What Are the 5 Types of Imposter Syndrome?

Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2022

What is imposter syndrome?

5 Types of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome by itself is not classified as a mental illness.

Imposter syndrome is the belief that one's success or favorable situations are the consequence of luck rather than one's efforts or abilities. People that go through this frequently do so despite earlier successes or accomplishments.

Because of this, imposter syndrome symptoms frequently contradict what the person's surroundings or other people may perceive or believe to be real.

Imposter syndrome may impact ideas and feelings that come to mind at work or even in personal situations.

5 types of imposter syndrome

  1. The perfectionist
    • The person dislikes making errors, feels guilty if they do, and feels that they need to be right 100 percent of the time. They are too preoccupied with the flaws and discrepancies in their work rather than the achievements because they worry that any flaw will be perceived adversely by others.
    • In a fitness setting, this could be a customer in a personal training session who gets agitated or frustrated with themselves when they do not carry out an activity properly. If their trainer compliments them, they might answer by pointing out what they did wrong or what they could have done better the next time.
  2. Natural genius
    • The person is accustomed to achieving success effortlessly. As a result, individuals gradually begin to fear when they encounter a new problem that they are unable to address immediately. They often judge or criticize themselves. 
    • They refrain from engaging in activities they feel they would not naturally thrive in because of the anxiety caused by the feeling of not being able to do a task well on the first try. They might have very high (and occasionally unachievable) standards for themselves.
  3. The expert
    • The person does not feel pleased after completing a task until they believe they are an expert on this subject. Experts are constantly looking for new information, which makes it difficult for them to finish jobs and projects.
    • The expert group may include people who do not apply for jobs because they do not meet all the requirements.
  4. Soloist
    • Frequently feels that they should already be aware of the information or knowledge and will be reluctant to ask for help. They would think that only frauds or impostors would ask for assistance, and this could be seen as a fault.
    • An example of this in the fitness setting would be a member who has a question but chooses not to ask the on-site personal trainer. It might be a newly recruited personal trainer who feels uncomfortable questioning a more experienced trainer because they think they “should know this already.”
  5. Superhuman
    • The affected individual pushes themselves to work harder than others to mask their fictitious insecurities. Even though they have a professional position and a variety of skill sets, they nevertheless feel inadequate.
    • These people look to their jobs for validation, and they typically work until late hours.


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How to overcome imposter syndrome

It is important to understand that what is happening is normal and you are not alone. Try not to panic and do not let that stop you from working.

Here are some solutions that will help you deal with imposter syndrome:

  • Take comfort in knowing you are not alone
  • Talk to your mentors
  • Recognize your accomplishments, wins, and successes
  • Realize no one is perfect
  • Change your thinking
  • Remember what you do well
  • Stop comparing yourself
  • Get support
  • Develop self-compassion

What are the symptoms of imposter syndrome?

Symptoms of imposter syndrome include:

  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Constant comparison to others
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Self-doubt
  • Negative self-talk
  • Fixation with the past
  • Distrust in one’s abilities

Is imposter syndrome a mental illness?

Imposter syndrome by itself is not classified as a mental illness; however, the trait is often associated with other mental health conditions including:

Medically Reviewed on 11/23/2022
Image Source: iStock image

8 TIPS TO REDUCE IMPOSTER SYNDROME. https://blog.nasm.org/tips-to-reduce-imposter-syndrome

5 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a New Teacher. https://www.ielts.org/blog-for-teachers/2021/5-tips-for-overcoming-imposter-syndrome-as-a-new-teacher

IMPOSTER SYNDROME WORKBOOK. https://waiaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Imposter-Syndrome-Workbook-V1..pdf

Understanding and Combating Imposter Syndrome: Tips from Career Services. https://bootcamp.northwestern.edu/blog/understanding-and-combating-imposter-syndrome/