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.
As I was digesting (and still do, I should add) my diagnosis with my psychotherapist, she related a story regarding how neurotypicals feel guilt and remorse. She told me of a time that she committed theft as a small child. Decades later the act still haunts her for reasons that I cannot understand. She spoke in terms of harming others and that she felt a great sense of guilt for harming someone, even if she was young and still growing as a person. None of this made sense to me. Why waste such precious psychic energy on something that cannot be undone? Would not energy be better spent on determining whether it “makes sense” to harm again in the future? Why would such a crippling feeling be voluntarily accepted and felt by an individual. Many months later, I still do not understand neurotypicals and their guilt.
Even if psychopaths are rationalizing their harmful actions, it is still usually not a personal matter. We simply are opportunists and scavengers feeding off the vulnerable around us. It is not that the target because of their identity and presence alone provoked us to where we felt compelled to harm them – although this on occasion can happen. Targets are usually at the wrong place (for them) at the right time (for us). Believe me, you’ll know when matters are personal. However, the fact that we feel neither guilt nor remorse should not – usually – be taken personally. It’s just business.
It is interesting however, because many neurotypicals can engage in the same rationalization toward hurting others. Yes, these neurotypicals can feel guilt and remorse for hurting some, but they can also rationalize in such a way to where they avoid their own guilt. Whether they justify their bigotry toward those incompatible with their worldview or engage in underhanded behavior to solve personal quarrels, the neurotypical can rise to the level of the psychopath. Think of crimes of passion or hatred. Those neurotypicals avoided guilt by justifying their actions in the name of love or their god. Yet, society often sweeps their sins under the rug – relatively.
The lack of remorse and guilt has harrowing consequences for the psychopath caught up in the legal system, however. Neurotypicals are ruthless in their condemnation of those that lack the ability to feel the same emotions that they do. In light of the previous paragraph this is especially interesting. How many sentences have been bolstered and inflated simply because the convicted cannot feel remorse or guilt? How many more will go to the gallows simply because they lack the supposed humanity that neurotypicals hold?
This inability to feel guilt and remorse is one of the traits that neurotypicals find most alien, but it need not be. We may not be able to feel these useless emotions, but we certainly need not be alone on this front. We are merely equal-opportunity with our lack of guilt. Whereas the neurotypical must justify their actions to avoid guilt, we simply never had it to begin with. The wolf loses no sleep when the lamb bleeds and does not think twice when feasting on the dead prey’s flesh.