Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 418–421 | Cite as

Thorny Laurels: the Impostor Phenomenon in Academic Psychiatry

  • Andreea L. Seritan
  • Michelle M. Mehta
Feature: Perspective

Originally described by Drs. Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 [1], the impostor phenomenon is slowly gaining recognition in academic medicine, although it has been better studied in other fields, such as psychology and business. The impostor phenomenon is a psychological construct (not a clinical syndrome, per se) which may be encountered in high achievers who believe that others overestimate their skills and abilities. Individuals with this phenomenon have a persistent tendency to attribute their successes to external factors (such as luck) or to disproportionate effort and believe that they will soon be “found out” to be less competent than they appear [1]. Up to 70 % of successful people in the USA may have impostor feelings, according to Dr. Clance’s landmark work, The Impostor Phenomenon ([2], p. 97). This construct was initially thought to be more prevalent in women, although recent studies have shown less marked gender differences [1, 2]. On one hand, the impostor...


Academic Psychiatry Maslach Burnout Inventory Mental Health Difficulty Academic Health Center International Medical Graduate 
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This work was supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant SM60482. Parts of this paper were presented as workshops at the Association for Academic Psychiatry Annual Meetings in 2013 and 2014 and the Western Group on Educational Affairs Meeting in 2014. We are very grateful to Dr. Pauline Rose Clance, who generously shared her work with us.


On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, Davis Medical CenterSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.University of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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