Psychopaths tend not to regret what they do except for those actions that hinder their abilities to be successful. Rather than dwelling on what could have been, we move on to different partners, different jobs, different geographic locations, and so on. Very few actions are considered ‘fatal’ and worthy of regret by the psychopath. In my previous post, I outlined some of the regrets I feel regarding being transgender. All of those regrets were to be viewed through the lens of potential inability to move forward in a shark-like fashion due to the consequences of being transgendered. None of the regrets were due to the physical changes I have incurred as a result of being transgendered.
We psychopaths live in the moment. The ability to gauge what our actions will do for our future selves is limited. Other times, we may realize what it will do but simply not care. With such a momentary focus, an inability for regret is essential. What advantage is there to dwell on the past when we have a present to take advantage of? With a lack of empathy for others, the focus of any past actions must be centered on ourselves. However, just because some activity in the past has hindered our present self’s ability to succeed, I don’t believe that makes it automatically register as worthy of regret. The threshold differs person to person. For instance, I am terrible with money. I have blown the equivalent of salaries for multiple years on items and activities that quickly outlived their usefulness. However, I do not feel regret over that. I will find some way to move when I need to and to pay for items that I truly need. Whether this is through irresponsibility in the use of credit or charming my way to new employment, I will find a way. This is different than the hindrance caused by being transgender as those obstacles are external in nature, however they were caused by an internal action. I think that is the key here: regret can only arise if it handicaps us due to the views of others but is the result of something we did.
Regret is the feeling of disappointment for an action; remorse is a much deeper feeling of regret that involves feelings of sorrow for something one has done. Psychopaths may feel regret for some actions, but never remorse. Why? Simple. Remorse implies, usually, that we have wronged someone and we feel a deep psychological and / or physiological response for the one wronged. Clearly this won’t happen due to our lack of empathy. Our regret usually only exists insofar as we’ve inconvenienced ourselves. And, just because we feel regret does not mean that we would necessarily change our actions if we could go back in time. I regret transitioning for the reasons I’ve outlined previously. I would not change those actions because the dysphoria was very real. I do not feel remorse for the driving past the accident victim that desperately needed help. Helping him was not worth my time. So we can commit actions, or inactions, that have very real consequences for others and feel nothing.
Others look at us with bewilderment when we explain that we regret very little. Couldn’t time have been spent more productively if we weren’t in jail at one point, for instance? Wouldn’t we be better off if we had saved our money instead of blowing it on the newest and most shiny toy? Undoubtedly, yes. However, wasting time over such concerns and reflections is not productive either. We live in the moment and do not value the past. To waste such energy wishing we could change actions that have already been done is, simply, irrational. Combined with our risk-seeking tendencies and our ability to live in the moment, there is simply no reward without risk. Regret, often, is merely the avoidance of the realization that risk is an everyday part of life. We psychopaths just capitalize on this more often than those that are not.
We regret what hindered us arbitrarily. We do not regret most everything else. We do not show remorse and we do not waste valuable time on focusing on events that have been etched in the past. We are constantly moving forward, looking to better ourselves, and we consider any activities that retard such as anathema. Why focus on mistakes in the past when today is a new day with a new crop ready for reaping?