Hatred is a relatively stable feeling of intense dislike for another person, entity, or group. Hatred is distinct from short-lived feelings such as anger and disgust. While some forms of animosity may only manifest briefly and mildly, hatred is a form of active, ongoing hostility that often uses up significant emotional energy. When someone feels hatred for another person, they often spend much of their time fixating on their anger, contempt, or dislike of the other person.
Why Do People Hate?
Hate is part of the range of human emotions. Some researchers believe all people have the capacity to hate, while others believe true hatred is uncommon. What does seem clear is that hatred tends to emerge as a learned emotion that flourishes in the absence of compassion.
Feelings of hatred or intense emotional dislike develop for many reasons. People might begin to hate another person or group when they:
- Feel envy or want what the other person has. They may consider it unfair that someone has what they lack.
- Have contempt for another person or believe them to be inferior.
- Learn hatred from parents, their community, or other social groups.
- Are humiliated or mistreated by another person.
People also hate when they feel powerless. Rather than turning their anxiety and shame inward, they may project that negativity onto an external target. In some cases, people who experience bullying or abuse may grow to hate the person who harmed them.
In other cases, a target is hated more for what they represent than for specific actions they have taken. Individuals may believe the target of their hatred has harmful intentions toward them and would hurt them if they could. However, the target may not necessarily have hostile intentions, or the hatred may be disproportional to the injury.
For example, a student may hate a teacher who failed them in a class. The teacher may not have any hostility for the student and could simply be doing their job. However, the student may use the teacher as a stand-in for their frustration with academia as a whole. This hatred may prompt the student to try and harm the teacher, perhaps by spreading false rumors or sending a vicious email.
Hatred and Dehumanization
Studies on hatred suggest it tends to persist. Prolonged hatred may lead to a desire for revenge or preemptive action against a perceived threat. Some people harbor hatred for others but never act on it. Others become energized by hate and express their feelings through violent acts.
Feelings of hatred that develop toward certain a certain individual may eventually be redirected toward the entire group that person belongs to. This can lead to dehumanization of individuals or groups. Dehumanization is the act of seeing a person as inferior, uncivilized, or less than human.
Dehumanization research suggests that when people see others as less than human, empathy centers in the brain deactivate. For example, people who commit mass violence, cruelty, or hate crimes often rationalize these actions by comparing the victims to animals. Individuals who would typically balk at murdering another person may find it easier to kill a “subhuman” enemy.
How to Cope When You Are Hated
Coping with hatred can be difficult, especially when there’s no apparent cause for the hatred. You may wonder how someone can have such deep, negative feelings toward you. Believing someone hates you can affect your mood, mental health, and self-esteem.
Remember that people make mistakes. Someone you’ve hurt won’t always be able to forgive you. However, if you regret the action, consider how to learn and grow from what happened so that you don’t hurt anyone else.If someone hates you because they feel wronged by you, it’s possible you want to reach out to them. You may wish to discuss their feelings, apologize, or make the situation clear. This could help when someone is merely angry with you, but when it comes to hatred, it may be difficult to have a calm, rational discussion with the other person.
Taking a trusted friend or loved one with you can help. Getting advice from someone unbiased (like a licensed counselor) can also help put the situation in perspective. Depending on the circumstances, it may be best not to engage the other person.
If a coworker’s hatred for you affects your performance at work or even causes difficulties outside of work, Human Resources can give you advice or direct you to workplace resources.
When you’ve been threatened, or even if you just feel unsafe, you may want to seek advice from law enforcement. If you’re working with a therapist, it may help to start by talking through the situation openly in a therapy session. Your therapist can help you explore helpful solutions and offer support.
Internalized hatred can cause significant harm. In some cases, internalized self-hatred results from experiencing prejudice (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, etc.). Negative beliefs become a part of your internal experience, leading you to judge and criticize yourself according to the stereotypes society assigns you.
Self-hatred can also result from mistakes you’ve made. If you’ve hurt a loved one and lost a close relationship as a result, you may feel painful regret. You may also come to develop hatred toward yourself.
Many people judge themselves harshly, especially when feeling guilty for something they’ve done. If forgiveness from your loved one isn’t possible, or if you’re afraid to seek it, your feelings may intensify. Self-hatred can contribute to depression. It could also factor into self-harm or other attempts to punish the self.
Remember that people make mistakes. Someone you’ve hurt won’t always be able to forgive you. However, if you regret the action, consider how to learn and grow from what happened so that you don’t hurt anyone else. Just as compassion is the key to overcoming hatred, self-compassion can help heal self-hatred.
Developing self-compassion isn’t always easy. A compassionate counselor can help without judging you for any mistakes you may have made in the past. Therapy can help you find support and healing for all types of hatred.
- Blaszczak-Boxe, A. (2017, March 7). How the dehumanization of certain groups leads to a ‘vicious cycle’ of hate. Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/58154-how-dehumanization-leads-to-vicious-cycle-of-hate.html
- Fischer, A., Halperin, E., Canetti, D., & Jasini, A. (2018, August 2). Why we hate. Emotion Review, 10(4). Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1754073917751229
- Gaylin, W. (2003). Hatred: The psychological descent into violence. New York, NY: PublicAffairs Books.
- JonesPatulli, J. (2017). Why we hate others. Human Systems Dynamics Institute. Retrieved from https://www.hsdinstitute.org/resources/Why_we_hate_others.html
- Navarro, J. I. (2013). The psychology of hatred. The Open Criminology Journal, 6(1), 10-17. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273482719_The_Psychology_of_Hatred
- Prelinger, E. (2004). Thoughts on hate and aggression. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 59(1), 30-43. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16240605
- Resnick, B. (2017, March 7). The dark psychology of dehumanization, explained. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/7/14456154/dehumanization-psychology-explained
Last Updated: 05-13-2019
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DonnaAugust 15th, 2019 at 9:07 AM
I have a friend who hates another person with a passion because of a racial comment he made two years ago regarding Jews and she is Jewish. The comment wasn’t directed at her, he was talking to someone else. She heard it and interjected with a comment. Needless to say she has been harboring this hatred toward him since then. My husband and I have no ill feelings towards this man and his wife. I don’t agree with what he said and I think it was a rude and stupid thing to say. Anyway, 2 years have passed and her hatred is like a poison. My husband and I went to dinner with this man and his wife. When we came home she came over to my house and started berating me at the top of her lungs for going to dinner with “that man”, asking me about loyalty in friendship. We have been close friends for 45 years, our children grew up together and are still in contact with one another. I went to her house to try and talk about it and all she did was scream about how horrible this man is. Her husband said this is not a good time to talk about it. I went home devastated and just broke down crying. Her friendship means the world to me but I’ve never been a person to harbor hatred. I don’t know how or what to say to her and I’m looking for help.
CLETUSSeptember 4th, 2019 at 9:59 PM
KateMay 23rd, 2020 at 7:50 AM
Can’t we respect people’s hatred?
IcestormshadowAugust 2nd, 2020 at 5:04 AM
That’s like asking someone if they can respect a thorny greenbriar vine wrapped around them, taking it off and yeeting it away from you is the least harmful to said person. Similarly, the way to “respect” it would be to remove that person from your life
NaAugust 16th, 2020 at 5:43 PM
That just makes you tolerant of a bigot – not a great option.
Michael RobersonSeptember 18th, 2020 at 1:16 AM
You’re absolutely right Kate I’m grown and I been called all kind of awful things, racial slurs included, through out my life but you know what I feel you can’t we just accept that that’s the way the world is and respect it (It’s discrimination because of the petty Ill will we harbor for others that should be addressed like these police killings thats trending in black neighborhoods for example not the hatred itself because in an ideal world I should be able to feel how I want to feel but as an adult I should possess the ability to handle all of affairs without allowing bias to dictate my decision making.)
AllenSeptember 18th, 2020 at 7:22 AM
Hatred is a basic emotion which is good in itself but when applied to persons, due to differences of race, gender, vision, religion and the like becomes ugly and dangerous. So hating injustice for instance can be a good . However how do we quantify what is good. This was the original question. The second question was, “Do Humans have the right to decide on this question?”
JeremyOctober 8th, 2020 at 5:59 PM
Hatred always comes from hurt. Feeling indifferent with someone who doesn’t look or act like you is instinctive. You can never be rid of instinct, sad to say, but we are intelligent enough to overcome it.
JelaniDecember 18th, 2020 at 8:55 PM
Lol just reading these comments makes me hate people even more.
JaquelineJanuary 3rd, 2021 at 4:54 AM
I am consumed with hatred for the people who have hurt me and it’s destroying me but I can’t stop it. I feel paralysed by it and unable to move forward in my life because of it. I hate myself the most though 😓
LillianJanuary 4th, 2021 at 10:14 AM
i hate alot of people because of the way they act of what they think sometimes i just wanna punch them in the face
JonathanFebruary 11th, 2021 at 4:55 PM
You’re not wrong. Hatred isn’t destructive. It all comes down as to what degree you are capable of controlling that anger. For example, I feel hatred because teachers didn’t try their best to assess my needs as an individual. For someone with Social Anxiety, I wasn’t able to express it to them at the given moment. But after 5 years I was able to express how awful they really are. Was I wrong by doing that? Perhaps some could say yes. I didn’t think so.
If someone fell that low in life and you had to be acknowledged because of it, no matter how it’s expressed, then you’re better off being sorry and learning from those mistakes.
So in the end. The teachers learnt something. And so did I. Did I resort to violence? Of course not. I just spouted the truth. With extreme anger hidden beneath my words. While some could say that extreme language is sometimes not okay, sometimes people will get the message that way, as long as you don’t take it to the degree of harassing the individual. We have freedom of speech. It all comes down to what extent you can use that freedom.
JonathanFebruary 11th, 2021 at 5:06 PM
I disagree, IceStormShadow, the only way we can improve as a society is if we learn to express our emotions adequately, no matter what the emotion may be. Sometimes being a little mean is perfectly acceptable, but setting your point across the most logical way is the most effective way of perhaps changing someones persona. Sometimes logic is a fundamental step towards changing someone. Of course this isn’t applicable towards all individuals, because you know, some aren’t ready to accept criticism, others however will always try to find a way to change a certain aspect of their life.
By feeling hatred, am I saying to react against someone out of anger? Of course not. I do think that there should be a hint of anger as to how you express yourself, but the most important way to express yourself is out of logic. Understand if it’s logical to feel this hatred, and instead of using it to destroy the life of someone, use it to at least try to change someone. Hatred in itself isn’t bad. It’s bad depending on how you react :)
JaquelineFebruary 13th, 2021 at 8:06 AM
Hey Jonathan! I totally agree with your comment, however as an emotion hatred can be all-consuming (like sadness) which almost paralyses the constructive thinking process and leads to abrupt behaviour which is often inappropriate and I admit sometimes unjust. I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and struggle to control rapidly escalating emotions most particularly feelings of rejection and rage. I accept they may be perceived beliefs and not necessarily based on actual fact but the powerful feelings they create are real enough and make it hard to stop and think!
FalguniFebruary 17th, 2021 at 7:44 PM
This woman my husbands birth parent persistent to be part of our life. My husband was adopted by her parents as she didn’t and wasn’t capable of taking care of him. She never did eventually. Eventually she found somebody but didn’t want to leave her parents home or luxurious life her brother was providing therefore she blackmailed her husband to stay with her parent. Eventually brother gave her a house. When I met my husband she was very much part of his life as they were brought up like siblings. I strongly believe in adoption so she made up lies about his birth story and lied to me about so many things to make her look vulnerable. She insisted her husband is having an affair and as her mum died she didn’t have home to live into. She needs to move in with my husband (then my bf) I didn’t give much reaction as she was so self-centred, cared for herself and demanded full time servant, designer clothes and perfumes etc from her man who was financial stretched. Her possessive nature etc made me think if I would consider a partner comes with burden like that.
I had to make it clear with my bf that it is not going to be an option for me to live with her. I clarified with her as well and if she chose to I am happy to leave before making long term commitments. After long hardship and bitter relationship my bf agreed. However she insisted on coming to our place everyday in the evening, my daily chore was return from work, pick her up, cook clean and drop her off. I was exhausted after 9months being gf I didn’t have to do any of this but the pressure was built on. She claimed to be mother but when it came down to talking to my family about our marriage she decided to step away and cried she had no money or jewellery to give us as present. However this is the lady with bank balance of 100k and large jewellery locker box. I didn’t care. But real drama begin after our marriage, she spread rumours about me and turned my husbands relative against me. I can’t stand people with double standard, lies and pretends to be innocent. I feel forced and obliged to be civilised with her when I can’t even respect her in my heart. How do I deal with this? My husband insisting she comes stay with us for a month or so and I feel anxiety and sadness. I can’t deal with this feeling and never felt hatred or anger towards anyone before.
Not too sure how to deal with this feeling anymore
KateFebruary 18th, 2021 at 8:44 AM
Your post is about your husband and his mother. It’s like you have nullified yourself in order to appease them. Why should you do that? Your husband knows your feelings but doesn’t seem to respect your wishes -it’s as if your needs and desires are not taken into consideration. I would personally disown both of them: you’ve been dragged into a very toxic relationship and I don’t envy you at all. Get rid of these emotional vampires. You deserve to have a happy and stress free life. Go for it!
JaquiFebruary 18th, 2021 at 10:32 AM
Well said Kate, totally agree. Husbands and their mothers can ruin your life. Falguni your feelings are valid and should be listened to xx
LaurieFebruary 23rd, 2021 at 3:12 AM
Hi there ive been in this tough spot for 8 years. My daughter-in-law truly despise me. First I believe she was jealous of the relationship my son and I used to have. She fixed that though. She happens to be very overweight and I’m pretty thin and she hates that. When I come into her house to visit the Grandkids, she won’t even say hello. It is true that I begged my son not to marry her and I believe he did marry her because she had a big family and liked them. I raised him as a single parent and spent the best years of my life doing everything I could to see that he turned out to be a good man for somebody. But she has totally ruled him and I mean she has every minute of his day scheduled. In the four years my granddaughter has been alive this year around Christmas was the very first time she was ever at my house. I insisted that he bring her. I have been to visit those kids every week since they were born. They have three now and I know he would never leave her because he loves those kids. I can’t talk to him about anything because she grilled him and anything that we talk about she knows. I have gotten to the point that I will not go down there. It’s that uncomfortable and the kids are noticing. I am not a hateful person and I truly can’t stand the glares. She has never even offered me anything to drink. I have an auto immune disease that can get pretty bad at times but as you can guess she has not once ever ask me how I was doing. I definitely can’t talk to her. She either doesn’t know how to hold a conversation or just doesn’t give a crap. When I tell her some thing right away she turns around and tells me something about herself instead of having a back-and-forth. She is so connected to her mother that she can’t do anything without her. I have literally begged them to include me in some of their family outings, to the zoo or whatever like they include her parents, but it never happens and it never will. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve set my sights to the days when those kids are old enough to decide where they go for themselves. I just really hope I’m alive to see it.
LaurieFebruary 23rd, 2021 at 3:29 AM
Hi KAte i honestly can see myself all over your post. Except the players are a bit different. I have in the past described them as emotional vampires. Especially her it really feels like shes sucking the life out of me when im there. Usually i just cant wait to go and never want to get in the car to go there. I know thats not the right way to feel but shes reinforced her hatred of me week after week its hard to be excited. And as was said my son has no respect for me or how im feeling or how damaging it is. He “doesnt want to get involved”. He knows it will only cause a hysterical shouting match. I do believe you should as should i remove myself from the toxic situation..
LaurieFebruary 23rd, 2021 at 3:46 AM
Hiya Falguni Sounds to me like she full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder i am up close familiar with it. My mother had it and traumatized all my siblings with her lies, half truths pitting us and even her own grandkids against each other. If you didnt do what she wanted shed throw a fake nervous breakdown. Finally i got fed up and did some research. At first my sisters thought i was horrible for saying those things about. Got to the point if i wanted to talk with i realized ii hd to take some as a witness. Finally everybody really took a good look at how she had and was hurting them. Trust me, they will never go for help bc theres nothing wrong with them. If your hubby maakes one move to having her live there pack your bags and just go. Once shes in shell never go.
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