A Raging Case of Impostor Syndrome

In all three books of the Hidden Sanctuary series, a recurring thread haunting Jacob’s conscience is that of being ‘found out’. In Hidden, this threat of discovery is tied up with his friendship with Sada, an Outsider, which the Tribe’s doctrine wouldn’t condone. In Exposed, it manifests as a fear of not living up to the role of mentor that was bestowed upon him by his predecessor who he greatly respected. And lastly, in Unmasked, it’s the fear of how his friends will react if they find out the truth about his past.

Fear permeates Jacob’s very existence, and while in books 1 and 3 he fixates on tangible reasons to dwell on what could go wrong, it is in book 2 – Exposed – that his self-judgement alone does the most damage. It’s only by thinking he’s not good enough that he takes himself down a path of detachment, isolation, and finally self-destruction.

In modern psychology, this act of self-sabotage – originally thought to be most prevalent in women, but now known to affect both sexes equally – is referred to as Impostor Syndrome.

Unless we’re narcissists or psychopaths (we’ll save those for another blog), none of us are completely sure of ourselves all of the time, no matter how much of a confident persona we may project. We all experience doubt, and we’re often our own worst enemy. But Impostor Syndrome is that unhelpful voice among all that negativity telling you that you’re out of your depth and sooner or later you’ll be found out.

It knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s debilitating and will punch you right where it hurts the most.

At its core, it’s driven by shame and feeds on fear. Shame that you might not live up to the person you claim to be. Shame that you’re deceiving people. Shame that when you’re found out, no one will want to know you. And fear of this ultimate shameful outcome is what will often have you stopping in your tracks, turning back, and perhaps never reaching your full potential.

Fraud is the word that screams in Jacob’s head when he wakes from yet another nightmare in Exposed. He doesn’t think he can ever live up to Michael’s portrayal of what a mentor should be. But what Jacob isn’t able to comprehend for himself – but others around him do – is that there are many ways to be a leader/mentor, and Michael’s was just one.

And the treatment for Impostor Syndrome? The courage and self-love to accept that not everything you do will be right or perfect, but it’s enough just to keep trying and keep learning. You are worthy, and you deserve the things you achieve.

psychogenic amnesia

In the Hidden Sanctuary series, the protagonist Jacob is suffering from the effects of a childhood trauma. In book one, Hidden, he has no recollection of what this trauma actually is but his recurring and vividly gruesome nightmares are a red flag to a past he doesn’t think he’ll want to remember.

The increased nightmares have been triggered by his encounter with Sada, but Jacob resists exploring what they might mean. He’s long had a sense there is something his mind is protecting him from and he fears learning the whole truth.

It’s difficult to imagine how a person’s mind can be so clever as to literally block memories of a traumatic event. But the body and mind have evolved to protect and survive to extraordinary lengths.

What Jacob is suffering from (if suffering is the right word) is psychogenic amnesia, also known as functional amnesia or dissociative amnesia. The life event that triggered it happened when he was fifteen years old, a period when the developing mind is particularly sensitive to traumatic experiences. Unable to process this ‘intolerable life situation’, Jacob’s mind blocked the details out instead.

In the difficult years that followed for Jacob, these memories sank deeper and deeper until triggered by associated ‘identifiers’, in his case the sight of blood on white cotton, and his brother’s name.

Source: www.human-memory.net/disorders_psychogenic.html

Come over to the dark side

Welcome to the dare to delve deeper blog, where I indulge my fascination for all things different, difficult or unusual.

My interest in people who are, or who act, different to the accepted norms of society often leads me to the psychology behind what motivates them to behave a certain way or adopt a particular persona. I want to know why they act the way they do, what drives them, what or who influences them, what in their past has shaped them into the person they are, can they change and how can they, and do they even want to.

What makes one person comply with society and another resist it?

When does the child become the violent adult?

How far can one person influence another?

Why are certain individuals drawn to committing atrocious acts together?

How can some people have no capacity for empathy at all?

Then there are the dark places - the abandoned room that’s been left untouched as though its occupants left in a hurry; the alleyway in the city where only certain people go in the early hours of the morning; the dead quiet of the forest or the isolated cabin by the river; the rough estate or the town where the residents won’t go out after dark or leave their doors unlocked during the day…

These are the themes, the people and places, I explore in my stories as I delve into the depths of the human mind and its capacity to soar or self-destruct in a world of its own creating…