Lisa Diamond, PhD
Lisa Diamond shares her experiences of discouragement during her time as a graduate student. During a period when the LGBTQIA community was not as socially accepted as today (and still continues to fight for those rights), not much research had been done on queer youth. In fact, Ritch Savin-Williams was one of the few researchers of the time who had begun to show interest in the community, but when he began to publish works involving queer youth, students stopped applying to work with him. Lisa Diamond was one of the few who joined Savin-Williams, which helped cultivate her illustrious career in sexual fluidity, the concept that she is now widely known for. Despite her influential research on the queer youth, there are still times when Lisa Diamond had faced a sense of disconnection from the people in her field. The following video will expand on her struggles and how it has shaped her.
- The field of study she was a part of that many people had expressed disinterest in.
- The amount of professionalism in appearance a researcher is expected to present.
- The strong support from her mentors that eased the anxiety from the feeling of estrangement.
"Nobody was doing anything related to gay anything, and I would just look at these hundreds of other graduate students walking around wearing little suits and wearing heels and I just felt like I do not, I cannot be in this profession, like there's no place for me here, there's no place for what I'm doing."
For the video transcript, please see the bottom of the page.
"After a brief moment of elation, an uneasy feeling swept over me, and my stomach sunk. Intense thoughts were swirling through my head. 'What am I going to do ? I don't know how to be a therapist. My client is going to think I am a total fraud' ". - Margaret Edwards
As a graduate student experiencing such feelings of estrangement, Lisa Diamond was not alone. Several graduate students have expressed similar experiences where they felt as if they were not as "intelligent" or "accomplished" as everyone else in their field. Graduate students are given a different level of independence and responsibility than undergraduate students, and they are expected to be seen as competent and knowledgeable in their work. This type of pressure can be detrimental to a student's mental health, which is why it is always important to seek methods that could help alleviate or quell those feelings.
"My responsbilities were operating at full speed, but I wasn't. I was catching up on sleep between classes. I was eating cereal for most of my meals...I was tired constantly." - Megha Pulianda
One method that helped Lisa Diamond greatly was speaking to her mentor about it. By consulting with a supportive supervisor who understood the emotions the students were going through, it could alleviate that intense feeling of fraudulence. It should be noted that nobody is perfect and that being a graduate student does not mean you need to know the answer to everything. Having a good mentor means that there is always someone you can go to for help..
"I am now able to recognize my personal progress and growth instead of comparing myself to other students and professionals." Frederick Hives (The website includes several other graduate students who have experienced imposter syndromes and other methods that could help face imposter syndrome.)
It is interesting to note that while imposter syndrome can be detrimental to your mental health, it is not recognized as a psychiatric disorder. That said, there have been several research studies over the years that have focused on imposter syndrome. One research study compiled all published literature of it that were dated from January 1966 to May 2018, which then came to numerous conclusions from those studies:
- Most of the earlier literature on imposter syndrome focused on females. Half of the studies that looked into gender differences on imposter syndrome found that there was no difference in the rates of men and women suffering from it.
- Imposter syndrome seems to be prevalent among ethnic minorities.
- Half of the six studies that reported on age effects found that imposter syndrome declines with age, but the other half did not. This means that there is no sufficient evidence to prove that the effects of imposter syndrome decline with age.
- Depression and anxiety are frequently associated with imposter syndrome.
- There is a harmful association between imposter syndrome and job performance, job satisfaction, and burnout.
Page researched and written by Charlotte Peacock.