The Imposter’s confabulations: between narratives and beliefs

  • Eliana Gagliardi
Keywords: Sindrome dell'Impostore, Psicopatologia, Narrazioni


The Imposter syndrome is a psychopathological condition in which people feel unduly living the role of another self in prestigious contexts and roles (Clance & Imes, 1978). Underlying this narrative is the subject's belief that one is deceiving the social environment of reference by returning a positive but illusory image of one's abilities (Sakulku & Alexander, 2011). 

To confer continuity and legitimacy to the self, the subject enacts a retrospective reconstruction of achievements and acknowledgments that oversteps the constraint of verisimilitude. Indeed, there is a hiatus between the present self and the remembered self (Habermas & Köber, 2015). The subject's personal identity seems to adhere more to the remembered extended self (James, 1890) rather than the present cognitive self: autobiographical memory is shaped in favor of plausibility by sacrificing accuracy. This leads to biased reconstructions of events at the expense of accurate reproductions, giving rise – through confabulation – to self-referential mental simulations of what happened and could happen (De Brigard, 2014). 

In this analysis, I will describe how confabulations constitute a frame of meaning apt to motivate the subject's perceived dimension of inadequacy and inefficiency (Parkman, 2016), which is strained to serve the representation of one's identity (Cardella, 2018). In the Self-Pattern Theory (Gallagher & Daly, 2018), narrative permits mapping the dynamic relationship between the different aspects that constitute the self. This relationship can be observed in the Imposter Syndrome, in which narrative distortion of memories leads to the emergence of fallacious beliefs, including the central one: being an impostor.


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How to Cite
Gagliardi , E. (2022) “The Imposter’s confabulations: between narratives and beliefs”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2021A25.