I missed the boat on the carnival of Imposter Syndrome since my wordpress has been acting really weird since I upgraded. That gave me a chance to read all the other posts first.
Here’s my two cents on Imposter Syndrome, and I speak as someone who is very familiar with it, from personal experience. I also have had lots of friends with this, and have tried to help them through it. I also have seen many of these same people give up on science, due to a variety of factors, but I felt that confidence was one.
In the past, my inclination has been to try to say things like ‘Hey, just don’t worry about it.’ or ‘Think about how fun it is to get away with it!’ And In retrospect, I think that’s not all that helpful.
Just telling someone their thoughts are illogical or unreasonable doesn’t work that well. They may go along with it, but fighting against those ego-dystonic unwanted thoughts is exhausting. It’s depleting. And when you backslide, and those thoughts reappear, then you feel guilty, and helpless, and you don’t want to bring it up again, and it just gets worse.
I don’t know whether Imposter Syndrome is an anxiety disorder, but I think it’s useful to treat it like one. And that means self-CBT and if the case is bad enough, or if typical comorbid conditions present psychotropic meds.
That means, things like reality testing. Coming up with objective tests of whether one is where one belongs, and then performing those tests. More generally, it means treating it as a serious problem, and getting help from books designed to help people with these kinds of doubts.