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Jun 19, 2018

‘The Writer’s Brain’ on Impostor Syndrome: Part One

Welcome back to a special edition of The Writer Files called “The Writer’s Brain,” a guest series with neuroscientist Michael Grybko, and in this episode we dig into a phenomenon known as “impostor syndrome,” an experience many writers struggle with.

The Experience Known as “Impostor Syndrome”

The experience known as “impostor syndrome” has been recognized in over 70% of the population across a wide range of demographics. Everyone from bestselling authors, to A-list celebrities, and even genius-level scientists, have all admitted to feeling a kind of isolation from not wanting to be outed as a “fraud,” even though they’re far from it.

And it’s not just limited to high-achievers; it’s been found in men and women across a wide variety of groups, including those about to launch a new creative project or career, teachers, students, entrepreneurs, and many others.

Across all demographics, success tends to create an even deeper sense of the impostor experience, and although not considered a clinical psychological syndrome, the effects can be debilitating to writers at any level of experience or professional standing.

These feelings of self-doubt can snowball if not addressed, and leave you with a sinking depression, anxiety, and a sense of dread at taking on new or challenging tasks.

Luckily, research scientist Michael Grybko returned to the podcast to help me find some answers about the origins of anxiety in the human brain, and how to address the impostor experience from both a scientific and layperson’s perspective.

If you missed previous episodes of The Writer’s Brain you can find them all in the show notes, in the archives at writerfiles.fm, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you tune in.

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In Part One of this file Michael Grybko and I discuss:

  • How neuroscience can find a lens to look at the “impostor syndrome”
  • Why some doubt and anxiety is good for you
  • The problem with too much fear and the avoidance response
  • Why the impostor phenomenon and writer’s block are similar
  • How your whole brain plays a role in your fear of the blank page

The Show Notes: