Friday, April 10, 2015

Masks


Psychologist Wilhelm Reich argued that our character is a mask or a set of masks.  We constantly encounter various pains in our life, pains caused mostly by other people.  “The other is my hell,” as Sartre put it tongue-in-cheek.  Our parents are our first hells, as little Wilhelm learnt personally.  His father used to beat him frequently.  His mother was a pain because she refused to intervene between little Wilhelm and the father’s cane.  When his mother started an affair with Wilhelm’s tutor, she added another pain to the boy’s psyche.  When the boy took revenge by informing his father about her affair, the boy added another pain to his mind because his father now started employing his cane on both of them until his mother committed suicide.

Our leaders have a different sort of Power Point
Parents, teachers, the society, priests of the religion – the list of hells that we have to endure is endless (especially in childhood, though pain seems to be the only faithful lifelong companion).  They invariably inflict some pains on us and we put up self-defence mechanisms.  These defence mechanisms create our personality, argued Wilhelm Reich. 

We describe persons as introverts or obsessive perfectionists or clumsy... The simple fact is that nobody wants to be an introvert, or an obsessive perfectionist or clumsy.  The introversion or the clumsiness is a mask, a defence mechanism, put up for shielding the individual from potential threats emanating from the hell that the other is.

We live in a world where masks are becoming increasingly important.  People who consider themselves religious are turning into menacing hells for us circumscribing our choices.  They insist on choosing the books that we will read, the movies that we will watch, the clothes we may wear, the food we can eat, the person one may marry...  They insist on writing or rewriting our history.  They insist on converting us into palimpsests.  Worst of all, they impose themselves on us as our leaders. 


12 comments:

  1. I agree totally we live in a world where masks are important, because people are not ready to accept if we remained ourselves or same with everyone, the mask change by the role we play and the transaction we are in. Very though provoking :)

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    1. The very word 'persona' means 'mask'. To some extent masks are unavoidable; we have to apply the gloss over the dark side of our selves :) But what's happening now is terrible: masks are sold to us with brute force!

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  2. I agree with you Sir, mask we all have donned because it's the pain, the society that are not ready to accept us without it. The real faces behind the masks are often Satanic....

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    1. Interestingly, Maniparna, Indian philosophy (call it Hinduism, if you prefer) never had the concept of the Satan. Thus it remained superior to the Western thoughts by refusing to polarise the good and the bad. But now we are bringing those polarities and making our philosophy inferior!

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  3. Masks are unavoidable.Some are determined by others and some are preferred by us.Maybe our lives are there for understanding the masks..!

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    1. I like your final sentence. Very deeply meaningful.

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  4. Thankfully, such religious people have not interfered with my life directly.. still, you know what, I put on that mask. Third para touched me!

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    1. Reich had such a terrible life that he was considered insane by many. His theories emerged from his experiences. This also illustrates how psychological and intellectual approaches are rooted in one's lived experiences.

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  5. so true sir, unfortunate and how! takes real mental strength and grit to be a person of your choice these days and not roam around with a mask!

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    1. Yeah, we are even denied the freedom to think freely.

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