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ADHD Impostor

Not really …

So, there’s this thing called Impostor Syndrome (A.K.A. Imposter Syndrome, Impostor Phenomenon or Fraud Syndrome). And while it is not an actual disorder or mental health disease, it has been documented and addressed as an issue by mental health professionals.

It was first documented by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes as an issue that many high-achieving women tended to have. It seems they believed they were not intelligent, despite evidence to the contrary and an absence of facts or data supporting their negative self assessment.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, I know, gave me the shudders too. Now I’m the first person to agree that, if this thing is caused by social environment than there is little speculation required to imagine why professional women would have to deal with this.

Their efforts are constantly being rewritten as the results of the hard work of others, whenever that is possible, and belittled as insignificant when credit can’t be appropriated. In effect, they are trained to consider themselves fraudulent.

The difference between that and the same feelings of fraud that are experienced by someone with ADHD are that people with ADHD are unable to celebrate their successes for other reasons, are always judging themselves to be wanting, are always too ready to assign the blame for things that go wrong to themselves and the credit for things that go right to others.

In short, we do it to ourselves, the women that Clance and Imes studied were probably helped greatly by the fact that they had men around to reasure them that they were only small parts of their own success.

To make matters worse, though we haven’t come anywhere near far enough in recognition of the efforts that women make in anything they turn their hands to, we have come a long way from the climate that prevailed in the late1970’s when the syndrome was first suggested.

So what’s the point?

I’m not trying to take away anything from this study. In fact, I would like to see additional research done on this syndrome. But I would also like to see what kind of information could be revealed about the similarity between this syndrome and the very real and nearly mirror image of its symptoms among those of us with ADHD.

And I would most assuredly like to see that for the simple reason that, if it is a verifiable issue for people with ADHD, and for women who work hard in professional settings and possibly other settings as well, then I believe that the single most disadvantaged group of people affected by this syndrome would be women with ADHD.

Being one or the other would be enough of a risk for this issue. Being both would be like losing the lottery even though you held every ticket.

ADHD Impostor

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2016). ADHD Impostor. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 May 2016
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