Do Narcissists Ever Feel Guilty?

The hands of the guilty narcissist are rarely raised. 

“I feel terrible, and I’m really sorry.”

We all want to hear those words muttered from them, but all we’re left with is imagining what that feels like.

If you’re looking for a narcissist to be responsible for their actions, you’re going to have more luck finding a needle in a haystack.

Knowing the ‘why’ behind their lack of guilt lets you hold the key to how they operate.

Worse still, narcissists can sometimes feign guilt – and I’ve got all the reasons why for you.

You can have that narcissist fully figured out!

The Narcissist vs. The Conscience

If a narcissist had a conscience, none of us would have a problem. They would apologize where necessary, respect us and our boundaries, and admit when they were wrong.

Conscience leads to the awareness of guilt. 

If you did something wrong, you’d admit fault. If you failed or neglected somewhere along the line and reflected honestly, you would feel those guilty emotions surfacing. 

That’d be normal.

Newsflash:

Narcissists aren’t normal.

While this breaking news isn’t surprising, it doesn’t lead me down a good path to inform you that the narcissist doesn’t possess a conscience. 

The only thing in fact that does lie within the narcissist is the ability to pretend – but only when it serves them best.

Emotions? What Emotions?

Emotions are few and far between when it comes to the narcissist. There’s a reason why they never seem authentic when they’re happy, and why they present so intensely during the negative moments. 

Narcissists won’t show real guilt, because they don’t know how to feel it. It is however, something they can play on if they need to.

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Narcissists are great at showing:

  • Passion
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Disappointment
  • Jealousy
  • Hate
  • Disgust
  • Indifference

They’re not so good with:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Interest
  • Contentment
  • Hope
  • Gratitude
  • Serenity
  • Awe
  • Pride
  • Inspiration

All the emotions that come packaged with a narcissist are going to be shown. All the emotions they genuinely cannot feel will be acted out. 

Narcissists do make the best drama experts!

Guilt is an emotion that works 

Finger Pointing? Check!

FInger pointing – where would a narcissist be without it? 

Nowhere!

Narcissists are known to project blame whenever possible. It’s to highlight the fact (or fiction) that you did something, and they didn’t. 

Give them a reason to project, and they will. Unless you have a very good excuse, people will believe them because of their persuasive nature. 

Sometimes They Pretend… Here’s Why

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Narcissists are fantastic at pretending. 

If they want to look or feel guilty, they will say. 

I’ll give you a classic example, with made-up characters.

John was invited to his daughters for the holidays. He met up with his other children there, and their children. It had been a while since John had seen his daughter due to little contact, and he was keen to make his presence known.

The life and soul of the party, John knocked over a picture frame that fell to the floor and smashed. Due to the ill relationship with his daughter, she didn’t respond favorably, assuming he did it on purpose. 

John saw all eyes locked on him, awaiting his response to his daughter’s reaction. He let his head hang, and shook it softly.

“I am so sorry. I did this, you’re right. It was an accident. I have been so unwell, and it’s left me feeling weak and shaky. It was the flu and I’m still getting my strength back. I will get you a new one.”

Point one: John did knock the photo frame over on purpose. He felt his daughter looked too happy in it. 

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Point two: He lied. He hasn’t had the flu, but he will gain sympathy from it.

Point three: He has no intention of replacing the photo frame. His daughter knows that deep down. 

What Pseudo-Guilt Gains Them 

In short, you’re looking at:

  • Sympathy
  • Understanding from others
  • Attention
  • Affection
  • Victim status – it’s never about anybody else only them

Whatever they can get from others and use to feel better about themselves, they’re going to get it. 

Narcissists Will Use Guilt:

To Manipulate You

When a narcissist openly admits to feeling guilty, they will somehow draw you into that. It’ll be your feelings they want to manipulate, and will make it look as though they aren’t perfect, and to give them a break. Sometimes they make mistakes:

Haven’t you ever done something wrong in your life?

Ah yes, that old chestnut. 

Next step: you are apologizing for pointing out something they need to feel guilty for. 

To Make You Feel Guilty

Narcissists won’t hesitate in continuing to pursue their pseudo-guilt by making you feel guilty. 

I got the blame for that and you laughed at me! You looked so insensitive!

This is the equivalent of saying, “Hey you know what, if my ship is sinking, then you’re coming down with me.”

People with good hearts get involved with narcissists, and it’s always the people with the biggest hearts that are the first to feel all the feelings possible. Where possible, they want to live in a happy world surrounded by happy people. If there’s a risk of making anybody feel bad, they themselves will feel awful for it.

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That includes the narcissist too, sadly. 

For Sympathy

Remember John above? This type of story can be added into almost any situation, as long as it brings attention and sympathy back around to the narcissist, they will get away with anything. 

They could run over a dog and find a way for people to feel more sad for them than the dog under the car. 

I had such a bad day, I almost lost my job. I ‘ve got bills to pay. I wasn’t thinking. It just came out in front of me. 

Nobody needs to know that once home, the narcissist will shrug and say, “So what? It was just a dog.”

To Triangulate

When a narcissist wants to pull two people who have become frightfully close in their books apart, they will do anything. 

Triangulation can look like:

  • That person really makes me feel bad about myself. I felt guilty for not wanting to see them, but I just feel so drained when I am around them. They don’t seem to listen when I talk, and last week they told me I am too needy for them.
  • I felt so unseen at the party with them last week. They actually scoffed when I said what I do for a living, like it wasn’t good enough for them.

What the narcissist successfully does with both of these statements or similar, is both play on pseudo-guilt, and pull that person away from who they wanted to pull them away from. 

Narcissists are masters in disguise but make no mistake – they are masters of evil. 

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