Why Narcissist Never Says “ I Am Sorry”

Uploaded 1/8/2023, approx. 27 minute read

Shalom Shoshanim, why can't the narcissist say"I'm sorry"? Why does he never experience remorse, guilt, shame, regret? Why does he never try to make amends? Why is he always casting himself as the victim or the butt of a conspiracy?

What are these defenses in the narcissist?

There's about a million videos online which tackle exactly these questions. They are by self-styled experts, so they don't go too deep.

This one, this video that you're about to watch, if you're unfortunate enough, does go deep.

My name is Shoshanim, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a professor of psychology in SIAPS, Center for International Advanced Professional Studies, the Outreach Program of SIAS, the Consortium of Universities.

Now a few service announcements before we proceed.

I'm going to be in Budapest between the 20th and the 30th. If you want a private counseling session with me, write to me on my email,

Second thing, there's a three-day seminar in Gdansk with a symbolic entry fee. I think it's about 20 euros. It's at the end of March, the beginning of April. I'll post a link in the description to the relevant video which promotes the seminar.

The third point is, many people ask me, "Can you refer us to literature where your work is cited? Can you refer us to citations of your work in literature?"

My work has been cited in well over 5,000, that's unusual, over 5,000 academic articles. I'm going to post links in the description. You can click on the link and then proceed from there.

Okay, these were the service announcements.

The narcissist is never sorry, never apologizes, never makes amends. He is never there for you. He never provides closure. It's as if he revels in your distress.

I've had such a fake friend until recently. He is a covert, malignant, dysregulated narcissist, if I've ever seen one, sieving with envy and aggression. This so-called friend has abused me verbally, badmouthed me to absolutely everyone, stole my ideas and my work and my girlfriends, yet he always cast himself as the victim. He was always being manipulated into his wrongdoing. He was always justified. He never, in seven years together, I never heard him once say, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done this. My apologies. I'm serious." Not even once.

A month ago, I confronted him with some egregious, egregious, extremely immoral behavior on his part. And this is what he had to say in lieu of an apology.

He said, "I concede the point," and then agitated.

He immediately proceeded to threaten me with a secession of our collaboration. He said, "If you continue to raise this issue, I'm going to cut you off, and you need me because you have no one else to talk to."

Speaking of grandiose arrogance.


That's an example of a narcissist, a covert one in this case, which is even much worse than an overt narcissist. That's an example of a narcissist who simply can't say, "I'm sorry. I misbehaved. I made a mistake, innocent or otherwise. I apologize to you.

How can I make it up to you?"

He just couldn't say that.

Never, ever, not even once.

Why is that?

What are the sick dynamics behind this inability to experience remorse or regret or just to feel sorry for the other guy? What's behind all this?

I want to open with a quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

"We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others is experiment for us, for there is no crime to the intellect."

A narcissistic statement, if I ever read one.

Why do narcissists dare? Why do they dare to misbehave? Why are they not afraid of the consequences of their own actions, even when they do these kind of things, to seriously scary guys like me? Why do they feel that they are immune to the consequences of their own misdeeds?

Because like children, narcissists have magical thinking. They feel omnipotent, godlike. They feel that there is nothing they couldn't do or achieve had they only really wanted to and applied themselves to it.

Narcissists feel omniscient. They rarely admit to ignorance in any field. They believe that they are in possession of all relevant and useful knowledge. They are utterly convinced that introspection is more important and more efficient, not mentioned easier to accomplish.

As a method of edification, then the systematic study of outside sources of information in accordance with strict criteria.

In other words, narcissists regard themselves as the exclusive sources of authority. They think all knowledge resides inside them. They don't need to look outside. They just need to consult themselves, being godlike in their knowledge.

To some extent, narcissists believe, also believe that they are omnipresent because they are either a celebrity or famous somehow or known. They are deeply immersed in delusions of grandeur. They are firmly convinced that their acts have or will have a great influence on mankind, on a certain group of people, a cult-like setting, on others.

Having learned to manipulate their human environment, narcissists believe that they will always get away with it.

And the sad truth is that narcissists often get away with it.

That's a problem.

We all need to teach narcissists a lesson.

Narcissistic immunity is the narcissist's erroneous conviction that he is immune to the consequences of his actions.

And when I say his, it of course applies to women as well, female narcissists, his or her.

So, the narcissist believes that he will never be affected by the outcomes of his own decisions, opinions, beliefs, deeds, misdeeds, acts in action, over being a member of certain groups.

The narcissist believes that he is above reproach and above punishment. He wants to be sometimes feared or notorious, but still always invulnerable.

The narcissist convinces himself in the fantasy that he always inhabits, he convinces himself fantastically that he is protected and will miraculously be saved in the last moment or nothing will ever happen to him.

What are the sources of this fantastic appraisal of situations and chains of events? What is the reason for this divorce with reality, impaired reality testing?

The first and foremost source of course is the false self.

The false self is constructed as an infantile, a childlike response to abuse and trauma. The false self is possessed of everything that the child is not, everything the child wishes that he had in order to retaliate against abuse.

The false self has power, has wisdom, has magic and all of them unlimited and instantaneously available at the disposal of the helpless and hopeless child who is being abused.

The false self, this superman, is indifferent to abuse and punishment. It shields the vulnerable true self from the harsh realities experienced by the child.

And this artificial, maladaptive separation between a vulnerable but not punishable true self and a punishable but invulnerable false self. That's a very effective mechanism that survives well into adulthood. It isolates the child from the unjust, capricious, emotionally dangerous environment that he grew up in.

At the same time, the false self fosters a sense of nothing can happen to me because I'm not there. I cannot be punished because it's not me. I'm immune because it's another self state.

This is one source.

The second source is the sense of entitlement possessed by every narcissist, including the friend of all the fake friend aforementioned.

In his grandiose delusions, the narcissist is sui generis, he's unique. He's a gift to humanity, a precious, fragile object.

Moreover, the narcissist is convinced both that this uniqueness is immediately discernible, everyone and anyone can see it, and that it gives him special rights and entitlements.

The narcissist feels that he's sheltered by some cosmological law pertaining to some kind of extinct or endangered species.

The narcissist is convinced that his future contribution to humanity should and does exempt him from the mundane, from daily chores, from boring jobs, from recurrent tasks, from personal exertion, from orderly investment of resources and efforts, even from aging or death, indefinitely.

His uniqueness and his mission in life, ordained by some supreme power or by the universe itself, they exempt him from acting morally.

The narcissist has no moral compass whatsoever. He has no boundaries. He's unbound rate.

The narcissist is entitled in his mind to special treatment, high living standards, constant and immediate catering to his ever shifting needs, the right to poach other people's mates, the avoidance of the mundane and the routine, the right to bed-mouth people with impunity and absolution of the narcissist's sins, fast track privileges, I don't know, to higher education or in his encounters with bureaucracy, including medical bureaucracy.

"Manishment," says the narcissist, "is for ordinary people, not for me." Ordinary people are not a great loss to humanity. I am. I am above any law, including social laws, including the appropriate ways to behave, including boundaries, including codes and mores. I'm above all this. I'm above all this because I am so special. I'm once in a generation or once in history, phenomenon.

The third source for the narcissist misplaced sense of immunity because it's unrealistic, of course, his sense of immunity is counterfactual. It's not real. Things do catch up with him. He does pay the ultimate price. He makes enemies and some of them are very, very persistent and intent on punishing him severely.

So the third source that has to do with the narcissist's immunity is his ability to manipulate his human environment.

Narcissists develop their manipulative skills to the level of an artful because that is the only way they could have survived.

They grew up in a poisoned and dangerous childhood. They had to survive by manipulating the adults around them. They used this gift long after its expiry dates.

Narcissists are possessed of inordinate abilities to charm, to seduce, to convince, to persuade their gifted orators.

In many cases, narcissists are intellectually endowed. They put all this to the limited use of obtaining narcissistic supply with startling results.

Narcissists become some narcissists, prosocial and communal narcissists, become pillars of society, members of some upper class or elite. They mostly do get exempted many times by virtue of their standing in society, their charisma or their ability to find willing scapegoats. Even victims of narcissists often justify the narcissists. They call the narcissists a kind friend minutes after he had engaged in predatory sex with them. Minutes after the narcissist had acted as a predator, his own, his very victims would tend to regard him as a benefactor, as having been of great help. Having got away with it so many times, narcissists develop a theory of personal immunity and it rests on some kind of societal and even cosmic order of things.

Some people, says the narcissist to himself, are so unique that they are not subject to human or social laws. Some people are just above punishment. They have the special ones, they have the endowed and gifted ones.

And this is the narcissistic hierarchy.

And there is a fourth and possibly simpler explanation.

The narcissist just does not know what he's doing.

He's divorced from his true self.

He is unable to empathize, he's unable to understand what it is like to be someone else.

He cannot put himself in the place of his victims or the people he is wronging.

He is wronged.

He cannot grasp that what he's doing hurts people, causes them excruciating pain, reduces them to disintegration.

He just can't understand that.

He very often mocks this kind of weakness in his victims.

He exhorts them to move on and overcome the very consequences of his own immoral, unboundary, egregious misconduct.

The narcissist is unwilling to act empathetically. He's unwilling to constrain his actions in accordance with the feelings and needs of others because he, not only because he doesn't care and he doesn't care, but also because he's in a constant dreamlike state.

He's very often dissociative.

The narcissist experiences his life like some kind of theatre play or movie autonomously unfolding, guided by a sublime, even divine director.

The narcissist is sometimes only an observer, a spectator. He's mildly interested in what he's doing, he's greatly entertained at times, but he doesn't own his actions.

He doesn't really feel responsible for his actions or the impact his actions have on others. He's likely to say a sentence like, "I cannot be held responsible for the feelings and emotions of other people."

The narcissist does not feel emotionally that he has to be punished. He regards punishment as gross injustice.

He casts himself constantly as a victim being wronged.

He didn't do anything deserving of such mistreatment.

He says to himself, "He was just being himself."

To be a narcissist is to be convinced of a great, inevitable personal destiny.

The narcissist is preoccupied with ideal love, the construction of brilliant revolutionary theories, the compositional offering of painting, which is the greatest work of art.

A narcissist who is in the self-help industry convinces himself that he's a saviour, a healer, a fixer.

Never mind how many people he victimizes alone, the way, never mind how much predatory sex he has with his so-called charges or people he is meant to help.

The narcissist convinces himself that everything he's doing is healing even when it's actually extremely predatory.

The narcissist never sets realistic goals to himself.

He is forever floating amidst fantasies of uniqueness, record-breaking, breathtaking achievements, positive or negative.

The narcissist is so convinced that he stands apart from humanity, that he refuses to acknowledge, refuses to accept that he can be wrong and that he can and does hurt people and is subject like every human being to setbacks, failures and punishments.

The narcissist regards everything as temporary and casts everything as someone else's errors.

The narcissist is likely to say, "He made me do it. He manipulated me into doing it. He brainwashed me. He lied to me and consequently I acted this way."

He's likely to have alloplastic defenses.

He always blames other people for the inevitable consequences of his inaction or wrong action.

Everything is someone else's fault.

This is the mythology of the narcissist.

His rise to power or his brilliance or his wealth or his ideal love or his help for others, his altruism.

They all depend on this mythology where the narcissist is pure as the driven snow.

This is of course splitting. It's a defense mechanism.

The narcissist is all good. Everyone else is all bad.

To accept punishment is to divert scarce energy and resources from the all-important task of fulfilling the narcissist's mission in life.

It's also an admission.

If you accept punishment, you admit to having acted wrongly.

And this is something the narcissist will never countenance.

The narcissist is pathologically envious of people.

He projects his aggression onto people.

He's always vigilant, always ready to fend off an imminent attack.

When inevitable punishment does come, and I have breaking news for you, overt narcissist and covert narcissist, wherever you may be, punishment is on its way.

Whenever punishment does come, the narcissist is shocked and irritated by his karma, by this nuisance.

Being punished also proves to him and validates what he has suspected all along that he is being persecuted unjustly.

The narcissist constructs a theory of how evil malevolent people are out to get him, how strong forces are poised and arrayed against him, how people are envious of his accomplishments, angry at him, out to get him.

The narcissist constitutes a threat in his mind to the accepted order.

When the narcissist is required to account for his misdeeds, extreme in many cases, he is always disdainful, agitated, bitter, irritated, annoyed.

Who are you to demand an accounting of my actions?

I am above you and above the law and above society and above any soul searching.

Narcissist feels like Galiver, a giant chained to the ground by teeming dwarves, by his soul soars to the future in which people would recognize his greatness and applaud it and him.

Deep behind this facade, because the false self is a kind of facade, deep behind this facade which the narcissist fully identifies with, actually the narcissist is always dysphoric.

He always feels bad.

The narcissist experiences all manner of depressive episodes and lesser dysphoric moods on a constant basis.

The narcissist goes through a full panoply of mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

Finally, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual had recognized this in the alternative model of narcissistic personality disorder.

NPD is closely linked to mood disorders.

The narcissist even experiences panic from time to time.

It is a highly unpleasant experience to be a narcissist, but the narcissist has a diminished capacity to empathize with others, so he rarely feels sorry for what he does to others.

He almost never puts himself in the shoes of his victims, as I said.

He doesn't regard other people as victims at all.

It is very common for the narcissist to feel victimized, deprived, discriminated against, hated, I don't know.

The narcissist projects his own labile moods, dysregulated emotions, distorted cognitions and immoral actions onto others.

They are to blame. This is blame shifting, victim blaming.

The narcissist feels distressed because he is intelligent enough to realize that something is wrong with him in a major way, especially when he gets older, as he gets older.

The narcissist keeps comparing himself to others and the outcome is never favorable, frankly.

The narcissist's grandiosity is one of the defense mechanisms, a cognitive distortion that he uses to cover up for this disagreeable realization.

But the efficacy of grandiose defenses, grandiose cognitive distortions, the efficacy is partial, it's intermittent, the rest of the timewhen grandiosity is not working, when it's being challenged and undermined and under attack, the narcissist is immersed in self-loathing and self-pity, is under duress and distress most of his waking life.

In a vague way, the narcissist is also sorry for those upon whom he inflicts the consequences of his personality disorder, but not enough to induce in him remorse or regret.

Borderlines do experience shame and guilt, however.

The narcissist knows that people around him are not happy.

He understands that it has something to do with him.

But he uses even this to aggrandize himself.

He says to himself, "Poor, inferior people around me." Poor people, inferior people, they can never fully grasp my superiority. They can never utterly understand me. They are so below me on the evolutionary ladder that I'm the next iteration of humanity and they're left behind.

The narcissist is proud of his misconduct because it proves to him how superior and immunity is to what other people have to go through.

His misbehavior creates a kind of right inalienable, the narcissist believes that he has an inalienable right to misbehave and that this creates a corresponding commensurate obligation in other people to simply tolerate it.

They should take him, accept him as he is, my way or the highway in your face, definewarmer and reckless, immoral, exceedingly hurtful to other people, doing amazinglysick, wrong things.

So the narcissist inhabits this Neverland, this twilight zone of dissonance between his personal mythology, the stories, the narrative that he is constructed about himself and reality.

And this is known as the grandiosity gap.

Grandiosity gap creates a permanent state of depression akin to this theme.

The narcissist puts himself at the center of the world. He's the axis around which everyone and everything revolves. He's the pivot.

And yet reality keeps challenging this.

His misbehavior is in many ways an attempt to regain the limelight, to put himself at the center of action, sometimes even to inflict on himself punishment, self-punitive act, in order to self-harm and experience alive again.

When confronted with major crisis, traumatic divorce, financial entanglement, a fight with a former friend, the demotion, the narcissist does experience real excruciatinglife-threatening pain.

This is the narcissist called Turkey.

His withdrawal symptoms, his mortification.

I encourage you to watch my videos on mortification.

Narcissistic supply is like any other thing, like any other drug, habit-forming psychologically.

The withdrawal of narcissistic supply has broad implications, psychodynamic implications, all of them very, very painful.

So this is the background as to why the narcissist misbehaves.

The narcissist's misdeeds, his misconduct, they are actually defensive. They are intended to prove to the narcissist that he is unique, he has special rights, he is entitled, he is sui generis, he is above the law, he is not subject to social constraints and expectations. He can do anything he wants to anyone and will never ever get punished. He will get away with it.

It's fantasy of course. It's a fantasy defense.

The narcissist knows right from wrong, is fully aware of all social norms, laws and mores, acutely aware.

But lacking empathy, he simply doesn't care enough about other people to act properly or to refrain from harmful action.

So should we hold the narcissist accountable for his actions?

Let me elaborate a bit on this.

Narcissists of all shades can usually control their behavior and actions.

When a narcissist goes to prison, he suspends his narcissism fully for the duration.

Trust me.

So narcissist can change.

They can become a lot more human, a lot more empathic, a lot more attuned to their environment, a lot more constrained, a lot more boundaried.

Given the right inducements and incentives for a job of fear, the narcissist becomes a different person.

But in normal daily life, they simply don't care to make the effort. They regard it as a waste of their precious time, a humiliating chore.

The narcissist feels both superior and entitled regardless of his real gifts or accomplishments. Other people are always inferior. They are his slaves, they are there to cater to his needs and make his existence seamless, flowing, smooth, entertaining and fun. He will take unquestioningly from others. He will steal anything from property to ideas to mates, mate poaching. He will not hesitate because it's his by right.

Narcissist holds himself to be significant, entitled to the conditions needed to realize his talents and successfully complete his missions.

What the narcissist cannot control, however, is his void, his emotional black hole, the empty schizooid core, the fact that he doesn't know what it is like to be human because he lacks empathy.

As a result, narcissists are awkward, they're tactless, they're painful, they're abrasive, they're insensitive. Even when they fake charm, even when they fake helpfulness, altruism, even when they fake being nice and pleasant, even when they fake being friendly, it takes a toll on them.

Sometimes extreme effort, it depletes them.

My answer is that narcissist should be held accountable for most of his actions, if not all of them.

Even taking into account his sometimes uncontrollable rage and the backdrop of his grandiose fantasies, narcissists are mentally ill, but not sufficiently mentally ill, in my view at least, to benefit from the insanity defense.

Even when you take, for example, rage, admittedly at times the narcissist finds it hard to control his rage or his self-destructive impulses.

But at all times, even during the worst explosive episode, during the worst self-defeating, self-destructive, self-painful behaviors, the narcissist can tell right from wrong and he simply doesn't care about the other person sufficiently to refrain from action that is injurious.

The narcissist similarly cannot control his grandiose fantasies, his cognitive distortions. He firmly believes that they constitute an accurate representation of reality, but at all times he does know that lying is wrong and should not be done. He does know that he should not steal other people's property or ideas or mates. He does know all these things.

He simply doesn't care enough about society or about others to refrain from doing this.

Masnissist should be held accountable for most of her actions because they can tell right from wrong and they can refrain from acting wrongly.

Narcissists simply don't care enough about others to putto good usethese twin abilities.

Others are not sufficiently important to dent the narcissist's indifference or to alter his shockingly abusive misconduct.


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