Monday, 22 August 2016

The Imposter Syndrome

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

This was the subject of a fascinating BBC Radio 4 documentary, in which in emerged that the only people who tended not to have self-doubt were probably those who were not very competent anyway; it was the competent, those very good, who nonetheless were plagued withmost doubts about their knowledge and compentency. And while high achievers suffer perhaps the most, almost everybody suffers from it to some degree, except those who manage somehow to delude themselves.

Of course, most people manage by present to the world a facade in which they appear as competent; they struggle, and for the most part, overcome this fear of being found out. Their internal dialogue is full of doubt.

But there is another kind of facade, and another kind of imposter. That is the person hiding behind the facade because they want to present a different perspective to the world but when unseen can be on a spectrum ranging from merely quite unpleasant to a malicious and nasty. Usually, they get away with it, but sometimes that hidden self becomes exposed to the outside world, and it is not a pretty sight.

Senator Frank Walker, believing he was having a quiet word with Stuart Syvret, and unaware that the microphone was still live, took a few tips from Malcolm Tucker, years before “The Thick of It Aired”:

SS: “Frank we’re talking about dead children.”

FW: “Yes Stuart exactly. So you shouldn’t be politicising it you should now be throwing your support behind the Police and behind every effort to find out who was responsible.”

SS “Indeed I have repeatedly expressed my full support.”

FW – “No you’re trying to shaft Jersey internationally.”

Mild language for the day, but when you hear the tone and anger, the listener can appreciate why this was so controversial, and indeed, it is only this year that the former Chief Minister actually apologised for his words. But it showed a rather less suave side to Mr Walker.

And now this has emerged with the election campaign, and been reported in the JEP.

Mary O’Keefe Burgher, tried to silence St Lawrence Parishioner Jason Cronin for asking a question. As he stood to speak, she asked the Constable to stop him, as he had also asked one at the St Mary Hustings (where he was attending but not a Parishioner).

Quite rightly the Constable thought he should be able to speak, and took an immediate sounding among the other candidates who unanimously thought the question should be asked. Mary was obviously irked by this, and sent this email to her fellow candidates for Senator:

“Due to the abysmal turnout at the hustings and the same supporters asking questions I am suggesting that we reduce the hustings to 3 more. St Brelade,St Helier and Grouville. Please reply yes or no. No explanations. It is down to the candidates.”

To which Guy de Faye replied:

“Sorry Mary. No. No. No. All the hustings have been comprehensively advertised. Your resistance to being questioned at St Lawrence was frankly baffling. Attending the hustings is not compulsory should you consider them to be a waste of your time.”

This annoyed Mary, who decided to send a personal insult rather than an argument:

“And it would be nice to sit next to someone who didn't stink of booze!!!”

Guy de Faye, who had in fact only had one pint before the Hustings, replied:

“You forgot the cigarettes. Try and pitch the personal insults a little more accurately!!”

Mary apologised later to Guy de Faye – after it emerged that all the other candidates had been included in the last exchange, it would very likely head towards the JEP, and a rather unpleasant side of her character would be exposed to the public.

She did not, however, apologise to Mr Cronin for her outburst, or to members of the public for behaving in her email in a way unbefitting the office of Senator. I think both Mr Cronin and the public also deserve an apology; as it is, the apology looks as if it was given only because she was found out.

Do we really want to elect someone who behaves like this when they think they cannot be noticed, someone who is all smiles in public, but quite capable of nastiness behind closed political doors?

And if she has trouble with all Senatorial hustings, how will she manage with her job at Andium HVR Global and being a States member? Would she be another of those absentee States members who just can't manage to juggle two jobs? Or will she feel justified in leaving on those occasions when too many States members are absent from the house?

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