Apart from that very short definition, the word mimesis has a wide range of meanings in many fields of study, including philisophy, art, and ontology (the study of “being”). Mimesis has been studied by philosophers since Plato, who contrasted mimesis with diegesis (which means an expression through narrative). This contrasts showing, with telling. It has been argued that the purpose of our mimetic artistic expression is not necessarily to be completely faithful to the original being copied, but to draw attention to a specific aspect or aspects, of the original.
All human beings use representation to express themselves. Language itself is representational of ideas and written symbols are representational of language. We copy from nature when we express through art. The objects we make or build are representative of the ideas we had in our minds. As children, our identities are formed when we copy our parents, our peers and our culture.
Psychopaths’ mimetic behavior extends to the way they live their lives as if always on stage, requiring constant drama. It is as if their lives were mimesis of a real person’s life. They neglect the mundane aspects of their lives, while focusing all their attention on eliciting emotions from the audience.
Furthermore, when contrasting mimesis with diegesis, we can clearly see that the psychopath has no interest in expressing his thoughts or feelings through words. In fact, he cannot express his feelings because he repressed them and is unaware of them. Meanwhile those repressed emotions explode out onto the dramatic scenes he creates to manipulate his audience and victims.
Psychopaths are mimetic because they have no core being. This is the source of their envy. They want to acquire the “being” of others, so they copy others. This copying takes many forms, including when they mirror us and when they wear our skin. More specifically, they copy the emotions of others in order to elicit, through emotional contagion, emotions from their victims. In this way, the empathetic victim’s mirror neurons create emotions in the victim, which the psychopath never felt at all.« Back to Glossary Index