Psychopaths and Appreciation

I am not certain that the psychopath can feel appreciation.  I’m certain this is related to our shallow affect, but it is nonetheless another example of how the psychopath is insulated from the emotional bonds that neurotypicals make with each other.  Whether it is having a feeling state for gifts or services received, such emotions of gratitude or appreciation are rarely, if ever, felt.

I went to a family Christmas dinner earlier today.  As with last year, I ended up sleeping through dinner only to wake up to presents under the tree for myself.  Therein was a non-trivial amount of money and other goods and it was clear that there was some sacrifice by those who gave me the presents.  I quickly put the money in my wallet and left without acknowledging the gifts.  Yes, that reaction was fairly callous – entirely for other reasons related to a general disdain for family -, but I didn’t feel appreciation anyway.  As another example, my therapist will go out of her way in order to make sure that I’m okay during times of severe bipolar depression, and I intellectually realize that she is doing such but emotionally I am not grateful for such.  I can fake appreciation, like many other emotions, but ultimately there is no emotional bond between me and the one who did good things for me.

I suppose this could also be related to the psychopath’s narcissism and self-grandiosity.  When everything revolves around the psychopath in her mind, what is left for truly acknowledging another’s actions?  As self-centered as we are, we tend to expect that others will submit to our will.  We are gods in our eyes, and gods do not expect their servants to require compensation for their energy.  And, I suppose in the grand scheme of things, appreciation is a form of emotional compensation and an expected part of the social contract.  Neurotypicals expect others to show their gratitude.  The psychopath must merely feign this in order to stay masked.

Regardless of the reasons, I have yet to communicate with another psychopath that has shown true appreciation.  We often turn to other means of showing thanks, such as reciprocating gift-giving or compensating with money and I suppose as long as our closest acquaintances know that such is our substitution for a true emotional bond, that all is well.  Ultimately this is all that can be asked for with the psychopath:  a realization that there are surrogates for the emotional bonds that neurotypicals come to expect on a daily basis from those they interact with.


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  1. FNP says

    Having spent my day sitting through family dinner and family listen-to-the-same-carols-as-every-year time, I half-heartedly (or would it be no-heartedly?) muttered some thanks for the money I got. The non-money gifts I had already outright told my family members to get me so I didn’t need to act surprised at getting them.

  2. M says

    Kelly, do you go to family dinners just because of the gifts? If so, is it worth wasting your entire day with people for whom you seem to feel only disdain (am I wrong here?)?

    • J. Kelly says

      There are multiple dynamics here. My family would assess some form of “penalty” if I did not show up. By penalty, I mean anything that could potentially inconvenience me even if it is merely constant nagging that I am not a loving daughter.

      Ultimately, it’s “easier” simply to suck it up and go to these family gatherings. The gifts are nice, though not appreciated, but ultimately it just makes things more tolerable if I don’t rock the cradle.

      Another dynamic is that only a handful within my family know of my ASPD diagnosis and assessment of psychopathy, so I’d rather not provoke them into wondering why I’m so inattentive to their wants and needs.

  3. M says

    Wouldn’t it be better if you spend christmas with someone whom you enjoy chatting or partying or something (and from whom you would probably get presents to)?

    • M says

      I replied before I saw your answer… I get it. But if your family can be such an inconvenience, why even waste your time contacting them (in any occasion)?

      • J. Kelly says

        Frankly, I enjoy leeching them of their money and their goods. I just put the annoyance in the back of my mind and continue to take until it proves too much for either party.

  4. M says

    Ok. Besides that, is this something related to some need for revenge or is it because you think they should somehow “pay you back” for something they did? (I didn’t read most of your blog posts, so I don’t know the all story)

    • J. Kelly says

      Yeah, we work through CBT. It helps me with restraint when it comes to acting antisocial and allows me to “fake” those emotions and responses that the neurotypicals in my life demand. I’m definitely a better person as a result of CBT.

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