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.