Feel Like a Fraud? At Times, Maybe You Should

Benedict Carey in the New York Times:

Screenhunter_2Stare into a mirror long enough and it’s hard not to wonder whether that’s a mask staring back, and if so, who’s really behind it.

A similar self-doubt can cloud a public identity as well, especially for anyone who has just stepped into a new role. College graduate. New mother. Medical doctor. Even, for that matter, presidential nominee.

Presidents and parents, after all, are expected to make crucial decisions on a dime. Doctors are being asked to save lives, and graduate students to know how Aristotle’s conception of virtue differed from Aquinas’s conception of — uh-oh.

Who’s kidding whom?

Social psychologists have studied what they call the impostor phenomenon since at least the 1970s, when a pair of therapists at Georgia State University used the phrase to describe the internal experience of a group of high-achieving women who had a secret sense they were not as capable as others thought. Since then researchers have documented such fears in adults of all ages, as well as adolescents.

More here.