A Neurotypical Perspective on Remorse

Given that yesterday’s post on remorse blew up my tumblr following, I thought that I’d share the results of a question I asked my therapist.  This question was born from the innumerable asks I received regarding other ASPD individuals and whether they were feeling remorse or something else entirely.  I was asked if worrying about one’s reputation was remorse if the individual wanted to go back in time and fix it.  I was asked if remorse was solely with respect to harming another.  I was given comments by readers that ended up more confused than before they read my post.  So I asked my therapist point blank: what is remorse?

She responded directly.  She referred to how remorse must be the result of an external sense of compassion.  “I have wronged someone and I wish I could make it right for them, because I have compassion for them and their plight which came by my hands.”  Simply feeling that something should be corrected was not remorse in her view.  It is too easy to replace a stolen twenty dollar bill, for example, without feeling negative emotion toward the initial misdeed.  Also, wanting to go back and time and save one’s own reputation is not remorse as it belittles and renders impotent any compassion for another.  Compassion, empathy, and self-inflicted negative emotion make up the core of the remorseful – not self-centered desires or in her words, “the desires of the ego”.

Thus, remorse must be something visceral and rooted in empathy.  It is with compassion toward another that an individual is able to achieve remorse.  It cannot be self-serving and it cannot be a charge taken without placing oneself in the wronged’s shoes.  Psychopaths will never be able to feel remorse in all likelihood as a result.  Then again, I’m not sure that I would want to.

(No) Remorse


        • says

          I think you didn’t understand what I meant (the word theoretically is key here): People who are considered healthy feel remorse – psychopaths and other mentally ill people don’t. It will be one step closer to being healthy. But I have to agree with you that feeling remorse is kind of pointless and a waste of time.

  1. says

    But is good to be capable to suffer? I think psychopaths are capable to suffer, although less than NT’s. And no, for me, it’s not good to be capable of feeling remorse (a type of suffering psychopaths are not capable of feeling)

    And who define good? It’s subjective – what one sees as “good” can be seen as “bad” by others.

    In secret people are envious on this lack of pain? Maybe some are.

    As a side note: a lack of remorse or empathy is not clinically significant by itself. Psychopathy is a syndrome, it’s much more than that.

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