[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 1965

The Mask of Sanity.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(3):482-484. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870030162061

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In 1941 I read a book which had a tremendous influence on my medical thinking, an influence that lasts right up to today. Now my thinking has been reinforced by the fourth edition of the same book—one which every physician, every criminologist, and every psychiatrist, in fact every layman who would like to be well educated, ought to be reading. It is Dr. Hervey Cleckley's The Mask of Sanity.

Dr. Cleckley called it The Mask of Sanity, because the people he describes seem to be sane. Legally they have to be classed as sane; they don't fit into a mental hospital because they are bright and attractive; they talk and argue sensibly and they have no delusions or hallucinations; but in one most distressing way they lack sanity—they just cannot behave themselves in our civilization.

Like mischievous children in grown-up bodies, they are always getting themselves arrested, but their crimes

First Page Preview View Large
First page PDF preview
First page PDF preview