One of life's continuing amazements is the discovery that one's deepest, darkest secrets are other people's deepest, darkest secrets, too. The latest example of this phenomenon is the finding by psychologists that 70% of successful Americans consider themselves unworthy frauds who may be unmasked and sent packing at any moment.
Two new books describe the syndrome. Dr. Pauline Rose Clance, a psychologist at Georgia State University, has written "The Imposter Phenomenon" (Peachtree Publishers), which describes executives, professionals, celebrities and other apparently successful people who see themselves as fakes who are fooling the world. They are troubled or terrified by the prospect of being found out. Clance has been studying such people since 1978, when she noticed that her own feelings of insecurity were not unique to her.