Impostor Syndrome, a Reparative History

  • Dana Simmons University of California, Riverside

Abstract

This is an attempt to insert the stories we tell about fear and shame into a history of twentieth-century psychology and its obsession with achievement and modernization. It is an attempt to write an affective history of achievement at the turn of the millennium - and to make this feeling history. Impostor Syndrome is a pop-psychological diagnosis, employed to explain the low presence of women in STEM fields, business and academic administration and ’thought leadership’ in the pubic sphere. The article follows the intellectual lineage of two precursors of Impostor Syndrome, Fear of Success and the Impostor Phenomenon. It argues that the grouping of gender/ race/ success/ affect was a keystone of twentieth-century American psychology and development theory. The history of this feeling has consequences for thinking about situated knowledge, realism and epistemic justice.

Author Biography

Dana Simmons, University of California, Riverside
Associate Professor, Department of History
Published
2016-08-01
Section
Debates/Interactions