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Do Narcissists Feel Remorse? Bernie Madoff says, “F— My Victims”


New York Magazine is running an article on Bernie Madoff’s life in prison. The piece reports that Madoff unrepentantly declared to fellow inmates, “F— my victims. I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.” In an excerpt from the NYM piece, one inmate recalls a conversation in which he and Madoff discussed how he took advantage of old ladies:

Pollard thought that taking advantage of old ladies was “kind of fucked up.”

“Well, that’s what I did,” Madoff said matter-of-factly.

“You are going to pay with God,” Pollard warned.

Madoff was unmoved. He was past apologizing. In prison, he crafted his own version of events. From MCC, Madoff explained the trap he was in. “People just kept throwing money at me,” Madoff related to a prison consultant who advised him on how to endure prison life. “Some guy wanted to invest, and if I said no, the guy said, ‘What, I’m not good enough?’ ” One day, Shannon Hay, a drug dealer who lived in the same unit in Butner as Madoff, asked about his crimes. “He told me his side. He took money off of people who were rich and greedy and wanted more,” says Hay, who was released in December. People, in other words, who deserved it.”

My jaw dropped when I read these statements because they so perfectly illustrate what I have long believed: Narcissists/sociopaths do not feel remorse for their hurtful and/or criminal actions and believe that their targets deserve to be screwed. According to Madoff, his clients deserved to be fleeced by him and should be grateful that he “carried them” for 20 years (carried them into bankruptcy and out of retirement, that is). Madoff’s statements also illustrate how narcissists and other scam artist/predators rewrite history in order to be able to live with themselves.

Are You Married to Madoff?

If you are married to a woman with similar traits, she may never explicitly articulate, “Fuck my victim(s)” (a.k.a, you and your children), but this is the fundamental attitude from which she operates. Not only does she not feel bad for her bad behaviors, but she also believes you should be grateful that she makes the time to abuse you.

Narcissists, borderlines and other predatory sociopaths—even if the ones who portray themselves as victimized, fragile “waifs”—view people, including you, as need gratification objects. You aren’t seen as an individual human being with needs, feelings and rights. You are an object to be used at her discretion just like a pair of shoes or a car or a nail file or a punching bag. Inanimate objects don’t complain, which is why your complaints, requests for kindness and affection or your basic expressions of emotions are met with alternating bewilderment and impatience. A shoe doesn’t complain when she wears it too roughly, so it’s unthinkable that you would complain if she treats you too roughly. In fact, who do you think you are to complain about anything she does? You live to serve. Period.

You can’t fix a relationship with someone who doesn’t view you as a human being. You also can’t use reason or the facts to resolve these issues. Just like Madoff, these women are better historical revisionists than the Texas Department of Education. If you can’t even agree on the same reality there’s no fixing the relationship or her. Just like Madoff’s clients, you will rarely see a return on your emotional and financial investments with this kind of woman. They will eventually leave you broke, brokenhearted and just plain broken.

Postscript: I had to Google “prison consultants.” Please follow the link above if you haven’t already. Who knew? A booming business serving white collar criminals. You really can learn something new everyday. Here’s another link from wikiHow on How to Survive in Federal Prison. I’m thinking of doing an adaptation for Shrink4Men.

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Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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