Friday, October 7, 2011

How Are Psychopaths Without Social Masks? (Part 1)

A Reader asks:
Would it be better for you and your kind to not have to put on a mask? If we released you from social etiquette?
I think it would probably be better some of the time for some psychopaths as well as normal people. But it would be better - especially for normal people - to not be under quite as much pressure to wear masks all the time as is the case today, mostly because the masks of modern day is too narrow and two dimensional to be natural for most people.

It is a problem for normal people much more than it is for psychopaths, because psychopaths can easier change and mold different social masks according to different social settings. And the more stereotypical the masks, the easier they are to mimic, whereas normal people tend to become their "masks" to a higher degree than psychopaths do, and since their emotional life plays a far more important and central role in their lives it goes without saying that narrow masks cannot be ideal in the long run.

That said, normal people have a "core personality" that stays with them even outside of social settings. It may be a personality which is shaped from a combination of social masks, but it is unique to them and central to their identity. This is where the importance of a healthy rapport between the emotional life of the individual and how it corresponds with your given masks, your social roles in life, comes into play.

For me there is no clearly defined personality outside of my masks. And I have many. I can to a large extent choose which mask I will put on according to the setting and my purpose with interacting with the people who's daily stage in life it is, for whom it defines and represents who and what they are.

I do have as strong a sense of being 'me' as everybody else, I just cannot relate it to or define it by the social labels and values that mainstream society uses to identify an individual as different from other individuals. In that sense I am the masks I put on, and without a mask I have no real identity as distinguishable from other people's identities - not outside of my personal inner sense of 'self', and without an outside observable identity I don't really exist.

Paradoxically, because of this I am even more defined by my social masks when I do carry them. They are what I am to others, even though to me they are little more than how I communicate today.

We can liken the personality of a psychopath to a person who has an unusual knack for languages. The majority of psychopaths (though not all) therefore speak many foreign languages fluently, but we have no native language. And since native language is what defines a person's national heritage, no matter how fluently I speak a foreign language I will never understand it like you understand your mother language, the first language you learned when you first began to speak, which you grew up with, and by which you learned to speak foreign languages.

Now use this allegory on everything that has to do with social human interaction and relation or relationship and you will see how unthinkable it would be for a psychopath to not have social masks. 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this answer Zhawq,
It’s true that many people nowadays wear a mask for everything, that’s perhaps, the key word “a mask”. The only difference is that a Psycopath/Sociopath wear many masks, not only one. If I was a psychopath I would see my masks as part of my personality. I’m used to behave different depending on the occasion and that’s part of me, I wouldn’t even define it as a mask… just part of who I am and I’m not talking about split personality. I do think being just one way would kill me of boredom, but like you say that’s only part of my ‘core’ personality…
But the question now is… are there masks you wear that are absolutely irritating or you like all of them? What define which mask you will wear? Something you feel deep inside or a mental process? I am what I want to be when I feel to… how would that apply to you if you can’t feel? I do think you –at some extent – can feel the ‘need’ to wear one. If P/S are guided by instinct, they must ‘feel’
Susan

Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping it up - this is a really good blog. And please keep on moderating the comments as well. I prefer it this way.

Zhawq said...

Anonymous/Susan 3:00AM:

Thanks for this answer Zhawq

You're welcome, Susan. It's my pleasure, and I learn something too when I write.


I’m used to behave different depending on the occasion and that’s part of me, I wouldn’t even define it as a mask… just part of who I am and I’m not talking about split personality.

I think this is how it is for most people.
A thought experiment: Imagine that you are an elite swimmer who spend most of your time training for the Olympics, so you turn up at your prom in a swim suit because that's the center of who you are?
Not very likely, eh?

You pose some great questions. I've noted them and will answer as soon as possible, so hang on!... '^L^,

Zhawq said...

Anonymous 3:40:

please keep on moderating the comments as well. I prefer it this way.

I was surprised at first to find that so many of those who wrote me to say the same thing as you do here. But on further thought I've decided it's the right thing to do.

So yes, I'm going to keep moderation on Psychopathic Writings!... '^L^,

Bella said...

I so much like the subject of wearing masks. I learned to put one very powerful one on a long time ago. I used the shit out of it, too! It is my default mask. I still like it but only because it is easy. I imagine it slipping and I get a little happy because I have been outgrowing it.

Is there a default mask that psychopaths go to?

Anonymous said...

ZHAWQ. Loving that you are answering everything. I have a lot of questions. I want to understand fully.

BELLA. wow. I loved it ! I never thought of it as a 'default' mask... maybe that's the right term. It may sound bad but I'm proud of the ability I possess at wearing masks, the ability to mimic anyone. It's a gift to be honest.
Susan

Andreas said...

Great post! I especially like how you compare NT and P/S; you don't over-stress the differences, you simply state them. That is a rare skill that sets you far above most writers.


I define myself by my goals. Essentially, my goals are who I am, and I adapt to obtain those goals. My core would be my 'preferences' in how I go about achieving those goals. I won't do just ANYTHING to get what I want but the consequences of my actions and their impact on my goals are all that really stop me.

I never thought of myself as wearing masks. I fundamentally change many aspects of myself, based on different situations (as many others do), yet I've been fortunate because I rarely have felt any 'strain' from 'wearing a mask'. The only reason I can readily recognize/relate to this topic is because on a number of occasions, I have noticed that if I have no immediate or longterm goals, I can be at somewhat of a loss, as to how to act. Yet I never feel hollow.

How pleasing, we came to the same conclusion: that strong emotions play a fundamental and lasting role, beyond the masks. :)

Ettina said...

"I do have as strong a sense of being 'me' as everybody else, I just cannot relate it to or define it by the social labels and values that mainstream society uses to identify an individual as different from other individuals. In that sense I am the masks I put on, and without a mask I have no real identity as distinguishable from other people's identities - not outside of my personal inner sense of 'self', and without an outside observable identity I don't really exist."

Is this a psychopath thing, or is it just because you grow up surrounded by people who are different from you, and therefore don't have the experience early in childhood of being genuinely part of a group?