The origin of…Hate

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


Hate is a deep and intense emotion of dislike and is closely linked to love. Scientists have even proved that some of the nervous circuits in the brain that are active when one feels hate are the same as those responsible for love. Hate, like love, is often irrational and both can result in acts of extreme behavior. The only difference seems to be in the cerebral cortex (the part that is associated with judgment and reasoning). Large parts of the cerebral cortex become deactivated when feeling love, but when feeling hate only a small area is deactivated.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) described hate as: “The ego hates, abhors and pursues with intent to destroy all objects which are a source of unpleasurable feeling for it.” (The Instincts and their vicissitudes, 1915). Love and hate come from different sources but they both unite in Eros. Hate seeks to establish connections, not make disconnections, it is energetic and more concerned with vitality than inertia. Thus, it is, just like love, part of Eros.
Humans love and hate impulsively from emotional motives that are sometimes weakened by reflection and consideration. These feelings start in babies when they feel both love and hate for their mother´s breast. Love when it is a source of nutrition and hate when it is a source of frustration. Later on, when the infant becomes aware of the conflicts between love and hate, fear of losing the loved object arises and with it feelings of distress.

Also Max Scheler (1874-1928) defined hate as a movement of destruction: a movement wherein the value of an object or a person is degraded or demeaned. According to Scheler: “Love and hate are acts in which the value-realm accessible to the feelings of a being…is either extended or narrowed”. Love and hate have to be distinguished from psychical and sensible feelings. Instead, they are characterized by an intentional function (one always loves or hates something) and Scheler calls them spiritual feelings. They must belong to the same anthropological sphere as theoretical consciousness and the acts of willing and thinking.
In his work he speaks of solidarity that consists of responsibility for ones own actions and co-responsibility for the actions of others. If another person commits an act of hate it means that I, and each member of this community, have not loved deeply enough and have failed to create a world wherein hate does not exist.
He also speaks of ressentiment, a self-defeating way of thinking that is non-productive and a waste of time and energy. Enduring hate hurts the hater more than the object of their hate, it enslaves by preventing emotional growth because the hater cannot surpass the feeling of pain that was caused by what or who is hated.

More information:
Love and Hate: Psychoanalytic Perspectives (2002) by David Mann

a very strong feeling of dislike (source: Merriam Webster).

The English hate derives from Old English hatian, to hate, from Proto-Germanic *haton,, from the Proto Indo European root *kad- , sorrow/hatred.
Dutch haat has the same roots.
Spanish odio and Italian odio come from Latin odium, meaning boredom/hate/hatred/unpopularity.

Hate in other languages:
Dutch: haat
Spanish: el odio
Italian: l´odio (m)


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