Is Masking a Bad Thing?

12 Oct 2023




minute read

Last Updated

Dec 8, 2023

Masking describes how someone consciously or subconsciously changes their behaviours in order to fit in with those around them. Read about why people mask if you want to find out more.

The benefits of masking

Some people find masking useful as it allows them to control how they are perceived by others around them. Other benefits of masking include:

🟢 Adaptation to Social Situations: Masking allows individuals to fit in and navigate social situations more comfortably. It also might allow people to feel more socially accepted and reduce any anxieties around socialising.

🟢 Protection of Emotional Wellbeing: Masking can act as a shield, so if you are rejected or hurt by others it might feel less upsetting than if this were to happen when someone was unmasked.

🟢 Respect for Personal Boundaries: Masking enables people to maintain their personal boundaries and privacy. It allows them to decide what aspects of themselves they want to share with others. This is a large contributor to why people mask in professional environments.

The challenges of masking

However, masking can have some negative effects on people such as:

🔵 Emotional Exhaustion: It's tiring to continually effortfully compensate. Those who mask often feel worn out from the constant effort. A typical example is that people collapse at home after being out, relieved but fatigued.

🔵 Loss of Authenticity: Continuous masking can lead to a detachment from one's true self, causing feelings of alienation, derealisation, or depersonalisation. It can also make people feel disconnected from others around them.

🔵 Risk of Misdiagnosis or Missed Diagnosis: Constantly camouflaged symptoms can be overlooked by professionals, leading to incorrect treatment or support. Underlying diagnoses could be missed or misconstrued.

For neurodivergent people, masking can be more harmful than for neurotypical masking as neurodivergent people face more pressure to hide their authentic selves due to stigma and shame around neurodivergence. Studies suggest that autistic people who mask experience more symptoms of anxiety and depression. To combat this, we can work to create a more neuroinclusive environment so people feel comfortable to be their authentic selves and not feel obligated to mask unless they choose to.

Everyone’s experience with masking is different. Sign up to Noetic's launch list to dive deeper into your neuroprofile and experience of masking 🚀