People who are born with, or have suffered, disfigurement, are very often scared in their dealings with other people almost every social situation. Disfiguring impairments include those with a potential to interfere with or otherwise disturb social relationships with other people. This includes conditions that may be the consequence of specific diseases, such as disfigurement, as well as disorders that may impair control of bodily functions in the manner that is customary and socially acceptable.
Deviations from facial stereotypes have become synonymous with uncertainty and discomfort. Certain facial features (such as clear skin, rosy complexion, well-defined eyes) are sufficient in themselves to enhance social standing. Disfigurement distorts and disorganizes the signalling mechanism in interpersonal relations. Facial movements (such as smiles or frowns) are misinterpreted or unacknowledged. The absence of good looks is frequently associated with suspicious character. Disfigurement is a major obstacle to forming relationships, securing jobs and using public transport, for example. Children suffer particular problems from being teased. Many benefit from counselling and self-assertiveness training to help cope with being stared at, shunned or mocked.
People's responses to disfigurement makes victims vulnerable. It robs them of privacy and dignity. Apprehension and dread, in addition to the normal social anxieties and nervousness, accompany disfigured people wherever they go as they wait for the inevitable questions: jokey, curious, pitying. Disfigurement is associated with the darker side of culture. It is the damaged, the deformed, the bad and the ugly. Attitudes are struck in responses of ridicule, rejection, contempt, humiliation and defeat or a grossly maudlin and misdirected pity.
Rejection of the disfigured is at its basis a biological drive to reproduce only the best of the species. It is a survival instinct. While any one individual does not have to succumb to this instinct most are quite unaware of it and simply follow it.