The Impostor Syndrome can be described as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that routinely challenge positive information that the psychological self holds to be true. Individuals who suffer from this experience profound self-doubt, and feelings that they are not successful, competent or smart, regardless of any evidence presented to the contrary.
The individual consistently feels like a fraud-- an impostor-- because they feel that their accomplishments are not based on their talent or ability, but because of their ability to deceive others into believing that they are talented. Because it is self-inflicted, it is also psychologically destabilizing, as the individual is essentially attacking his/her own psychological self.
It is important to note that the Impostor Syndrome is not the same as low self-esteem. High performing and highly successful individuals also experience this condition. Individuals who suffer from this condition often attribute their success to luck, discount their success, or often believe that they give off the impression that they are more capable than they really are. They often struggle to accept their successes and let go of their failures. Their successes do not change their negative feelings about the psychological self, and their failures are often internalized as a characteristic of their personality or future capability.
The Impostor Syndrome can be treated, but there are steps that the individual can take to reduce the weight of these feelings when they come up: