I suspect we all harbor doubts, but these people clearly don’t have enough to do.
Working to prove one’s self to one’s self may be admirable, but attending workshops in which you learn how to talk yourself into thinking you are competent seems like a waste of a lot of people’s time that might be better spent actually (if neurotically) doing something. (Chronicle linked by A&L – with, I suspect, some irony.) Faced with the eternal worth of literature and the fleeting worth of even pretty good literary criticism, it is small wonder that academics have moments of doubt. Still, this rather self-indulgent exercise doesn’t seem like a long-term remedy.
One of the hardest workers at my old business was clearly driven and thus terrible at delegating. She was, however, tireless in her industry and obsessive in her desire to get the orders done right. This pleased me and gave her a fleeting sense of accomplishment. Sure, we’d all have been better off if she weren’t quite so driven, but I can’t imagine such a workshop helping her – her doubts were real, just misplaced. I suspect that is often the case. For instance, she left the job and her husband for another woman – I hope she has found peace. If not, I bet she’s getting a hell of a lot of work done.