I have just watched a video about a narcissist made by somebody exposing that person together with the person the narcissist copied and then had the audacity to hint to her followers on multiple occasions that it is the other way around.

The thing I’m taking issue with is not anything the creators in the video are talking about. It’s one of those stupid duty calls moments. It is that @nerdcity at one point in that video - very likely on accident - says the word ‘imposter syndrome’ to describe the behaviour of the narcissistic person. That triggered me in particular, because I identify as a person suffering from the imposter syndrome.

What I am experiencing is something, that does only affect me and my mood. I share that affliction with one of my coworkers. We both are seasoned experts. He does development and data engineering for 20+ years and I am doing system automation for 20+ years. But we both have moments, particularly when we are not able deliver something in - in our eyes - perfect shape and/or on time, were we think of ourselves as incompetent, as failures and therefore feel as if we are ‘just faking’ our own competence.

We do work in a rather fast paced industry which involves you in constantly learning new things, engaging in refactoring and re-inventing on a very regular basis. This is sometimes referred to as ‘The red queen effect’ based on a line of the mad hatter in Alice in wonderland, who tells Alice “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”. But it is not exclusive to any industry in my opinion. I think it is very common amongst experts, who are, as Nils Bohr said just people, who in a very narrow field have exhausted all the mistakes. But if an expert has to complete a task that is just adjacent to this narrow field, one might still find new mistakes to make, fail to ask for help and then feel incompetent.

Now the situation at hand was to me very classic narcissist move. I have tried to summarize this in a tweet, which incidently also was in response to somebody victimized by a person eerily similar to the one discussed in the video, just from a very different context.

The tweet says:

narcissistic personality disorder 🤝 projecting your issues to anyone you can’t deceive

The person discussed in the video is a very successful youtuber who first was a fake gamer and now does very run-of-the-mill reaction-content. The person we were talking about is a person from the infosec community, that got famous with very flaky, self-proclaimed research and shows very similar behavior. When somebody calls them out, they both do not step back, they do not admit to any contextual mistake, they go on the offense. They rail up their followers against them, they make insane accusations (most of them will be removed shortly after being send, the damage being already done) usually revolving around the exact thing, they are doing themselves.

People with imposter syndrome are in my experience very open to constructive criticism and sometimes even take it too hard.