The Psychology of Hatred
On why hatred is necessary in this world and helps refine our basic aggression
Hate or hatred like love is one of the most personal emotions in that the expressions could be widely varied and even too subtle to decipher. Hatred is truly the opposite of love because the manifestation of hatred is almost like the manifestation of love. This is because, in most cases only two people, the one who hates and the one who is hated seem to perceive the underlying dynamics of the relationship or the emotions involved and other people may be unaware. There could be several reasons for hatred and this could be associated with envy, fear, ideology or power related issues. For example, an intense envy towards a sibling could make other siblings hate him or a fear of repression from powerful people could lead to hatred in less privileged people. Power issues could often lead to hatred or even a love hate relationship as a man feeling the control or domination of his wife could enter into power struggles or a sort of love-hate relationship with her. A terrorist or religious group could hate people of other groups due to ideological differences.
Hatred like love, need some form of attachment, you have to care enough about a person to hate them. Hatred like love would also be rather obsessive and addictive although as extreme love (especially romantic) for a person would lead to sexual relations, extreme hate for a person would lead to violence. Thus, hatred, is also a form of passion, manifested as aggression rather than sex. Thus if according to Freudian psychoanalysis, sex and aggression are our two basic instincts, love and hatred are our two basic and most fundamental emotions on which all other emotions are built. A newborn child would either love her mother’s breast or hate it, she would love to be touched and carried around by her carers or hate the process and this would result in her other emotions of happiness, sorrow etc.
Considering how or why hatred could be manifested among individuals, it is possible to delineate the two types of hatred in people:
1. Personal Hatred – This can be the dynamics with a friend or an enemy, a colleague, a family member or someone you know within a social circle. Personal hatred is for people you personally know and care enough to hate them. The manifestation of this sort of hatred is usually subtle and only two people involved would understand or perceive the effects of the emotion. With family members like a partner or parent, personal hatred could manifest as an interplay of both love and hate as power dynamics get into the picture. Power struggles with the father or husband could often lead to this sort of love-hate equation and would reflect in your other close personal relationships. Personal hatred could often lead to more generalized form of hatred. This leads to the next type of hatred.
2. General Hatred – Hatred could thus be very personal or could be more general and directed towards a group. This sort of hatred is directed towards certain groups or types of people and manifests in hatred for whites, hatred for blacks, hatred for Jews, hatred for Muslims, hatred for men, hatred for women and so on. This type of hatred is more generalized although may well be triggered due to personal experiences. For example a woman with negative experiences with a man may develop hatred for all men or a black man who has faced some form of discrimination in society may develop hatred towards all whites. This sort of hatred could be racially motivated or gender related and of course these have specific terms as anti-Semitism, misogyny etc. This type of hatred is less personal and shared with other members of society and is thus a more social form of hatred, rather than a personal type of hatred. Terrorist groups showing hatred towards specific nations or people share this type of hatred motivated by ideological orientations. Politicians who hate members of another party are also motivated by ideological or power concerns. Group based or general hatred is thus further categorized as social hatred, sexual or gender based, racial, or ideological hatred.
The underlying psychological dynamics of hatred is generally explained with our need to release aggression. Aggression like sex is one of our fundamental and basic instincts and just as we need release of our sexual energies by developing sexual relationships and exploring the emotion of love, the emotion of hate helps us to release our aggressive tendencies and could be fundamental to our well being. It is almost necessary to hate as it is necessary to love. But this does not mean that our aggressive tendencies and emotion of hatred will have to be released through violence or some other kind of destructive action, the hatred that we feel cannot be controlled just as love may not be controlled but our actions on these emotions can be controlled. For example, you may well love someone for many months or even years but decide not to act on it and embark in some sort of platonic love relationship. In a similar manner it is possible to hate someone and yet continue some sort of platonic hate relationship without becoming violent or even subtly aggressive.
Channeling or appropriate directing of sexual or love needs through creativity and in Freudian term ‘sublimation’ works well for hatred and hate can be channeled successfully through sports, or other kind of aggressive activity. Even love or sexual needs can be controlled or channelled when you participate in aggressive sports. So, the next time you feel the need to release your passion, possibly caused by sexual or aggressive instincts, just engage in some aggressive competitive sports and you will feel much better. If you feel excessive love which is a type of sexual need but more refined, you will possibly have to engage in creative pursuits. Hatred could in a way also be a refined form of aggression and releasing hatred through writing, debates or constructive criticism could be a creative way out.
Hatred as I have tried to explain here is not all that bad, it is a form of passion, a necessary release of our aggressive instincts and in fact a refined expression of aggression, just as love is a more refined expression of sexual desires. If love is a sugar coating on our real sexual desires, hatred is just a salt coating on our underlying aggressive desires. The emotion of love exists like a valve, like a filter so that human sexual expression remains controlled and civilized. In a similar manner, the emotion of hate exists so that human expression of aggression remains controlled and within limits. You will see many placards, billboards and handouts asking that individuals in this world should somehow ‘Stop Hatred’, that seems a kind of motto for human life. It is practically impossible to stop hatred, it is a basic human emotion, and in a civilized society it is almost necessary to hate just as it is necessary to love so that there is no unbridled release of aggression through violence. What we can stop however is the negative expression of hatred that is manifested through violence and other destructive tendencies and channel our aggressive tendencies creatively through art, literature, politics, sports, public debates and other constructive channels of self expression.
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