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Customer Review

on November 20, 2008
Imagine my surprise to find that a book that is advertised as being on the Impostor Syndrome -- a subject that has been the focus of hundreds of studies by people in a wide range of fields -- has almost nothing to do with, well, the impostor syndrome.

Don't get me wrong. Graden has written an easy to read book with some interesting stories and ideas. Unfortunately though, other than describing how he himself felt a fraud early on in his career and using the term a bunch of times in chapter 1, he barely references it again. And when he does, it is less then helpful.

For example, being a graduate student I naturally turned immediately to Chapter 13 which is titled: "Students and the Impostor Syndrome." There are exactly 7 paragraphs in the entire chapter -- that's not 7 PAGES -- that's 7 PARAGRAPHS.

Basically all he has to say on the subject is that students feel stress because they are graded regularly, that students with the impostor syndrome tend to be perfectionists and that perfectionists are "not fun people to be around," and that schools and tests are very black & white/right & wrong oriented. That's it. The only "advice" the author offers to students is that we need to learn to "see the world in varying shades of gray, and in time, as a Technicolor vista" and that "no one is perfect."

In fairness, the author says right up front that he is not a psychologist and that the book is about his personal story. Fair enough. But shouldn't the book still be primarily about the subject it's advertised as covering?

The author does weave in the themes of self-doubt and self-confidence here and there. But less in an informative way than as a backdrop to the frequent name dropping about his connections with Tony Robbins and other gurus or as a bridge to talk about how he went on to make it big in the martial arts.

If you are looking for a book on general goal setting (weight loss, being physically fit, wealth building, etc), thinking positively, unlearning broader socially programmed messages like "in order to be attractive I must be wealthy," some basic personality profiles that are unrelated to the impostor syndrome, and similar topics that are interesting if that's what you're looking for, but have ZERO to do with the understanding or overcoming the impostor syndrome -- then you may find this book helpful.

Otherwise I am afraid that as a book about the Impostor Syndrome, this book is a fraud. Save your money and do an internet search on the impostor syndrome instead. If you struggle with impostor feelings, I guarantee you will learn more from one of the many magazine articles on the subject than you will from this book.
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