Psychopaths speak of masks a lot. The use of the term ‘mask’ in conjunction with psychopaths originated with Hervey Cleckley’s Mask of Sanity which posited that psychopaths often appear normal, but really they are masking the “insanity” that lies underneath. ‘Insanity’ to Cleckley was merely an adjective to describe antisocial behavior, not literal madness. In recent years, with the advent of the Internet, psychopaths have begun to use the term in a very similar fashion. The masks we speak of are our personas and our abilities for misdirection. Such lets psychopaths appear ‘normal’ in a land that is hostile to our existence.
This is a very brief post featuring a question I received over on Tumblr. I should be back to full posts tomorrow.
Now I know the answer “don’t be stupid” probably applies here, but from your own perspective, how would you keep people from finding out that you’re a psychopath if you’ve allowed yourself to be maskless for a period of time that has caused it to be ill-fitting?
It’s tricky. Yes, every time you take the mask off, it becomes harder to put on. I think the key is to play off people’s naivety. People assume that they are surrounded by “good” people and – honestly – most do not even think of the term ‘psychopath’ at any point in their lives unless it has been brought up. They might think you are off, but I highly doubt, unless they are trained in psychology, that they’ll consider ASPD, much less psychopathy.
I suppose that it is better not to let the mask slip in the first place, but as a relatively open psychopath, I’d be hypocritical to suggest that you *must* do so.
How do my readers deal with such a situation?
We will return to the ‘What is Psychopathy?’ arc tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to answer a very fascinating question that I received from a reader. They ask:
I enjoy your blog very much. Your introspection is very perceptive and I find your posts interesting and informative. I wanted to ask you about your relationship with animals. Animals are known to be keen on sensing people’s feelings and their mood, and since psychopaths brain’s are wired a little differently from neurotypicals, I wondered if that would arouse different reactions from them. Have animals been able to sense that you are some what different? Do they treat you differently?
And my response:
I do think it is important for the psychopath to live authentically. Ignoring the backlash from society, living openly as a psychopath (at least in limited circles) allows one to experience relief from the demands of wearing a mask in those areas of life that would be less tolerant. Yes, maybe you lose a few friends – or gain with your “bravery” – but is not the authentic self worth that risk? That is, even if the circles in which one can be themselves are narrow, the experience of not having to hide is worth a lot. Society is starting to be accepting of the open homosexual or transgender person, understanding that only a vicious cruelty could dictate otherwise. Should not the same extend to the psychopath, even if in a limited fashion?
Asking society to accept the unmasked state of the psychopath is not the focus of this post, however. Instead, I wish to give an account of the hidden dangers of living openly in a limited fashion. Namely, that it becomes harder to mask oneself when the feeling of being open part of the time is so euphoric.
Regret is not an appropriate word for my feelings toward my transgender state. I don’t wish that I could go back and live a cisgender life, but, at the time time, I would not be opposed to such a hypothetical reversion. There are drawbacks, of course, given society’s fear and disdain toward transgender individuals. The careful eye and ear can probably determine that something is “off” about me, although unless one is attuned to the characteristics of transgender people, I am usually able to blend in with the crowd. In many ways, my place in the world is similar to the tattoos that litter my arms. Depending on how careful I am, the edges can be seen peeking out from underneath my long sleeves, but the true gravity of my difference is kept out of sight.