It is well known that psychopaths lack remorse for their antisocial actions. However, I fail to see why remorse is necessary to the human condition. Remorse is a feeling state. As with all feeling states, it passes. Therefore, many are assigning arbitrary weight to a transient emotion. Those that place value on remorse suggest that it is necessary for the reformation of a person doing bad deeds. However, there are plenty of other incentives for one not to revisit their antisocial ways. Nonetheless, people live and die by their capacity to feel remorse – see sentencing criteria for cases potentially involving the death penalty. A logical mind should be able to “reform” without emotions clouding their judgement. A logical mind has no use for such a self-loathing state.
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?
I’ve committed a great number of grievances in my lifetime. I’ve stolen, I’ve caused bodily harm, I’ve defrauded, and so on and so forth. Never have I really felt bad about any of these sins though. Well, at least not bad for those that I’ve hurt. I often worry about my reputation and my ability to move along undetected. Any pang in the pit of my stomach is internal in nature rather than external. It’s easy for me to say that I do not see the logic in crying over others’ hurt feelings or lighter pockets – which I don’t – but I think that it is just as important to note that such an automatic and debilitating response does not come to me anyway. There is no governor to hold me accountable through self-inflicted emotions. It just isn’t there.
I don’t understand the point of regret. I suppose this is tied indirectly to the psychopath’s inability to feel guilt or remorse. Ultimately, as a psychopath, the only person that matters is myself and I just can’t be bothered to get worked up over actions, due to shallow affect, that have occurred in the past. If I feel any semblance of regret, it must be the result of something that directly inconveniences me. These feelings are few and far between and can be mostly summed up as “it would have been nice had I not done that but oh well.”
Let’s use my excessive spending as an example. I’ve accumulated over 30,000 dollars in debt on items that I cannot remember. I look around in my living quarters and a see a few thousand dollars of toys, but ultimately I cannot figure out where most of the money has gone. The neurotypical may beat themselves up, wishing that they had never brought such hardship upon themselves. However, I merely shrug. Yes, it is an inconvenience to be saddled with such debt, but ultimately I am still alive and able to do nearly anything I want. The realization that I spend half of my paychecks combatting this debt does not register with me. I simply see it as something to be eventually squashed, like a fly in the room. I have no regret for such frivolous spending.
I do not feel guilt for those actions that have wronged others. This is not born from a necessarily malicious mindset; I simply am incapable of feeling guilt or remorse for any action that I have committed. I have conducted many experiments, seated in deep introspection, in order to determine if I have the capacity to feel such negative emotions. No matter how hard I reflect, the feelings never come. I, like most psychopaths, cannot feel guilt. There is simply a great disconnect between harming another and feeling “bad” about such.
That said, many psychopaths will rationalize their harmful actions. Many of us will proclaim that the victim deserved it or otherwise had it coming. Many of us view the vulnerable as being ripe for the taking and see no problem with merely taking “that which is ours.” Whether it is Machiavellianism at its finest or merely predator/prey dynamics, we can rationalize our behaviors by putting the blame on the victim. It may not seem fair, but it is reality.