Valerie Young’s The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women is a guide to help women recover from the Imposter Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon that describes the self-doubt that successful women experience. In 1978, Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes discovered that high-achieving women trivialized accomplishments and attributed success to luck, hard work, or favoritism. The Imposter Syndrome “involve[s] a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize  successes” (Kalinosky). Young’s work seeks to help women “own” their success and alleviate the constant stress that these outliers feel.
Reading the The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women was a lot like reading a book of quotes and anecdotes. Every other paragraph contained words said by a well-known individual that emphasized a sense of illegitimacy. Although interesting, these quotes and stories are unnecessary in a self-help book. A few stories can be used to highlight a point or topic, but Young saturates her work with words written and said by others. Perhaps the inclusion of these quotes is targeted at individuals who feel better about themselves when they know that famous people suffer from the same syndrome. The text would have been more convincing if studies were cited or researchers discussed. Reading quote after quote was really tiring.
The most irritating aspect of this book was the constant questioning of the audience. Every section included numerous questions that asked the audience if it has felt a certain way. Have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve your successes? Do you think your professors give you good grades because they like you? Do you feel like you’re not smart enough to be here? Yes, yes, and yes. How many times are you going to ask me? I ascertained my relationship with the Imposter Syndrome during the first three pages.
If you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome, you are better off googling the topic and reading a few articles. Just knowing about the Imposter Syndrome can probably help you more than this book.
I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads.