"Fake Personalities" as a social safety net

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Rorberyllium
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11 Sep 2012, 2:27 am

I wasn't really sure how to properly word this, but it's something I've done for a long time. When I find myself in a mandatory social situation I'm uncomfortable with, I'll often times adopt a different persona for the purposes of getting through that particular interaction. It's a pretty obvious act that I feel most people can see through, but it doesn't stop me from doing it. It's not dissociative identity disorder or "split personalities", as it's something I'm generally well aware of and is used more as a tool. When I'm in a social situation I'm uncomfortable with that can be avoided, I generally just avoid it.

Usually it's how i get through phone conversations (I absolutely hate talking on the phone and put on a fake "phone voice"), interacting with most people at my last job (I had a "work persona" that I brought out for such occasions) and interacting with family members (whom I'm not comfortable with seeing my "true self" as I fear they wouldn't understand).

It's like the character of Jerry Espenson in the tv show Boston Legal. When a situation got too stressful he'd put a wooden cigarette in his mouth and adopt a completely new persona. In his case it was actually recommended to him by his therapist, but still proved to do him more harm than good.

I don't particularly like having to do this, but I don't really know any other way to go about it. Does anyone else have any experience with this, and do you have any tips for weaning oneself off of such an act?



Raziel
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11 Sep 2012, 3:55 am

I don't think that you have Borderline, but maybe this video helps you anyway.

It remindet me on this video:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do6owMR1hSY[/youtube]


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Rorberyllium
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11 Sep 2012, 4:32 am

Not sure how that relates to what I was talking about, but because of that I ended up reading about BPD and now you got me thinking that I have it. I only deal with those symptoms when interacting with specific people though (my former partners specifically). Not sure what that means.

What I was referring to in the OP was something very different. Watch the video I hotlinked to to get an idea.



Last edited by Rorberyllium on 11 Sep 2012, 5:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Raziel
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11 Sep 2012, 4:58 am

Hm, so far I remember Attwood writes about it, that autistic people sometimes "act", but this also doesn't seem right. :?

I kind of know what you mean. I sometimes have this too, that I "switch" and I searched for it and never really found a satified explenation. :(


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Jeanna
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11 Sep 2012, 6:55 am

I do something like this most of the time in social situations. In my case, I usually watch how other people behave, pick out some of their expression and behaviours, and use them myself when I don't know how to act. I have an act that I do when I'm with my friends where I adopt some of the actions and behaviours of people who do well socially, but I have to know in advance if I'm going to have to be in a social situation so that I can sort of prime myself to behave the "right" way. If I don't have fair warning, I just shut up the whole time because I don't know what to do and generally just feel really out of sorts.

I'm not sure if this is what you're referring to, but I think I can sort of understand what you're saying.



Sharkgirl
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11 Sep 2012, 6:59 am

This is something that others have reported
Check out Carol Williams book nobody nowhere.
I definitely do this too but in a more subtle way than Carol.
It annoys me cause I naturally try to not stand out for fear of social retribution so then not knowing what to do I mimic the others around me. It's more confusing with groups of people with different personalities cause I don't know which one to mimic and just stand there stupified. I wish I just had the confidence to be me like when I was a child or a teenager but back the. People thought I was weird and obnoxious and avoided me. So trying to strike a balance between my true self and the self that others want to see.
You can't please everyone but sometimes I loose myself trying to. I hate that part a lot I just wanna be me and be accepted not sure if both are possible.


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Sharkgirl
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11 Sep 2012, 7:00 am

This is something that others have reported
Check out Carol Williams book nobody nowhere.
I definitely do this too but in a more subtle way than Carol.
It annoys me cause I naturally try to not stand out for fear of social retribution so then not knowing what to do I mimic the others around me. It's more confusing with groups of people with different personalities cause I don't know which one to mimic and just stand there stupified. I wish I just had the confidence to be me like when I was a child or a teenager but back the. People thought I was weird and obnoxious and avoided me. So trying to strike a balance between my true self and the self that others want to see.
You can't please everyone but sometimes I loose myself trying to. I hate that part a lot I just wanna be me and be accepted not sure if both are possible.


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bnky
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11 Sep 2012, 8:30 am

I've thought that was a typical NT trait!
Apparently call-centre and sales staff (at the company where I used to work) are trained to perfect it.



GreyGirl
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11 Sep 2012, 9:04 am

I am a total mimic. It seems to be my strongest coping mechanism. It's almost like a personal cloaking device in social situations. I do get embarrassed with this though because I easily mimic dialects as well. If I'm with anyone with a different dialect than my own, I wind up speaking just like them. I frequently have to apologize to people and remind them that I'm not poking fun, it's just something my brain does.


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Domisoldo
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11 Sep 2012, 9:41 am

I tend to mimic the person I'm speaking with... And in some situations, I become someone else's copy. For example, when dealing with sister's friends, I'll start acting and talking like her. 8O Also, when I teach vocal lessons, I tend to be a lot like the teacher had for years : personality, mood, tone of voice, comments... 8O It's not something I "decide" to do... It just happens and I notice it. I'm still me. It's more like a cloak I wear. I think it's normal (NT normal) to mimic the persons you're interacting with to some extent. It's a way to earn acceptance, to show that you're "part of the tribe", or can be. I even read once that waitresses who mimic their customers earn bigger tips. :lol: But in the two examples I mentioned, I think it's a bit too much. :roll:



TheSunAlsoRises
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11 Sep 2012, 9:50 am

bnky wrote:
I've thought that was a typical NT trait!
Apparently call-centre and sales staff (at the company where I used to work) are trained to perfect it.


It is a very typical practice by Non-Autistics for both personal and professional reasons.

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11 Sep 2012, 10:05 am

.....let me clarify, something.

This is part of the socialization process. It does not necessarily equate to 'fake personalities'.

There is an old expression that goes "A person wears many different hats'.

This simply means that an individual fulfills a multitude of roles each having different expectations.

For example: A lady can be a daughter, grand-daughter, wife, sister, parent, CEO of a corporation, etc and each of these roles may require different facets of her personality with minimal to significant cross-over.

I'm speaking in terms of....... Non-Autistics here.

For Autistics, I suspect the differences in socialization produces other outcomes in perception and practice of such roles.

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kBillingsley
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11 Sep 2012, 10:38 am

I am a different person to everyone I meet.



Rorberyllium
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11 Sep 2012, 12:25 pm

bnky wrote:
I've thought that was a typical NT trait!
Apparently call-centre and sales staff (at the company where I used to work) are trained to perfect it.


Wow, only been here a day and already have some accuse me of being neurotypical. Well that might not have been what you were going for, but the use of bolding made it feel like I was on trial and Von Karma was slamming his hands on a desk.

Maybe this is something NT folks are taught or pick up on, but they definitely have a greater grasp of subtlety and naturalness to the act.

These aren't "different facets of my personality". These are obvious "characters" that I'm portraying.
I usually end up picking out the most obnoxious aspects to a greatly exaggerated effect. People have told me my phone voice sounds like the infomercial narrator guy cranked up to eleven. I imagine if I brought it out at a call centre job I'd recieve multiple warnings and be fired day one.

My work persona contained obvious combinations of traits from the training videos and such that could not exist in a human being. I had numerous people ask me drop it, to just "be myself" but doing so would generally get me in more trouble, and when faced with a stressful situation I would just freeze up and become useless.



btbnnyr
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11 Sep 2012, 12:49 pm

I don't do this, and I don't know how to do this.

I have always thought that this adopting of different fake personalities was more of an NT trait than an autistic trait, the bester to fit in amongst different people in different situations, like the flexible socializing style that NTs have, but autistics lack.

I certainly lack this, because I don't know what kind of fake personality to adopt in what kind of situation around what kind of people, but if someone told me what to do, then I would still not be able to do it beyond a sentence or two, because I would not understand what I am doing, and if someone told me what to do and why I was doing it, then I would be able to understand in theory the personality that I am faking, but I would still suck supremely at faking the personality in practice.

In short, I don't think that I could do this. It is not an option for me. I have heard other autistic people say that they can do this, and they do it regularly, and I have heard the same from NTs. I think that almost all NTs do this verry merry berry regularly, and they do it much bester than autistics do. Fake phone voice is one of the simplest eggsamples, but there are so many possibilities, like a different personality to fake around each different person. I have heard some people say that they are masters of personality faking, and eberryone likes them, because they fake their personalities so well for each one of the eberry.