Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success. By Dr. Pauline Rose Clance Peachtree. $14.95.
The Imposter Phenomenon occurs with great frequency among successful, high-achieving people. They've done well in school, earned their correct degrees, received awards and praise from their colleagues, and advanced rapidly in their careers. In fact, in most minds, these people have it made. So the question usually arises: "If they've done so well, what is the problem?"
The answer is their success is never truly fulfilling because they're always too busy trying to make sure no one finds them out. Imposters believe they are intellectual frauds who have attained success because they were at the right place at the right time, knew someone in power, or were simply hard workers -- never because they were talented or intelligent or deserved their positions.
Nearly all of us have known such people. Imposters are everywhere. Your doctor may be one. Or your attorney. The journalist whose name you see in the newspaper every day. These aren't people who have faked their credentials. They are talented, successful people who feel like fakes.
Since 1974, Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes have been researching this phenomenon. They spent many hours discussing the experiences of clients and students, and together they began to develop and write about the characteristics of these high-achieving people who doubted their abilities and competency. The result of their efforts can be found in this interesting book, which outlines a plan for these intelligent, creative people to overcome the fear that haunts their success.
One obstacle that exists, however, is that very few people who are experiencing the Imposter Phenomenon would label themselves "imposters." With that thought in mind, the author developed the "Imposter Test" to help people determine whether they have IP characteristics and, if so, to what extent they are suffering.
Most intelligent people know that almost everyone -- no matter how successful or smart -- occasionally has failed at some endeavor. As a child Thomas Edison had problems in school. Van Gogh and his paintings were laughed at during his lifetime. Imposters are aware of such things, too. But imposters are unable to apply this knowledge to themselves. Even though they know intellectually that failure is a necessary part of living, they can't tolerate the thought of it, and they avoid it at all costs.
Toward the end of the book the author outlines some ideas to help these imposters overcome their fears. Of special interest to parents who are imposters themselves is the section on raising imposter-free children. It's often difficult for parents to communicate love for their children unless they're getting love and tenderness in their own lives. If you suffer imposter feelings and still believe that you have to be perfect in order to be loved, your children will sense this and probably apply it to themselves.