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.