Monday, November 8, 2010

On the Topic of Guilt.

I thought it might be a good idea to take up some of the issues often associated with psychopathy, but which - in my opinion - are also often misunderstood.

I will start with a trait I think is not necessarily the trait of a psychopath, but which I am also not sure about how to categorize:

The lack of Remorse or Guilt.


We often hear that lack of guilt, or lack of feeling guilty, is a central trait of a psychopath. But does 'lack of guilt' mean they don't think they're guilty, or does it mean they they're guilty but they just don't care? - To me Guilt is an awareness, not a feeling. If I steal my neighbor's lunch, I know I am guilty. It's not something I feel, it's something I know, something I am aware of.

Is guilt supposed to make you feel a certain way? How does 'Guilt' feel? Quite honestly, 'Guilt' doesn't make me feel anything one way or another, unless I have a reason for wanting to redeem an action I have undertaken. It may sound cold, but I can very well find a reason to redeem an action that has consequences for somebody else, though it does usually imply myself in some way. But isn't this the case for us all? I think it is, though I'm aware that many disagree.

Sometimes in cases where I want to undo or change something I have brought about, it gives me a nagging, uneasy, feeling. But even so this is more linked to what I do not want to happen than to what I have actually done.

I can under special circumstances be pushed into doing something I don't want to do, but it doesn't make me "feel guilty", it makes me angry. Angry at those or that which made me do it, and angry at myself for not having been stronger so that I could abstain despite the circumstances (like torture, f.ex.).

But I haven't been in many such a situations as far as I recall. Why not? I think it's because I am not easily pushed, and I generally don't do things to others that I don't want them to have the consequences for. I ususally make very sure to not harm or otherwise affect others in a negative way, unless I really don't care for those people and I have a very good reason to be wanting to go through with the activity anyway, or unless the reasons to do such things simply outweigh the negatives.

I don't feel bad about being guilty of something, because I make sure I can live with the consequences before I do whatever I do.

When somebody feels guilty and tell me about f.ex. how they can't sleep because of something they did, my thought is: "Why did you do it if it makes you feel so bad!?". When I sometimes ask people this question I usually get a vague answer about something they felt at the time, or they simply don't know what to say.

That's a topic for another article: "The psychopath doesn't consider the consequences of their actions".

2 comments:

Andreas said...

Hahaha, I loved this one! You described guilt in the exact fashion that I see it.
"Why did you do it, if it makes you feel so bad!?!"

I find it so ironic that they say we don't consider the consequences of our actions, yet they do so much that they regret. Passionate Emotions, that is exactly what makes them do what they do. That is the biggest difference between us and them. We are very rational, and not easily motivated by our emotions but instead, we are motivated by our thoughts and intentions.

I can do something terrible to someone but if I don't want that result, then I will not perform that action. I try and Never do any unintentional harm, to anyone, even if I don't care about them. Sometimes people deserve that harm, and I still don't harm them. I will only harm them, if the consequences are what I want, be they for their own good, or toward their detriment.

They, on the other hand will feel the urge to do something, and use rationale to guide whether or not they will perform that action. Emotions are a powerful driving force. If emotions win out, they will have to live with the consequences of their actions, regardless of whatever they are. I still don't fully understand how the two are so separate... (I know that they are rewarded for following their feelings, so maybe that is it! We are rewarded by results/satisfaction alone; they are potentially rewarded by being true to their feelings, and rewarded by results/satisfaction, thus their is potentially conflicting interests.) {I think I'm on to something! Thanks for that one! This is why our kind needs more dialogue!!!}
I find it hard to imagine acting based only on my feelings, and somehow being blind to the consequences, they, likewise, cannot easily imagine what we are like.

---
you mentioned caring and not caring about people. I am on my way to becoming a physician; until recently, I didn't know there was a difference between wanting to help someone because you care about them, and simply wanting to help someone. The result is what I was after; I never paid close enough attention to others to realize that they, generally, needed to care about others, in order to want to help others.
Our minds work so very differently, good or bad, we are simply different.

Anonymous said...

I think that maybe psychos like to imagine what it might be like to do the evil, and then they say something to themselves like:

"well...idk, how do I think I will feel about it if I do this "evil", malicious, vengeful, destructive thing right now..

6 months down the road?"