We’ve all watched a spy thriller every now and then where the main character (or one of the other characters) has another identity.
There’s just something delicious about finding out at the end of the movie that someone that we thought we knew — was secretly this other person all along.
Of course, in real life, it would not be fun to figure this out about someone — but with fiction, it’s an amazing trope, especially when it’s delivered so effectively.
While fictional personas are seen as cheap gimmicks, contemporary research suggests that personas may harbour some real-life psychological benefits.
For example, let's say that you’re struggling to express yourself. Perhaps that alter ego will give you that push to become that other person you wish to be. You play the part until it becomes an integrated part of you.
Alter egos, it could be argued, are a form of self-distancing. Instead of running directly into our emotions, it is processed outside of us, only for it to eventually become a part of ourselves.
Basically, instead of forcing a new integrated identity onto ourselves, a piece of a new identity is projected outward, and then internally accepted (but only on our terms).
If you think about it, self-distancing is quite helpful.
Celebrities may do it all the time, such as famous singers, dancers, and performers. Beyonce had Sasha Fierce. David Bowie had Ziggy Stardust. Eminem had Slim Shady.
As the writer Tapan Ghosh once said,
“The best way to ease your anxiety while waiting for a decision is to move into your alter ego.”
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