Recently we've seen a couple of false blogger-promoted stories that were quite damaging to innocent parties. The falsehoods promoted weren't trivial reporting errors. They were errors that turned innocent people into despicable villains. After the stories were exposed as false, a number of bloggers admirably apologized for their errors while others maintained that they felt no need to apologize because their mistakes were "honest." I was reminded once again of McWilliams and Lependorf's article on the narcissistic denial of gratitude and remorse:
Narcissistically driven people do not seem to understand that saying one is sorry represents an expression of empathy with the injured party irrespective of whether the hurt was intentional or avoidable. The woman who is kept waiting and worrying when her husband is late coming home will feel immediately forgiving if he expresses genuine sorrow that she has suffered on his account. In narcissistically defensive states, however, people seem to go by the general rule that such expressions of sympathy and regret are called for only if they were "at fault" in some way. Thus, the tardy husband meets his wife's anxious greeting with, "It wasn't my fault; there was a traffic jam," communicating not remorse but resentment of her distress and rejection of its validity.I would add one clarification: knowing that a harmful act was unintentional usually does matter to the injured party. Deliberately stomping on someone's toe is going to be taken by the victim as a far worse offense than accidentally stepping on their toe. But in either case, an apology is in order. Narcissistically defensive people step on toes without apologizing for the pain they cause. They aren't concerned about the suffering of the injured person; their only concern is that they remain blameless.
The organizing, overriding issue for people with narcissistic preoccupations is the preservation of their internal sense of self-cohesiveness or self-approval, not the quality of their relations with other people. As a result, when they feel their imperfections have been exposed, the pressing question for them is the repair of their inner self-concept, not the mending of the feelings of those in their external world (cf. Stolorow's [1979b] definitions of narcissism). They are consequently likely, in a state of defensiveness about exposed faults, to protest that they meant to do the right thing, as if the purity of their inner state is the pertinent issue - to others as well as to themselves.