impostor syndrome

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impostor syndrome (usually uncountable, plural impostor syndromes)

  1. (psychology) A psychological phenomenon in which a person is unable to internalize his or her accomplishments, remaining convinced that he or she does not deserve any accompanying success.
    • 1984, Gay Bryant, The Working Woman Report: Succeeding in Business in the 80s, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 177:
      The office family is not the only phenomenon to watch out for at work. Another common psychological pitfall is something called the "impostor syndrome."
    • 1987, Sarah Hardesty, Nehama Jacobs, “Seeds of Disenchantment”, in Success and Betrayal: The Crisis of Women in Corporate America, 1st Touchstone edition, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 185:
      The Myth of Growth and the surfacing of the Authentic Voice, with a dash of the Impostor Syndrome thrown in for good measure, combine to deprive women from deriving satisfaction out of the boring details of technical mastery.
    • 1987, Cheryl R. Bailey, Martha T. Mednick, “Career Aspiration in Black College Women: An Examination of Performance and Social Self-esteem”, in Esther D. Rosenbaum, Ellen Cole, editors, Treating Women’s Fear of Failure, New York, N.Y.: Harrington Park Press, →ISBN; republished as Treating Women’s Fear of Failure: From Worry to Enlightenment, New York, N.Y., Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge, 2013, →ISBN, page 74:
      We believe that this study suggests an important refinement in the study of women's career aspirations, one that moves us away from stereotypes about the women or the field, and certainly from any categorical ideas about women's fear of success, impostor syndromes, or self-sabotaging behavior.
    • 1987, Julia A. Sherman, “Achievement Related Fears: Gender Roles and Individual Dynamics”, in Women & Therapy, volume 6, number 3, Taylor & Francis, →DOI, →ISSN, page 97:
      My client, Sylvia, not her real name of course, combined fear of failure with the impostor syndrome.


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