Some brief comments on the psychology of hate…

Gaylin (2003) proposed that real hate is a mental abnormality (p.14) that exhibits obsessive-paranoid ideation and whose emotional core is rage (p.34): ‘Hatred is a neurotic attachment to a self-created enemy that has been designed to rationalize the anxiety and torment of a demeaning existence.’ (p. 240) Gaylin also suggested that ‘the hate-driven people live in a distorted world of their own perceptions.’ (p. 202)” (Royzman in Sternberg, 2005, p.8, The Psychology of Hate.))

Losing something…  Another basis for fear… and therefore hatred…

It is a widely accepted premise that people will fight harder to keep something they have than they will to get something they do not have. Basic human freedoms and liberties, and Maslow’s basic needs are perhaps the exceptions.

The drive to acquire and the drive to defend are seldom at odds with one another, but it is my premise, from years of observation, that a challenge to the status quo, the loss of something, or even change, may create tension, fear and even hatred.

Loss of or even the fear of the loss of wealth, personal jealousies over fear of loss of affection, change in social status, change in political power, even change in working methods or organizational re-organization, all may cause immense emotional reactions, leading often to hateful words and actions.

It is not healthy to hate one’s self, or others, but self-loathing is particularly destructive. Accordingly, others are often used for transference. The Tea Bagging Republicans are angry and frustrated over their impotence, their weight gains and wrinkles, their lack of vocabulary. This is true personally and it is also true in large social movements. Get a bunch of them together and similar to unsupervised 14 year olds, there grows this mass transfer of fear, blame, anger, and even hatred and out comes hateful speech and hateful actions. We have seen it in the murder of civil rights workers, “liberals”, and immigrant workers. We see it now in cowardly phone calls and Sarah’s illiterate speeches.

We see this hysterical fear of change fed over mass media, in pamphlets, over talk radio and television, in political speeches, by individuals and by organizations. Serious debate gives way to clichés, slogans, and name calling, chanting and yelling. It has and can get worse. In the electronic world, in the United States, there seems to be no way to calm the storm and seek peace and rational thought. I hear conservatives saying they hate liberals, and recommending great harm to them.

Where such a phenomena may take us is frightening and dangerous to a free society.