We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Sometimes feeling fraudulent it can be a reflection of reality: many do not feel that they know all they should, or have all of the skills they believe they should have, to present themselves as sufficiently expert in something - and they might be right. That's the point Right Wing Prof is making in his piece about the "impostor syndrome" in academics. Feeling like an impostor can be simply the result of a forceful self-critique. For example: "Here I am applying for a job teaching literature, and I can't remember a darn thing about Beowulf."
Similarly, many people puff themselves up, polish their presentations to the world, to conceal their flaws and weaknesses and to exaggerate their strengths. It often makes sense in life to do so - to put one's best foot forward - but at some point it can also leave a person prone to feeling that his life is an act or a sham, with only the illusion of substance or authenticity. For examples, "I know I'm a coward, but I need the world to see me as brave," or "I know I'm no genius, but I need people to think I'm a sophisticated intellectual." (Related: our recent post on masquerades and Social Signaling)
Getting one's confidence in line with one's personal reality, one's potential, and one's achievements, without false humility and without false advertising, is not always easy.
There are also more neurotic reasons for a person to have, as a symptom, a feeling of fraudulence, such as masochistic self-doubt or failed narcissism, but I won't go into those right now.
'Fraud or imposter' is pretty tough--except in the extreme cases, one could use the word "civilized" --as in, it's 'normal' to have a split identity problem built right into the personality from the beginning, by the socialization process of parental withholding of approval for proscribed behaviors, so that in order to gain that approval we learn in the crib to pretend to be something we're not.
Conclusion is inescapable that civilization itself is fraudulent, because everyone is "behaving". IOW, it's always Lord of the Flies on the inside, and we are the rough beasts who at our very best will be ever slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.
And, into this conversation we must insert a consideration of previous thoughts regarding BPD, and ADD in women. I cannot help but think they join sometimes --not always--but, sometimes like dovetailed drawer corners.
The people I know who have suffered the most from feeling like frauds have that old fashioned relic: an over-scrupulous conscience. The honors student who feels stupid, or feels they didn't really "deserve" that A, that they were just lucky. The devoted parent who blames themself for every failiing of their kid's but gives the kid all the credit for any success...Calling it a syndrome is probably silly, tho, as you all have already noted. It covers so many different types of people...
Some random quotes
From John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress Pt. II “Better to be despised for too anxious apprehensions than ruined by too confident a security.”
From Isaia 41.29 Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.
Zecharian 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer;
nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
Now to bed--a long drive ahead to get the pick of the litter to a college interview tomorrow. Talk about trying to talk someone out of feeling like an impostor!