Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

The Masks We Wear (by Drew Craner)

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The Masks We Wear

Within the last ten years or so there has been an increase in superhero movies released.  These heroes range from Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, and The Hulk.  Most of these heroes’ have a lot in common.  They are all for fighting for the greater good, conquering evil, and saving humanity.  They also wear various uniforms to help identify who they are.  Along with most uniforms also come the masks.  The reasons heroes wear masks are to protect their identity and the ones they care about.

How is this similar to someone dealing with a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety, bipolar and many more?  Those who struggle with mental illnesses usually hide their struggles in similar ways for numerous reasons just as heroes do.     

Why Masks?

To Hide Weaknesses

Superman has to be one of the most iconic superheroes in the world of heroes’.  He has superhuman strength, he has superhuman speed, he can fly, shoot lasers from his eyes, is almost invincible, and yet he still has a weakness: kryptonite.

Most, if not all, people don’t want to flaunt or show their weaknesses and flaws.  Those dealing with mental disorders often see these as their weaknesses, something that is not only a burden to them, but also to those closest around them.  So instead of having to deal with the outward battle, why not hide these emotions and “weaknesses.”  We all want to be seen as “superman” and “wonder woman” and we feel that if we are different because of depression then we cannot fall into those categories.  I can’t think of a bigger misunderstanding.  Those battling with depression, bipolar, and other mental disorders are the real heroes and are fighting the real battles within themselves.

People with disorders have enemies too.

Superheroes wear masks to hide their identity from their enemies so that they cannot identify who they are.  They want to remain anonymous to those they are fighting against for great reasons, so they can’t be targeted in the real world.

Unfortunately people that are struggling with disorders are targeted also.  There are people out there who either intentionally, or unknowingly strike war with those who are struggling with their own disorders.  They hide from the ridicule of others and the opinions of those who believe disorders are just figments of people’s imaginations.

Mental disorders are no different than illnesses such as cancer, asthma, and diabetes.  It is not something to simply wish away or magically disappear, and these disorders are no different.  Which leads to the most difficult enemy to fight, the person who is personally struggling with this disorder.  It can be a daily battle that can last a lifetime without proper help.

Managing disorders.

In the first Marvel Avenger’s movie a character known as Bruce Banner has a condition where when he gets angry he transforms into what is called “The Hulk.”  In one of the ending scenes of the movie Bruce Banner is about to confront one of the enemies terrorizing the city.  Captain America asks him to change into the Hulk and Bruce Banner’s response to the comment is “that’s my secret captain, I’m always angry.”  He then proceeds to change into the Hulk.  What is different about this time is the control he has over his anger compared to various times he changes.

This is similar to disorders, in that some can be managed and controlled when they begin to show symptoms.  Other disorders cannot be so easily managed and may require more serious help and aid.  Asking for help or aid is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.  Everyone needs help at some point and there are those that are always willing to help when we need the extra hand.

Support System.

Another obvious comparison between heroes and those suffering from mental disorders is that both generally have some type of support system.  Heroes have supporting fans that support their causes for fighting crime and trying to make the world a better place.

Whether it comes from family, friends, online support groups, or counsellors and social workers there is an array of people who are constantly cheering and offering their help to aid those who are in constant battle with themselves. Those involved in these battles have no reason to hide from their support and the ones who want to help fight alongside.

Real Superheroes

Hollywood has done an excellent job of creating different hero’s that have variety of powers, strengths and even weaknesses.  Most prove to be invincible and incorruptible.  What Hollywood portrays usually does not pass over into real life.  There are real people in the real world that have real enemies and are the real heroes in a very real battle.  They have no reason to hide or to be ashamed but should be able to open up and receive the help they deserve.


About the Author: Drew Craner

Drew CranerDrew is a freelance writer and a full time college student, majoring in marriage and family therapy.  He currently resides in Boise Idaho and is loves life there.  He plays basketball and runs as often as possible. Drew has set high goals set for himself and is looking forward to accomplishing them.”

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2 Comments

Susan Gisella Ilona Barr

Keep up the wonderful work Drew, you are such an inspiration not only to those suffering with a mental illness, but to those who want to help them get well. Great information! I look forward to reading more of your articles. Cheers, and a wonderful Christmas to you all! Suzy!

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Turenne

I usually hear talks about wearing a mask as negative and shameful.

I love here the comparison to superheroes.
Indeed the struggles we fight when wearing a mask is what should be put into light for more awareness, consciousness, demystification and better communication and understanding.

This a very inspiring article to dance our soul as I like to say for every steps we make in activating our inner strength to simply Be.

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