Psychopaths and Masks … Adjusting the Fit

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.

These masks that the psychopath wears can be fitted properly or not.  When our faces are exposed, we are completely visible to the world.  Maybe we say something that reflects our callousness or maybe we do not appear as emotional as those around us demand.  Having the mask slip is a good way to be shown the door by our acquaintances and families; they simply do not understand the cold and ruthless state that drives us.  Avoiding such is usually good policy.

However, just as masks can slip, they can be made to fit better.  Most individuals have a front in which they must remain in the shadows.  Possibly due to their gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or any number of other reasons, they learn to keep some things close to their breast.  This natural human experience allows the psychopath a unique advantage.  She is primed to stay in the shadows in other areas, so learning to stay in the dark with her lack of empathy and callousness is made easier.  For instance, I am transgender and the “masking” I do on a daily basis in order to be perceived as cisgender female trains my psychopathic masking well.  What is one mask when I am adept at another?

Psychopaths are often moving from group to group, bleeding dry their hosts and moving on to the next set of targets.  Each group will eventually learn of their wounds and will admonish the psychopath.  By listening to these complaints, the psychopath can determine where he has gone wrong and how to hide his intentions better in the future.  It is possible that the psychopath may not care, but the most dangerous psychopaths of all realize that they must evolve and adapt their tactics to the audience they are surrounded by.  The best psychopaths are conscious of this decision and have just the perfect persona to wear at any time.

The neurotypical should fear the adept psychopath.  As Clerkly noted, the most dangerous psychopaths are those that completely seal off their ‘insanity’ from prying eyes.  The best psychopaths have no separation between skin and mask: they are faceless yet everything the neurotypical wants to see in another person.

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