What is Imposter Syndrome?

According to two experts on the subject, it is ‘‘an internal experience of intellectual phoniness…in which subjects who had obtained earned degrees, high scores on standardized tests, or professional recognition from colleagues or organizations…did not experience an internal sense of success’’ (Clance and O’Toole, 1988,) In other words Imposter Syndrome is your belief that you are not as competent as other people think you are. This can happen at work, school, or in an interpersonal relationship.

 Imposter Syndrome is not uncommon

 If you feel this way, you’re not alone. In fact , It is estimated that 70% of people experience at least one episode of Imposter Syndrome in their lives. Yet.despite it’s broad prevalence Impostor Syndrome is not listed as a psychological disorder in the U.S. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

So, plenty of people experience identity issues, But similar self doubts often occur in people who live with borderline personality disorder (BPD). In fact, struggling with identity issues is one of the core symptoms of BPD. too. People with BPD often have a very profound lack of sense of self. If you suffer with feelings of inadequacy about who you are or what you believe in, this Imposter Syndrome may be something you can relate to.

Susan David, PhD, is the co-director of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard/McLean Hospital, a pre-eminent BPD research, teaching and clinical care institution in Belmont, Massachusetts (USA). Dr. Davis recently wrote an essay about the prevalence of Imposter Syndrome in the general population as well as in people who have BPD

She also emphasized the fact that most people experience Imposter Syndrome. “That’s important to remember,” she said, “because many people think that feeling like an impostor is unique to them. It’s something that many people go through, including very high-functioning and competent people. But for someone with BPD traits, identity can feel really far away.”

What can be done?

If you feel like an imposter at times, despite being quite competent in reality, you are not alone.  Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce that feeling.

Bay Area Mental Health is a treatment provider organization in Northern California that offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy for people grappling with emotional difficulties. They also posted a blog on Imposter Syndrome, framing it as an issue of poor self-esteem and offering some insights based on DBT skills that may be helpful in addressing that problem.

Take aways

There are two: 1) Imposter Syndrome is very common and 2) There are things that can be dome to help overcome it.

Image: blog.hubspot.com

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