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.