We have all experienced feelings of not belonging or not being content and satisfied with our own lives and accomplishments.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, earlier known as Imposter Phenomenon, can be characterized as the belief that an individual is incompetent or not fit to work and be successful in their field despite having the credentials and previous successes. This self-doubt and lack of confidence about one’s skills and capabilities causes individuals to fear being exposed as an imposter or a fraud within their field.

There are five main categories, or subtypes, of imposter syndrome. These categories include perfectionist, expert, superman/superwoman, natural genius, and soloist. Overall, imposter syndrome makes it nearly impossible for the individuals suffering from it to internalize their success and accomplishments. Many people who suffer from imposter syndrome may very easily internalize small mistakes or any time they fall short, but commonly attribute their successes to random chance or external factors. 

Literature shows that individuals suffering from imposter syndrome will constantly find themselves in an imposter cycle. This cycle results in the overall belief that an individual is a fraud or imposter through two major ways an individual with imposter syndrome will handle a task or challenge. One way is through overpreparation, which results in the belief of feeling like an imposter because of the false perception that one must work more harder than their peers or counterparts to accomplish the same goal or tasks. The other response observed in individuals with imposter syndrome is procrastination. This procrastination results in feelings of imposterism due to the lack of effort put into preparing.

Both overpreparation and procrastination require frantic planning and are followed by brief relief and satisfaction upon completing a task. The imposter cycle then restarts when assigned a new task. Nonetheless, all individuals who suffer from imposter syndrome also suffer from feeling as if they are not good enough or undeserving of being in their field, regardless of any of their past achievements or present skills. This instills a sense of fear of being exposed as a fraud 

Imposter Syndrome on the Job 

Imposter syndrome affects high-functioning, high-achieving, and high-pressure academic and workplace settings. It is most commonly identified in individuals in healthcare professions such as physicians. It is also prevalent among students studying to create a healthcare career. This is common in this field because it takes a great deal of hard work to be able to enter this profession. Once welcomed or accepted into this field, individuals are surrounded by other intelligent, capable, or competent individuals, which makes it very easy to feel as if you are constantly competing and being compared to your peers. Not to mention, this is a field based on a vast, almost infinite amount of health and medicine-related information that is constantly being expanded on.

Those who suffer from imposter syndrome at work tend to celebrate accomplishments and complete tasks very briefly. Other characteristics associated with imposter syndrome in the workplace include working longer hours to prove yourself, performance impairment, hyper-focusing on mistakes, excessive comparisons to peers, burnout, and several other fears, such as fear of failure. 

Imposter Syndrome: Trauma Applicable

Imposter syndrome is very applicable to trauma due to the effects of trauma alone. Imposter syndrome directly affects the well-being and quality of life of an individual suffering from this condition. Individuals suffering from the aftermath of trauma are already in a constant state of fear. These traumatized individuals have a tainted or fearful perspective on life now due to their experiences. The impact of their trauma can tremendously affect their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves. They can begin to experience feelings of self-doubt, which is known to be linked to low confidence. This lack of confidence and positive belief in oneself after being a victim of trauma can be very self-destructive, but it is also a direct response to the trauma. Although this imposter syndrome of feeling inadequate or like an imposter can appear in the work lives of traumatized individuals, it can also apply to their lives after trauma in general. For example, a trauma victim could blame themselves or become overly critical of themselves and their actions in fear of being exposed as an imposter, or, in this sense, guilty or responsible for traumas that are not even remotely their fault. This imposter syndrome causes several features that are also factors when dealing with trauma. Some of these factors include increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear.

Reference: From Taylor Griggs’s Blog