In theatre, an understudy is a performer who learns the lines and blocking/ choreography of a leading actor. In this case the Psychopath is the leading actor and his understudy is "The Victim" who mimics his lines, actions and choreography. It is two people playing the same part, the understudy taking on the performance of the leading man.
The Psychopath does this to his victim by forcing her to become his understudy and "Acting like it didn't happen" , he is already acting like the abuse didn't happen anyway but he needs to coerce his victim into believing and acting the same way also.
Psychopaths are drawn to the theatre, born thespians, because they like being in front of an audience, seeking applause and stardom. Even in normal life, they will assign people roles, using black and white thinking, saying so and so is good or bad. They like to play act. They have panache. They walk around acting as if they are the most important people in the world. Only their opinions are right or matter.
Presentation Is Everything
Psychopaths can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming. To some people, however, they seem too slick and smooth, too obviously insincere and superficial. Astute observers often get the impression that psychopaths are play-acting, mechanically, "reading their lines".
Professor Hare describes the Psychopath as "knowing the words but not the music" Psychopaths lie for the sake of lying. They can convey the deepest heart-felt message without meaning a word of it. They can also tell the most outrageous stories simply in order to be at the center of attention and to get what they want. An acting performance lacking true substance
The psychopath is an actor in a continuing drama, yet forced to remain behind the scenes. After witnessing their repetitive actions over and over it will seem to appear like he is reading from a script. The performance the psychopath gives is hollow and lacking in substance, there is not depth nor "feeling" to their performance. The psychopath wants and is centre stage, he is the centre of attention.
Why does he thrive on an audience to perform for? Psychopaths calculate how to get the most out of a situation ie: "How do I get her to agree / give me/ get attention from this situation" Every psychopaths style is different even though they are all after the same thing they develop their own custom strategies to achieve the outcome they desire.
A psychopath is likened sometimes to a dictator, in rising to power dictators do not need to hide their actions because no one can hold them to accountability. They bully nations and populations the way a child bully, bullies his playmates in school. It is the ultimate fix of grandiosity. Psychopaths like dictators DO hide their filthy deeds, they work very hard at deceiving people into believing they are good. Once they feel secure in the situation (Relationship/Status) only then does the mask slip and they show their true colours.
Let's pretend that we are children again. We're being Superboy or Supergirl, pretending that we can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Then some other kid comes up and asks, "What are you doing?"
You reply, "I'm leaping a tall building in a single bound. See?"
Then he says, "That isn't a tall building. That's nothing but a stick lying on the ground."
What's going to happen? You know, don't you? You are going to get angry with him. But why? Is it because you care what he thinks? No, what he thinks won't even cross your mind. By that I mean that what he thinks isn't even a consideration.
No, what makes you angry with your little playmate is the fact that he is reminding you that you are just pretending. He is reminding you that your fantasy isn't true. He intrudes on it with reality, making it hard for you to maintain the fantasy that you are leaping a tall building with a single bound.
In other words, he spoils all your fun. That's what makes you mad. That's what makes you stomp your little foot at him and try to make him stop it. He is threatening your delusion of grandeur.
Now turn the clock ahead. You have grown up, but the psychopath hasn't. You don't need imaginary friends and imaginary superpowers anymore. But every psychopath does. He plays the role of you in this story: they get mad at anyone not playing along with their fantasy, with anyone who reminds them IN ANY WAY that it isn't true. They go off at anyone threatening their delusions of grandeur by not following their script in a lifelong game of Pretend. Source
This explains the mind-boggling fact of them punishing every good deed you do for them! By coming to their aid, or trying to convince them they are wrong, you have reminded them that they are not Superman or Superwoman, so look out. You are challenging the existence of their imaginary self -- a god towering above us all, a god who could never be brought so low as to need the help of anyone.
In all circumstances the psychopath wants the LEAD ROLE, he wants to be the star, the god of the drama playing out in your front room daily.
When The Actor Loathes To Have An Audience
Psychopaths are constantly adapting to their environment, when their environment changes so does their strategy For example: When a psychopath cannot get a positive reaction (Admiration / Attention) he will settle for the next best thing ie: "negative attention" Only in front of the victim(s) does the Psychopath show his true colours and how much of a evil doer he is. This is always , almost done behind closed doors, this is the ONE time the Psychopath loathes to have an audience for fear of them finding out just how "He gets his fix" because the psychopaths abusiveness is part of a lifelong campaign of control and because he is careful to rationalize his abuse, it is extremely difficult to explain to other people what is so bad about him.
He treads very carefully when deciding the "how's and when's" of engaging in his abuse.
The Psychopath is also very secretive, a characteristic of almost all abusers (“Don’t wash our dirty laundry in public!”) and will punish you for telling anyone else what he has done. The times and locations of his worst abuses are carefully chosen so that no one who might intervene will hear or see his bad behavior, and he will seem like a completely different person in public.
Once the final curtain has dropped his shining status of brilliance is demoted to "Demanding Diva"
He will talk badly about you to other people, but will always embed his devaluing nuggets of snide gossip in protestations of concern, love and understanding (“I feel so sorry for her, She always seems to have such a hard time, but I just don’t know what I can do for her!”)
The Psychopath may be an excellent actor, always appearing charming, calm, and collected. They usually have a normal or above normal intelligence level and good verbal fluency. It is these qualities that sometimes place the sociopath in leadership positions within their social groups and often make it hard to spot their "black side"
Faking Those Emotions - A True Acting Performance
Psychopaths are masters at faking emotions in order to manipulate others. One psychologist reported that if you actually catch them in the act of committing a crime, or telling a lie, "they will immediately justify their actions by self pity and blaming another, by creating a heart-rending scene of faked emotional feelings." These fake emotions are only for effect, as the careful observer will note. The point I am trying to make is, "If nobody hold the psychopath accountable, he is able to carry on his abusive tactics and ruin other lives in the process" because the psychopath wants his victim to "Forget or act like it didn't happen" which is further abuse.
He may not EVER admit what he did, let alone admit he was wrong. Neither does he show remorse. He believes "what should I apologise for?" since he doesn't and cannot admit he is wrong and he isn't contrite he will therefore think "Why should I refrain from what I am doing" Right the wrongs he did? he doesn't believe it happened in the first place, or that he did wrong. Even if he took all your money and sunk it into the casino , he isn't required to repair the damage done to his victim. Does he offer the victim assurances he won't ever do it again? why should he?
He hasn't been required to admit what he did, let alone that anything he did was wrong. He isn't sorry. Quite the contrary today he is as happy as a lark , as though his rage towards the victim yesterday relieved a bad case of constipation. He incurred no liability, so he pays NO price (You - The Victim pays the price for what he did) So why should the psychopath offer any guarantees that he won't do it again? do WHAT again?
The bottom line is...the victim did nothing wrong = he has every right to do it again. By forgiving the unforgivable, you have given him reason to carry on abusing. "Repentance" is missing here , it isn't just a religious term it is just as essential in a secular context.
Without the psychopaths repentance there cannot be any reconciliation between the offender and offendee. A state of war/hostilities still exists, because the offender attacked and without any assurances to the contrary, presumably will attack again!
"You must treat someone you know is going to attack you as a friend?" NO, we trust friends. So therefore should the victim trust an enemy? must you tolerate an enemy in your home? must you be vulnerable to an enemy by allowing him in a close relationship with you? must you let him within an arm's reach of you? ... get real of course not!
Imagine that just yesterday, the psychopath in your life abused you. He or she flew into a rage at you. Maybe they beat you. Maybe they spread vicious lies about you. Maybe they deeply wounded one of the children. Whatever. They attacked you, or a loved one, and treated the victim like dirt.
Now today the narcissist walks into the room acting as though it didn’t happen.
What are you to do?
Are you to act as though it didn’t happen, too?
If you don't keep that threat (The Psychopath) at bay you are inviting it in willingly. If you continue "acting as though it didn't happen" you are inviting the psychopath to re abuse you over and over again.
This goes to show why "honesty is the best policy" by acting as if it didn't happen you are acting out a lie. It DID happen. if you lie or act as thought it didn't you are lying about the very nature of your relationship with the psychopath, you are portraying it as a friendly relationship when the reality is "it is a hostile one" , a predatory one in which you are the prey.
When a ravenous wolf comes out to play no sheep would be stupid enough to associate with the wolf as though a state of peace exists between them, so why are victims pressured to associate with a psychopathic abuser as though a state of peace exists between them? that's not only crazy but it's a LIE in deed.
It's a catch - 22, even though you MUST resist and refuse to act as though it didn't happen, you CANT. why? because a psychopath FORCES you to behave as he wants you to. He exploits the decency, goodwill and humanity in you to force you to act as if it didn't happen. Time and time again, the psychopath erases yesterday's assault and abuse on you by forcing you to act today as though it didn't happen. How? By throwing one of his well rehearsed temper tantrums. That's it. No brilliant grand strategy, nothing but the old, stamping of feet and fisticuffs in the air.
Unfortunately this "act" works because psychopaths are like three year olds and are relentless. They don't mind picking fights , in fact they enjoy fighting and therefore PICK fights. It is a release of all that pent up rage inside of them. Thus, he will bludgeon you into acting like it didn't happen just by throwing a fit if you don't. They never quit insisting that you can act out their charade for them. If you refuse to act like it didn't happen (ust as they do) they punish you by abusing you in a worse way.
This is called "Negative Reinforcement" such as is when taught with dogs in behaviour training. If you contradict their lies and protest their guilt, they just repeat them to the Nth degree just to have the last word. They never quit because Psychopaths are from another planet, and like fighting: It's an opportunity for them to land blows on you.
You'd think they would tire of this repeated dishing out of "Negative Reinforcement" but they don't, to the contrary they thrive on it. The psychopath is a spoiled brat who will erupt in a temper tantrum the moment you deviate from "his script" and fail to act as though it didn't happen. That's the stick he herds you with.
The psychopath has a lifetime of practice at these temper tantrums. He deliberately makes his temper tantrum as obnoxious as possible, so that you can't stand the sight and sound of it. He makes faces, gives you the silent treatment, loud, irrational, raging, orgre, of ignores you completely. (Silent temper tantrums do exist!) It is done from keeping the victim from making her point in the matter, he emits a wall of Nimrodean nonsense to bounce everything you say right back in your face. To keep you from getting a word in edgeways. he emits a blast of noise to drown out your voice (either with his voice or he turns up the TV or music when it's your turn to speak) to shout you down, or he will ignore you and change the subject, silent and loud rages and temper tantrums are the norm.
Rewriting History - The Psychopaths Script
To revise history and to get the last word the psychopath will repeat his lie yesterday one billion times if necessary, like a three year old, to get the last word. All these devices and performances have but one end... "to block your every attempt to communicate with him in order to REASON with him"
The psychopath also reacts to situations in "Doublethink" or rewriting history which is acted out by the psychopath whenever he wants it applied to a situation of abuse, coercion or wants the victim to conform to "his way of thinking"
The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality (abuse the victim, blame etc) and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.
So what is the victim to do? carry on fighting a lost cause every single day for the rest of her life? or give in and allow the brat to have his way? We all eventually do give in and "act like it didn't happen" to have some peace. Why? because like every spoiled brat, he can carry on for hours with his temper tantrum performance. Whereas you are outraged and silenced in less than a minute. Because you can't bring yourself to stoop to such undignified behaviour. Because YOU have some self respect he doesn't.
There is on such thing as peaceful co-existence with a psychopath, soe people have apparently managed to occupy a household with a psychopath by separating within it, by drawing the battles lines within it. Lines the psychopath dare not cross. They force the victim to leave them alone by showing that they have teeth and claws too, and won't hesitate to use them on him.
There is no good reason to stay with a psychopath, none at all. Enabling the psychopath will lead to him only getting worse and the abuse will escalate. The psychopath is responsible for what he does, not you, you can't fix him, in fact as prey, you are the LAST person in the world who can have any good influence on him.
All you feel morally obligated to do is nothing that encourages him to get worse, the best advice I can give is ..."to leave and never go back" or "stay and continue being abused" it's your choice.
"I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin , hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip"
Gareth Edward(s) Rodger
Masks Of Sanity is an online blog offering advice, support and education for those who have fallen victim to the Psychopath/Narcissist. (NPD)
We explain why Narcissists behave the way they do, how they operate and how you can protect yourself from the Narcissist in society, in the home and online!
You can find my own personal experience with a psychopath in the links on the right. I have a very personal understanding of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and I am proof that there is hope after abuse!