling under-confident? 

Talk to an expert for 15 minutes and help understand the condition better. 


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Lifestyle and Mental Health
Building Resilience
Selfcare and Coping
Parenting, Relationships
Mental Health in the Workplace
Mental Health Advocacy

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