Why hatred is bad?

Is There Hatred in Your Heart?

Hate is one of our most overused and misunderstood words. What is hate? Why do we hate? Where does hate originate from? Does it have any benefits? Is it innate or acquired? Are some people born more hateful than others? Or does it strictly come from our conditioning and culture? And if so, who was the first hater in history? Is all hatred bad? Is there a “good” type of hate? How do we distinguish between toxic hatred and healthy repulsion to despicable behavior? And what is the relationship between love and hate? Does love mean hating anything antithetical to your love? Is hate the absence of love?

Please join Rabbi Jacobson in this — well, loving — post-Shavuot workshop, and discover how Sinai carries the secret of love and hate. Learn how it can help you access the roots of your own deeply-ingrained emotions to help you not only better master your reactions and attitudes, but also rewire your neurons and feelings. Imagine living a hate-less life. A life filled with love without any toxins in your heart.


Lexicon Everyone
πᾶς (pas)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3956: All, the whole, every kind of. Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.
ὁ (ho)
Article – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.
μισῶν (misōn)
Verb – Present Participle Active – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3404: To hate, detest, love less, esteem less. From a primary misos; to detest; by extension, to love less.
αὐτοῦ (autou)
Personal / Possessive Pronoun – Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Strong’s Greek 846: He, she, it, they, them, same. From the particle au; the reflexive pronoun self, used of the third person, and of the other persons.
ἀδελφὸν (adelphon)
Noun – Accusative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 80: A brother, member of the same religious community, especially a fellow-Christian. A brother near or remote.
ἐστίν (estin)
Verb – Present Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular
Strong’s Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.
a murderer,
ἀνθρωποκτόνος (anthrōpoktonos)
Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 443: A murderer, man-slayer. From anthropos and kteino; a manslayer.
καὶ (kai)
Strong’s Greek 2532: And, even, also, namely.
you know
οἴδατε (oidate)
Verb – Perfect Indicative Active – 2nd Person Plural
Strong’s Greek 1492: To know, remember, appreciate.
ὅτι (hoti)
Strong’s Greek 3754: Neuter of hostis as conjunction; demonstrative, that; causative, because.
αἰώνιον (aiōnion)
Adjective – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 166: From aion; perpetual.
ζωὴν (zōēn)
Noun – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 2222: Life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence. From zao; life.
{does} not
οὐκ (ouk)
Strong’s Greek 3756: No, not. Also ouk, and ouch a primary word; the absolute negative adverb; no or not.
μένουσαν (menousan)
Verb – Present Participle Active – Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3306: To remain, abide, stay, wait; with acc: I wait for, await. A primary verb; to stay.
ἐν (en)
Strong’s Greek 1722: In, on, among. A primary preposition denoting position, and instrumentality, i.e. A relation of rest; ‘in, ‘ at, on, by, etc.
πᾶς (pas)
Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 3956: All, the whole, every kind of. Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.
ἀνθρωποκτόνος (anthrōpoktonos)
Noun – Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong’s Greek 443: A murderer, man-slayer. From anthropos and kteino; a manslayer.
Verse 15. – As in 1 John 4:20, St. John passes at once from not loving to hating, treating the two as equivalent. He takes no account of the neutral ground of indifference. He that is not for his brother is against him. Indifference is hate quiescent, there being nothing to excite it. Love is the only security against hate. And as every one who does not love is potentially a hater, so every hater is potentially a murderer. A murderer is a hater who expresses his hatred in the most emphatic way. A hater who does not murder abstains for various reasons from this extreme way of expressing his hate. But the temper of the two men is the same; and it is obvious (οἴδατε “ye know what needs no evidence”) that every murderer is incapable of possessing eternal life. It is the murderous temper, not the act of homicide, that excludes from eternal life. St. John, of course, does not mean that murder is an unpardonable sin; but he shows that hate and death go together, as love and life, and that the two pairs are mutually exclusive. How can life and the desire to extinguish life be compatible? It is very forced to interpret ἀνθρωποκτόνος as either “destroyer of his own soul,” or “destroyer of the hated man’s soul,” by provoking him to return hate for hate. Jump to Previous Abiding Age-During Ages Continuing Eternal Hate Hates Hateth Hating Life Murderer Remaining TakerJump to Next Abiding Age-During Ages Continuing Eternal Hate Hates Hateth Hating Life Murderer Remaining TakerLinks 1 John 3:15 NIV
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Alphabetical: a abiding and Anyone brother eternal Everyone has hates him his in is know life murderer no that who you
NT Letters: 1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer (1J iJ 1Jn i jn 1 jo) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools

You feel hate for a person that you think is a bad person, who is capable of doing bad things.

For example, you may feel hate for someone who has deliberately hurt you or a loved one in the past, for someone who has gravely betrayed your trust, or someone who has deeply harmed your self-identity.

Among all negative emotions, hate is probably the most infamous one. It is often seen as a purely destructive emotion that we would be better without. Although it does often do more bad than good, hate may in some cases be functional in making us avoid or banish certain people based on their past actions.

Unlike anger-emotions, hate is directed at a whole person rather than a specific action or event. It involves the belief that the other person is inherently bad or evil, and that there is little to no chance that this could change. This belief is usually not established from a single action, but a pattern of behavior. Furthermore, because you think this person is bad beyond change, you believe there is no point in any constructive approach. Rather, you just wish something bad would happen to them, or at least, that they would disappear from your life. Although hate can definitely lead to violent behavior, this is not necessarily the case, depending on the person and the situation. Often, someone will just avoid the hated person. If that is not possible, for example, because they work closely together, other strategies are used to create psychological distance.

Hate can also be directed towards groups, a form that is often actively stimulated in wartime. Hating the enemy can relieve feelings of guilt for one’s own wrongdoings.

The word ‘hate’ is subject to some inflation in everyday use, as it is much more often used than the emotion actually occurs. For instance, someone may say he ‘hates’ a type of music, when he merely dislikes it, or that he hates a colleague, when she merely annoys him.

In the comic, Murphy finds out that his colleague Patrick, who earlier asked him to trust him with his presentation, has been going behind his back. To add insult to injury, he has been actively lobbying to cut back on Murphy’s department.

Anger and hatred can make us feel happy, says study

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Study finds the secret to happiness may lie in feeling more negative emotions

People are happier if they are able to feel emotions they desire – even if those emotions are unpleasant, such as anger and hatred, a study suggests.

The results of the study, compiled by an international team of researchers, found happiness is “more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain”.

Researchers asked participants what emotions they desired and felt.

This was then compared to how they rated their overall happiness, or life satisfaction.

The researchers found that while people overall wanted to experience more pleasant emotions, they had the greatest life satisfaction if the emotions they experienced matched those they desired.

The cross-cultural study included some 2,300 university students from the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland and Singapore.

Negative emotions

“If you feel emotions you want to feel, even if they’re unpleasant, then you’re better off,” lead researcher Dr Maya Tamir from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the BBC News website.

Surprisingly, the study also found 11% of people wanted to feel less of positive emotions, such as love and empathy, while 10% of people wanted to feel more negative emotions, such as hatred and anger.

Dr Tamir explained: “Someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think they should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so want to feel more anger than they actually do in that moment.”

She added that a woman who wants to leave an abusive partner but is not willing to do so may be happier if she loved him less, for example.

‘Feeling bad can be good’

Dr Anna Alexandrova, from the University of Cambridge’s Wellbeing Institute, said the research challenges how people think of happiness.

This study nicely calls into question a traditional measure of happiness that defines it as a ratio of positive to negative emotions, she said.

But when it came to unpleasant emotions, this study assessed only anger and hatred, which Dr Alexandrova said is a limitation.

“Anger and hatred may be compatible with happiness, but there is no indication that other unpleasant feelings, such as fear, guilt, sadness and anxiety, are,” she said.

Prof Tamir said the research does not apply to those with clinical depression: “People who are clinically depressed want to be more sad and less happy than other people. That only exacerbates the problem.”

She said the study sheds light on the downsides of expecting to always feel happy.

“People want to feel very good all the time in Western cultures. Even if they feel good most of the time, they may still think that they should feel even better, which might make them less happy overall.”

Anger is learned behavior; and so is hatred.

Ben FathiFollow Oct 9, 2018 · 6 min read

“Not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.” — James Baldwin. I am not Your Negro.

Anger is the external manifestation of our feelings of frustration projected towards others. If I’m angry, chances are I feel frustrated about something in my environment, something I can’t change. Instead of dealing with the root cause, I choose to unleash my frustration on someone else. The situation may not improve but it sure feels good to get the anger out of my system.

Of course, we’re all born with the physical ability to feel the biological and chemical changes that accompany anger (flushed face, raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, etc.) but the emotion also needs a target, someone or something to be angry at. A newborn doesn’t even understand the concepts of self and other. It has no way of knowing what it means to be angry. It has to learn that.

Early on in life, children observe situations in which anger is used by those around them as a seemingly reasonable and effective response. They learn, through observation, how and when it’s appropriate to use anger in stressful social situations. It’s only then that we start seeing children exhibit and express anger as an emotion.

Watch a baby carefully for the first few months of his or her development and this fact becomes obvious. Newborn babies exhibit very few recognizable human emotions other than crying due to physical discomfort or emotional distress. Very quickly, within the first few weeks, they pick up visual cues from their parents about expressions of happiness and start smiling in response to positive experiences. Surprise and joy are also common expressions as they encounter and understand new situations.

However, you’ll never see an angry baby and there’s a good reason for that. Emotions such as anger, hatred, and fear, are more complex in that they require recognition of social constructs such as self and others. This is why young children seem fearless; they have no concept of self to be protective of. Similarly, you need to be angry at someone or at something, and it takes a few more months for children to develop a sense of individuals as durable entities with personalities that they can interact with. Even then, they don’t exhibit anger as an emotion.

They then learn over the next few months, through observation of those around them, what it means to be angry and how that emotion can be used as a tool in social situations. It’s then, and only then, that we start seeing children exhibit anger in their behavior. They watch mom or dad or the babysitter turn red with anger, yell and scream, and then calm down. The first few times they witness this, the look on their faces is one of confusion and incomprehension. They have no idea what they’re witnessing.

Wait, what is this? I don’t recognize this behavior. Why is he (or she) getting all worked up and screaming? This doesn’t make any sense. What objective does that achieve? I’m so confused.

Ah, I see now. It’s a legitimate form of behavior in social situations when you are frustrated about something and seems to always result in the person feeling better immediately afterwards — regardless of whether the situation actually changed or not.

I can either pick up these toys my brother left on the ground or I can yell at him for being inconsiderate and lazy. Wow, that does make me feel good. Lesson learned.

The concepts of anger and hatred require an understanding of the social concepts that a newborn baby clearly does not possess: you, me, mom, dad, brother, dog. None of these mean anything to a newborn. Frustration, by necessity, must come first as an emotion, just as we solidify the concept of self. I can’t control or change X, therefore I feel frustrated about the situation. To be angry, by comparison, requires not just an understanding of a given situation and my (in)ability to change it, but also the concept of an “other” who could be blamed for the situation as a proxy for my frustration.

They only learn that this is a valid (and sometimes successful) emotional response through observing those around them over repeated episodes; of adults throwing temper tantrums at each other and sometimes, oddly and inexplicably, even at inanimate objects: the damn car, the stupid computer, the f’ing microwave oven!

But, you’ll say, anger and aggression have been seen in many other species as well. Just look at the apes. It’s in our genes.

There’s a difference between aggression and anger. The former is a biological formula programmed into us by evolution. The latter is, by necessity, a social construct. The lion is never really angry at the gazelle he’s chasing. That’s just dinner. He may show tons of aggression to get the desired goal (food) but I doubt you’ll detect any anger towards the gazelle. He will only get angry (at himself) if and when he becomes frustrated in his attempts, when he stumbles or misses the mark repeatedly. He also gets angry at his mates or his cubs or his wife. Those are all social constructs with plenty of opportunity for learned behavior and for frustrating social situations.

Similarly, hate, as an emotion, requires an understanding not just of all the above social concepts but also of entities as diverse as celery (my personal nemesis) and celebrity (who doesn’t hate Justin Bieber?), as irrelevant as religion, or as opaque as race. There seems to be no shortage of things to hate in the universe — and the list is ever growing. Bieber just happens to be at the center of the Venn diagram of all sets of things hateable.

The point remains, though. Anger is learned behavior. Frustration is a slow burn while anger is the volcano that releases pressure. And anger begets hate. Hate is just frustration and anger projected to a group or category instead of an individual. Of course, it will take the child years to understand what it means to be a Jew or a Muslim or a Christian, a Mexican or a negro or a homosexual — take your pick.

But, by then, he has perfected his anger skills. And it takes the same amount of effort to be angry at your sister at age three as it does to claim you hate Muslims or gays or blacks at age twelve — in both cases barely understanding what the object of your hatred, your anger, really means. Here, too, we often learn by watching those around us and mimicking what they claim to hate. And seldom do we slow down later in life long enough to question those beliefs.

How Hatred only Hurts You

By Joanna Kleovoulou, Clinical Psychologist, Founder and Director of PsychMatters Centre

“Holding on to Hate is like letting someone live rent-free in your mind”

Many of us associate the month of February with love, adoration and friendship, with Valentine’s Day shooting its arrow just around the corner. But for many of us, struggling to let go of past hurts and betrayals locks us into a spiral of mistrust and ill-health.

Hatred is a feeling that we all have felt and experienced at some point in our lives, especially when we have been betrayed or hurt by someone that we are attached to. Hateful feelings are normal when they occur sporadically. However, the effects of feeling hatred over a long period of time can have devastating effects on your mind and body. Feelings of rage and hatred build up in the mind, body and soul, affecting the body’s organs and natural processes and breeding further negative emotions. Hatred is a form of neurosis, fixation and judgment that is harmful to you. If continued, it leads to conflicts in relationships and to bodily dis-ease.

Research shows that hatred changes the chemistry in the brain as it stimulates the premotor cortex which is responsible for planning and execution of motion. This prepares us to act aggressively when feeling hateful, either to defend or as an attack . This activation also triggers the autonomic nervous system, creating “fight or flight” responses, increasing cortisol and adrenalin. Both these hormones deplete the adrenals and contribute to weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, depression and chronic illness. And so the cycle of bodily and mental dis-ease continues. Hatred also triggers the mind to try to predict what the actions of the person being hated may do, as a way to protect you, but this leads to further anxiety, restlessness, obsessive thinking and paranoia, which also then impacts negatively in the way you engage in relationships. It’s important to note that all these reactions affect only the hater, and not the hated, breaking down your nervous – immune – and endocrine system, and your mental well-being.

The opposite of hatred is not love. It is mental and emotional detachment. Hatred attaches you to the thing or person you hate. Hatred is an intense repulsion that creates a mirror effect in that it attracts the person back to the thing hated in order to be repulsed by it over and over. Hatred is bitter-sweet as it inflates the ego and makes you feel very superior and self-righteous against the thing or one that is hated, only breeding further pain.

Tips on getting rid of Hatred:

  • Acknowledge that you are full of hatred. If you can admit that you are feeling hateful, then you can begin to deal with this emotion and find a solution to the problem.
  • Understand why you are feeling hate. Look within yourself and ask why you are upset. Hatred usually comes from a place of fear, insecurity or mistrust.
  • Try to catch yourself in your hatred. The mind in its ego state, will perpetuate it by saying confirming labelling statements such as “She’s really such a @*&?*.”
  • When you catch yourself in these phrases, words or actions, stop yourself, recognise that it just feeds your hatred and builds up more anger.
  • Take a step back. In the heat of the moment it can be hard to make wise decisions. Take a break, go for a walk or practice meditation until you have calmed down. Take deep breaths and allow yourself to relax. Once your mind is calm, you can will be able to control your emotions in a more efficient manner bringing perspective to your thoughts and feelings.
  • Deal with it. Instead of ignoring the issue, try to find a solution to the problem. If the situation is beyond your control, try to resolve it in your head by shifting your mindset. You may not be able to change a particular person or situation, but you can change how you think about them. Or, do what needs to be done, preferably in an even-handed and open-minded way.
  • Talk to someone you trust as talking to a close friend, family member or a psychologist about something painful, can help to alleviate the negative feelings you are having. They can often offer valuable advice or guidance.

Before you let someone live rent-free in your head and heart, remember – only YOU will be paying the painful price. Should you be struggling to let of hurt, anger, pain and hatred, contact us at PsychMatters on 0114503576 to assist you to live more masterfully and positively.

How Hate Works

If you’re a heavy metal fan, you’ve probably heard the Iron Maiden song “There’s a Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” As it turns out, those lyrics have a grain of truth in them, at least in a neurological sense.

In 2008, scientists at University College London in the U.K. published a study in which they included 17 subjects who’d expressed a strong hatred for another person — typically, an ex-lover or a colleague. When the subjects’ brains were mapped with an MRI scanner while they looked at pictures of the people they hated, activity was observed the putamen and insular cortex — two brain regions that also light up when a person sees a picture of a loved one .


The involvement of the putamen in both emotions is particularly revealing, because that part of the brain also prepares the body for movement. Scientists hypothesize that this area goes into action with the aim of providing protection to a loved one — to prepare for an aggressive or spiteful act from a hated person .

But the researchers also spotted a key difference between the two emotions. When a person sees another person he or she loves, the areas of the frontal cortex associated with judgment and critical thinking typically become less active than normal. But when subjects saw someone they hated, most of the frontal cortex remained active. In fact, the researchers found that when they compared the brain scans to answers that subjects had given on a questionnaire, the more intensively a person said that he or she hated another person, the more energetically the subject’s frontal cortex lit up at the sight of the person. So here’s the upshot: Hating someone isn’t just a knee-jerk emotional reaction. It also involves a certain amount of reasoning and rumination .

Hate involves both the interior, primitive parts of the brain and the parts that developed relatively late in human evolution. So our capacity for intense dislike of others of our species may date back as far as 150,000 years, when the first modern humans emerged . Why hate developed is a murkier question. There’s some evidence that humans’ ability to hate may actually be an evolutionary adaptation, one that made it easier for a group of hunter-gatherers to justify taking scarce food from competing groups .

But even after humans developed agriculture and organized themselves into civilizations, that venomous urge persisted. We’ll look at hate’s history on the next page.

Scientists have spotted the parts of the brain that light up when we actively hate someone. There’s probably a reason why hate evolved in the first place — and it’s similar to love.

The Hate Study

In 2008, two scientists decided to launch a study to investigate whether the emotion of hatred was rooted in some consistent biology. Their first problem, in framing this study, was narrowing down the vast menagerie of different kinds of hatred. They decided that they’d begin their study by asking one human to hate another human. Even then, they knew that their request wasn’t all that specific. As the scientists, Semir Zeki and John Paul Romaya, wrote in the study itself, “Hatred against an individual may be seemingly irrational and rooted in remote anthropological instincts. Hate based on race or religion would probably fall under this heading. On the other hand, an individual may trace the hatred to a past injustice and hence find a justifiable source for it. There are no doubt many other ways in which the sentiment can be sub-categorized.”


Still, they hoped that by confining the study of hatred to the hatred of an individual, they might see a consistent pattern. They asked subjects to stare first at the picture of a person the subjects had neutral feelings toward, and then at the picture of someone they hated. The subjects did this while hooked up to an MRI, allowing the researchers to see which parts of the brain were activated and deactivated. Doctors Zeki and Romaya were gratified to find that everyone in the study hated individuals the same way. The parts of the brain activated, the medial frontal gyrus, the right putamen, the medial insula, and the premotor cortex, have come to be known as the “hate circuit.”

The premotor cortex is one part of the brain that springs into action when people have feelings of aggression. When we hate, at least part of us is preparing for a physical attack. The frontal gyrus deals with self-awareness, and is involved in go/no go decisions. This part of the brain seems to be in league, however tentatively with the premotor cortex. Haters using the “hate circuit,” then, seem to always be wondering if it’s the right time to move against the object of their hatred.

Hate, Love, and Judgement

The putamen and the insula make the hate circuit more interesting. Both of these areas light up on an MRI when the person being probed is experiencing feelings of romantic love. The researchers think this may be why people so often pair love and hatred, two seemingly antithetical emotions.


It may be more complicated than that. The putamen gets engaged when people are in love, but it also activates when people feel contempt or disgust. Damage to the putamen and the insula can make people incapable of recognizing disgust on other people’s faces. The putamen also lights up when a person is planning aggressive acts. The putamen, then, might represent the dark side of love – the side that attacks a rival, or feels sick with jealousy at a loved one’s behavior.


Hate is characterized not just by areas of brain activity but by areas of brain inactivity. The superior frontal gyrus is correlated with self-awareness and laughter, so it’s not surprising that it’s repressed when a person hates. The particular section that is deactivated, the researchers note, is near a section of the brain which, when repressed, seems to increase obsessive-compulsive behavior. When we hate, we fail to laugh, and we may get a bit obsessive.

Areas escaping deactivation include the areas of the brain that deal out judgment. This is one of the major ways that the hate circuit differs from the brain activity of a person in love. When we love someone, we shut off the part of our brain that judges – a trait that, we hope, has led to more happiness than sorrow. When we hate someone, we leave the judgment part of our brain a’blazing.


Did We Evolve to Hate Each Other?

There’s a theory which holds that hatred evolved so that one group of hunter-gatherers wouldn’t feel so bad about stealing resources from another group of hunter-gatherers. In other words, we hate because hate sometimes keeps us alive. It’s a decent theory, but it makes hatred an extremely recent phenomenon, and one exclusive to humanity.


Scientists, historically, have been very reluctant to ascribe emotions to animals. The traditional behaviorist view is to only admit the most basic emotion that’s able to explain an animal’s behavior. Animals’ emotions, for some time, were described primarily as fear, aggression, and sexual impulses. Recently animals’ allotment of emotions has expanded. Multiple researchers and animal rights advocates have published books insisting that animals can show compassion, gratitude, humor, grief, and even love. Still, when it comes to negative emotions, researchers stay basic. Animals display “aggression,” or “rage.” They don’t hate each other.


Animals do quite a few things that seem to amount to hatred. Birds have such intense family squabbles that they regularly engage in “sibilicide.” A baboon troop in Kenya waited for three days by the side of a road after one of their own had been killed by a car. When the driver came down the road again, the troop pelted him with rocks. One captive chimp delighted in throwing its feces at a researcher. When the researcher came by just after the chimp’s cage had been cleaned, and laughed about how he got to have a poop-free day, the chimp made itself throw up, and threw the puke at the researcher.

Not pleasant, but is it hate? Perhaps the major problem is semantics. How, exactly, is hatred different from anger or rage or the desire for justice after an unjust act has been committed? Charles Darwin tackled the subject back in 1872, with his book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. He describes hatred as an intense form of dislike, which is fair enough, but which later researchers take issue with. Even after defining hatred, Darwin shies away from it. He deals more with anger in humans and animals – describing fast heartbeats and flushed faces.


Humans can fall back on the old “we know it when we feel it” argument. No matter how nebulous the definition of the emotion, humans can say that they hate each other. Animals cannot. Will there be a time when we can describe, observe, or test for, hatred in animals? And if we can’t find any evidence of it, what does that say about us?

Zebra Image: William Warby


Have you ever hated your partner?

You are not alone: It turns out that almost all of us have times when we strongly dislike the people we love the most—although some of us may not even realize it.

In a series of studies, Vivian Zayas and Yuichi Shoda found that people don’t just love or hate significant others. They love and hate them—and that’s normal. The key to getting through the inevitable hard times, as my own research suggests, is to never stop trying to understand where your partner is coming from.

Love is complicated, isn’t it?

How did Zayas and Shoda find the hate in the midst of love? They asked study participants to think of a significant other they like very much. Then, the participants reported on their positive and negative feelings toward that person. Unsurprisingly, people reported highly positive feelings and very low negative feelings toward the person they had chosen.

But then the researchers assessed implicit feelings—the emotions they might not be consciously aware of—about the significant other. How? Participants did a standard computer task that measures how quickly they respond to certain directions. They’d see the name of their significant other pop up on the computer screen, which was then was quickly followed by a target word that was either positive (e.g., lucky, kitten) or negative (e.g., garbage, cancer). Their job was to categorize the target words as positive or negative as quickly as possible by pushing the correct button.

That’s when the bad feelings came out.

Here’s how our brains work, as revealed by decades of psychological research: If we are thinking about something pleasant when a positive word pops up, we are quicker to categorize it as positive; but when a negative word pops up, we are slower to put it in the negative category. Likewise, if we are thinking about something unpleasant, we will be slower to categorize positive words and quicker for negative ones.

This task allows researchers to actually quantify people’s feelings towards their significant others, by calculating how quickly they respond to positive words and negative words after seeing their significant other’s name.

Still with me? Great, because here is where it gets interesting. Take a look at the graph below. The bars on the right show that, as expected, participants were quicker to categorize positive words after seeing their significant other’s name. But they were also quicker to categorize negative words. Not just not slower—actually quicker!

Zayas & Shoda (2015)

The effect for positive words was larger, but there was a small effect showing that thinking about their significant others actually boosted people’s responses when categorizing negative words like garbage and cancer. These were significant others toward whom participants reported feeling very positively and not very negatively, yet these findings show that at an implicit level, people hold both positive and negative feelings toward the ones they love.

(Note: The bars on the left side of the graph show the typical response using positive and negative objects, such as sunsets and spiders, where positive objects only affect positive target words and negative objects only affect negative target words.)

Thus, people feel both positively and negatively toward those they love. This may not surprise you. Those closest to us, such as our romantic partners, invoke strong feelings on both ends of the spectrum—some days, thoughts of our romantic partners may leave us awash with love and admiration; other days, we may feel dislike or even repulsion.

It’s a thin line

What these findings suggest to me is that this love/hate dynamic is a normal part of close relationships. Feeling negatively towards your partner does not mean that you are doing something wrong or that you are in the wrong relationship. It seems hating your partner in the moment does not mean that you don’t also love them a lot—which is actually a bit of a revelation (and a relief).

Why does this study matter? Much of our relationship rhetoric focuses on positive and negative as two ends of a spectrum—feeling more positively toward your partner means you feel less negatively toward them, and vice versa.

While that may be true in one particular moment, it isn’t representative of the complex nature of your relationship overall—or even in one day! Our feelings toward our partners can range wildly from moment to moment—and it seems that may just be part of the wild ride of sharing your life with another complex human being. So, despite the overwhelmingly positive pictures posted on social media of all your friends’ happy relationships, know that you’re only seeing, at best, half the story.

There’s another finding worth highlighting from the Zayas and Shoda study. They also looked at people’s implicit feelings toward significant others that they reported disliking a lot. These were disliked people who played an important role in their life, such as exes or estranged parents.

When shown these significant others’ names, people were quicker to categorize negative words, as expected. But they were also quicker to categorize positive words, suggesting that feelings toward loathed significant others aren’t so set in stone either. Instead, it seems we hold some positive views of these significant others, even as we profess our dislike of them—even if we may not be able to admit it at a conscious level.

Not all bad feeling is bad for you

Of course, there is such a thing as too much hate. Relationships don’t need to be all positive all the time to be happy and healthy, but having too much negativity can be harmful. Instead, the key seems to be having a high enough ratio of positive to negative experiences.

Researcher John Gottman found that stable, happy couples had about five times more positivity than negativity during conflict conversations. On the other hand, couples who were heading towards divorce had a ratio more like 0.8:1. That is, way more negative than positive. While some negative emotions should be avoided at all costs, other negative emotions—such as guilt or sadness—when experienced in the appropriate setting, may be adaptive and help us change for the better.

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For example, feeling guilty when you’ve done something wrong can help you correct your behavior in the future and make the proper amends. Feeling sad about growing apart from a good friend may help you realize you still care about that relationship. In relationships, conflict can help you negate bad patterns and work through issues.

In addition, it seems to me that the good is not as good if you aren’t occasionally contrasting it with something bad. We need some emotional variety—feeling good all the time might just get boring! Moreover, people who are forcing themselves to feel positively all the time when it isn’t genuine may not reap the same benefits as those who are experiencing genuine positive emotions.

Seven ways to make love stronger than hate

So how do you keep that love/hate ratio positive? The key is understanding—as opposed to avoiding conflict or suppressing bad feelings that are perfectly normal.

Along with my colleague Serena Chen, I ran seven different studies of couples, conflict, and relationship satisfaction. And I found in all of those studies that people felt less satisfied when they didn’t feel understood after conflicts with their partner. But when they came out of conflict feeling understood, there was no negative impact on relationship satisfaction.

We got these results in a number of different ways. People who reported fighting frequently—but who at the same time felt understood by their partners—were no less satisfied with their relationships than people who rarely fight. People who remembered a past conflict in which they felt understood were no less satisfied than those in a control group; those who did not feel understood showed negative effects. People who reported on their conflicts every day for two weeks were equally satisfied on both days when they fought and days when they didn’t—if they felt understood.

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In our laboratory study, couples talked about a source of conflict in their relationship. People who felt understood during the conflict conversation felt more satisfied after the discussion than when they’d first arrived in the lab. If they didn’t feel understood, they were less satisfied.

In other words, relationships can survive conflict and bad feelings if partners never stop feeling seen by the other.

Is it just that people are better able to find a solution to their problem if they understand each other? Understanding does aid in conflict resolution, but it turns out that understanding can even help those fights that will never be resolved. Those issues may stem from political, religious, or personality differences, or maybe just different movie preferences.

Whatever their source, understanding can help for those fights, too. In fact, understanding may be most important when you face issues that cannot be easily resolved, such as different religious or political views. In these situations, understanding allows you to “agree to disagree” when no amount of fighting is going to change your minds.

What is it about feeling understood that helps alleviate those negative feelings that typically arise after conflict? We found that when you feel understood, it signals to you that your partner cares about you and is invested in the relationship. It also makes you feel like your relationship is strong and worth fighting for. And in the end, feeling understood, especially when your partner has a different opinion than you, just feels good, plain and simple.

So how do you increase understanding during conflict? Here are seven suggestions for how to think and act to do so.

  1. Instead of asserting your own point of view, try to take your partner’s perspective. Make it your goal to understand why your partner feels the way they do.
  2. Avoid the four horsemen of the apocalypse—criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.
  3. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Assume that their intentions are not malicious.
  4. Take a moment to reflect on your partner’s positive traits. You can even try some gratitude-inducing techniques.
  5. Think of you and your partner as a team, rather than opponents. Your goal is to figure out together why you do not see eye-to-eye and find a solution; it is not to win the fight and prove your partner wrong.
  6. Recognize that it won’t always be easy to follow these suggestions, especially if your partner isn’t playing by the same rules.
  7. Give yourself a mantra to repeat when you start feeling angry to help you remember your goal—even something as simple as “be understanding.”

This article was revised and synthesized from several pieces originally published on Amie Gordon’s Psychology Today blog.

The Incompetent Heart: Why People Love to Hate You

Why we see others as enemies, not people.

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”

— Socrates

The news roller coaster is hurting me.

My emotions are up and down — the wild ride is anything but fun.

Politicians are supposed to commit their best efforts for the public good, not to be fighting against each other. Books are meant to inspire readers, not to sink someone. Similarly, book reviews should help us understand what’s in it for us, not encouraging we bash the author.

We must call out lousy conduct from leaders, not play their game. By taking sides, we are not just legitimizing attacks and divisive behaviors; we are also fueling hate.

The worst part is not that hating others is normal; it has become socially acceptable too.

I’m not taking a moral stand here. I’m far from being perfect. This post is a personal reflection — I’m inviting you to join me.

On the social media stage, looking right seems the only thing that matters. Rather than using our emotions and intellect to do what’s best, we focus on proving others wrong — those who think differently become our enemies.

The primitive skill to separate friends from foes is an essential survival strategy.

However, that instinct made sense in a primitive age where the world was threatening and unknown. It feels irrational that — after centuries of breakthroughs and improvements in medicine, education, technology, and food, to name a few — we still feel under constant attack.

We are emotionally incompetent — that’s why we love to hate others.

It’s hard to believe that we are in the 21st Century — we behave as if the world was still unsafe and dangerous.

Many people are not using their voices to make things better. They express their opinions simply to hurt others; to silence opposite thoughts. The hatred that we see daily on Social Media, the news, or water cooler conversations, is doing us no good as a society.

Our hearts have become completely incompetent — hate has taken over our emotions.

Hate Is Personal; What Causes Anger Is Not

“In time we hate that which we often fear.”
― William Shakespeare

Hating others is an easy way out.

Hate is a self-defense mechanism. When under attack, the ability to quickly separate foes from friends was essential to survive. However, most of our current threats are perceptions, not real ones — we create the fight.

When things don’t go well, we play the blame game — we look for a scapegoat. We like always to be right and feel safe. We embrace hate as a way to protect our self-esteem or to defend our community’s interests or beliefs.

Hate is personal for the attacker, don’t take it personally.

Hate is in the eye of the giver, not on the receiver. People hate what they don’t understand. They reject those who think or look differently. People hate others because of what they reflect about them too.

When someone attacks you, avoid getting into a useless battle.

No one wins the war of hatred war. Regardless if someone is passionate and committed to attacking you. Don’t get caught into that tactic. You need two sides to start a war.

Avoidance is a powerful response.

You might not be able to disarm your attacker. But haters love to be hated back —they will soon find another enemy that likes to play their game.

Your Heart Was Programmed to Hate Others

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

Inherently we are full of goodness.

This sounds hard for many people to digest. But our true essence, as human beings, is to be and do good.

Buddhist psychologist Chögyam Trungpa, author of The Sanity we are born with, says: “Delight in itself is the approach of sanity. Delight is to open our eyes to the reality of the situation rather than siding with this or that point of view.”

When we can observe other points of view without judging, there’s no need to hate. Being different doesn’t mean better or worse; different is just different.

The Internet has empowered us to collaborate, share insights, teach, and support others. We can access content for free: books, pictures, recipes, how-to videos, etc. That’s the magic of human generosity. Perfect proof that our intrinsic nature is good.

Hatred was part of our society ‘software’ update — it came by default; you don’t need to accept that upgrade.

People hate other political parties or religions because their ideology is the truth. They reject other races or ethnic groups because their bodies are superior. People hate an article because they know better.

However, those are just beliefs; not objective truths. Our beliefs blind us — that’s why we hate others.

Hate makes people feel cool; it gives them authority and power.

Take racism, for example. It’s not natural; it’s an artificial concept that was wired into our brains and hearts. This in-depth National Geographic article sheds light on how science created a racial hierarchy. Studies performed by Dr. Samuel Morton wrongfully concluded, by studying skulls from various ethnic groups, that some races were superior to others.

The scientist believed that “Caucasians” were the most intelligent of the races. East Asians — he used the term “Mongolian” — though “ingenious” and “susceptible of cultivation,” were one step down. Blacks, or “Ethiopians,” were at the bottom. In the decades before the American Civil War, his ideas were used to justify slavery.

The Homo Sapiens species evolved in Africa. Modern genetic research has shown that all humans are closely related. We all have the same collection of genes, but slightly different versions of some of them. As the article points out: all people alive today are Africans.

Race has nothing to do with how brains perform. However, we were wired to establish hierarchies.

Rather than taking people for who they are; we judge them by the group they belong to.

Hating someone is personal; the reasons that fuel hate are mostly social. Someone persuade us to see others as enemies. Leaders know how to play the paranoia card — they find an external enemy to bring their supporters together.

Having a common enemy is what makes hatred personal — we turn life into a ‘them’ versus ‘us’ experience.

We’ve been taught that the best defense is to attack. That’s why people love to hate others. They think that destroying someone else’s reputation first would score them a huge victory.

When things get personal, we let our irrationality take over.

Pause and think; is the enemy for real?

Don’t let “mass thinking” cloud your judgment. Avoid being a prey of the “You are either with us or against us” approach. Those who put you in that situation don’t want you to think; you are just a number — they want to add you to their support base.

Don’t Play the Hate Game

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
— Booker T. Washington

Hating others is a personal decision.

People are intolerant and expect you to behave the same way. It took me decades to realize my own intolerance. That was a turning point to stop “hating” what I didn’t understand or like. Now I can focus on becoming more acceptant of others.

We are wired to see others as enemies, not people.

Writing frequently has exposed me to great people, but I’ve been the target of a lot of intolerance and hatred too. I had to develop a thicker skin than I already had.

I love getting feedback from my readers — not just kind words, but being challenged so I can improve as a person. However, I find it a waste of time to interact with those who are merely looking for a fight.

I wrote a post about freedom, that created a lot of controversies. I said that freedom requires self-regulation too — we are free to speak, but that doesn’t mean we should attack others because they don’t share our beliefs. Some people fired back — they said I was encouraging dictators. ;(

I use people’s reactions to self-reflect.

If I feel criticized or don’t understand my message: “What vulnerabilities are being exposed?”, “Why do I feel criticized?” “Are my words confusing?” I challenge my thinking and do additional research.

Reacting is easy; reflection requires courage.

We all have emotions, but that doesn’t mean that we need to let them drive our behaviors. Becoming emotionally competent requires to tame your mind — to look at your emotions, not through them

The Hierarchies of Hate

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.“ — Epictetus

Today threats are psychological rather than physical. We need to correct our thinking, so we don’t apply the same primitive impulse to destroy our “enemy.” Considering evidence — not perception — can help correct your thinking.

Empathy and reflection are critical to avoid feeding your self-preservation mechanism. Most “attacks” are provocations, not real danger.

The problem with hatred is that it quickly escalates. What starts as mere intolerance or a cultural bias could quickly become something more alarming.

The Pyramid of Hate is a powerful exercise that many organizations use to drive awareness — small intolerance acts can turn into dangerous ones. At work, in our families or society, we need to call out these behaviors before they go out of hands.

First Level: Bias

The base of the pyramid is when our prejudice is expressed through jokes, criticism, and other expressions of our bias. It feels ‘harmless’ but quickly moves to the next level.

Second Level: Individual Acts of Prejudice

This level manifests through acts that start affecting the other person. It includes avoiding those that we hate. Scapegoating, ridiculing, and social avoidance — prejudice turns into rejection.

Third Level: Discrimination

The middle of the pyramid involves intentional discrimination. We limit possibilities to those we hate. From a job promotion to housing opportunities, these types of behaviors are punished by law — they go beyond our freedom of speech.

Discrimination is not about the specific person — it punishes those who belong to a particular group that is hated by the discriminator.

Fourth Level: Bias-Motivated Violence

This level is when discrimination becomes a social movement. Masses — most of the times encouraged by leaders — attack properties, holy places, or groups. It can even include murder and terrorist acts.

When a society gets to Level Four, things are getting out of hand. That’s the danger of letting hate become something normal. We won’t see the broader consequences coming until it’s too late.

Fifth Level: Genocide

Genocide, as defined by the United Nations in 1948, means acts committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. It includes both physical and mental harm.

How to Build Emotional Competency

“Experience is not what happens to you — it’s how you interpret what happens to you. “ — Aldous Huxley

Emotional Competence is mastering how we communicate or release our inner-feelings — it determines our ability to effectively and successfully lead and express.

Here are some tips for you to avoid hate taking over your life.

Be aware of your emotions: Can you discuss feelings without getting into an argument? Apply empathy to understand how others feel, even if it doesn’t make any sense to you.

Mind your words: We’ve incorporated the word “hate” as part of our regular vocabulary. When someone hurts your feelings, avoid using the word “hate.” Reframe it in the form of “I don’t like that you did X to me.” Even if you are just talking to yourself, it will switch your speech from “defensive” to “reflective.”

Practice adaptability: Try seeing the world through other people’s beliefs. I’m not saying change yours; simply understand why other people think differently (even if they are “attacking” you). Let go of your beliefs; experiment conceding something to your opponent. When there’s no difference, there’s no point fighting.

Avoid power struggles: Let go of having to make your point. Sometimes, it’s better to be human than to be right, as I wrote here. When you fight back, you are mimicking your aggressor’s behavior. Provocation is not a war declaration; retaliation is.

Accept the differences: Tolerance is a two-way street. If you want people to respect your beliefs and thinking, you have to abide by the same rules. It’s easy to ask for understanding, but appreciating other’s points of views requires courage.

Embrace forgiveness: I know I’m getting myself into trouble again. I suggested this in a previous post about not playing the victim. Some people wrote back furious: “What if I’m a real victim?”

My answer was: many people have been through life-threatening situations, and yet when they overcame those, they were able to pardon their perpetrators. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example.

Eva Kor, an Auschwitz survivor, is a clear testament to that mindset too. “I want everybody to remember that we cannot change what happened, that is a tragic part, but we can change how we relate to it.” — she said after meeting with one of her perpetrators many decades later.

Let’s stop seeing other people as enemies.

The world benefits from diversity. If we all look, think, believe, feel, and act the same, the world would be boring. Understanding, tolerance, and self-awareness are critical to moving from a defensive to an acceptive mode.

It’s not easy. Being tolerant is one of our most significant challenges as human beings. It starts by accepting our uniqueness so we can allow others to be true to themselves too.

Learn to find beauty in what looks different. This age and time require maturity and reasoning, not fight-or-flight responses. As Elvis Presley said: “Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.”

Additional Resources

The Hate Pyramid — intro video.

The Tolerance Project — core values to increase tolerance.

The Seven-Stage Hate model — From “individual hate” to “collective aggression.”

When Hatred Is a Good Thing​—a Protection

A MIDDLE-AGED mother in the supermarket slipped a can of anchovies into her purse without paying for it. At the same time her husband across the street dropped a slug into a parking meter, where it registered as a dime. Their daughter that day got off work early after lying about being sick. What do you think of acts such as these? Do you view them as clever or do you hate them?

These things may seem petty, but are they? Oceans are made of drops of water. A small spark can set a forest afire. Small wrongs often lead to big disasters. Jesus Christ said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” (Luke 16:10) So wrong acts, even though small, should not be excused but viewed with serious concern, because they are evidence of moral weakness.

People, no doubt, become more aware of the evils of wrongdoing when the act, little or big, is committed against themselves. Then it hurts. The pain becomes real. If the mother with the anchovies returned home to find her television set stolen, if the father caught someone trying to shortchange him, or if the daughter’s fiancé feigned sickness so as to go out with another girl, doubtless these people would find such acts offensive and would raise a cry of protest. The difference, of course, is that they themselves would be the victims.

When we hear of the bad done in the world​—the lying, the frauds, the robberies, the acts of fornication and adultery, the brutality and killings—​it helps us to get the right viewpoint if we realize that we or our loved ones might have been the victims. And if a person feels tempted to do wrong, he does well to ask himself how he would feel if that same wrong were committed against himself or members of his family.

Such an approach will cause one to understand and appreciate better why God commands: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” Also why the apostle Paul urged: “Abhor what is wicked.” And why the psalmist said: “I have hated every false path. Falsehood I have hated, and I do keep detesting it.” (Ps. 97:10; Rom. 12:9; Ps. 119:104, 163) Do you feel as the apostle and the psalmist did about badness? Do you hate what is bad?


This word “hate” has several shades of meaning. It may denote intense hostility, sustained ill will often accompanied by malice, that impels one to bring harm to the hated object. This is a wrong kind of hatred. It has a bad motive. It is born of the Devil, often is nurtured in a confused and frustrated mind, and is invariably misdirected. The whole history of men and nations under the Devil’s control has been practically a continuous account of violent bloodspilling hatred. Sometimes only a few individuals are involved. At other times anarchy and revolution engulf a whole nation. Frequently the hatred bred by international wars blots out the lives of thousands of innocent ones.

“Hate” may also signify a strong dislike, but without any intent to bring harm to the object, seeking instead to avoid it as when one loathes something distasteful. This kind of hate is good if directed against that which is bad.

This right kind of hatred is in imitation of Jehovah, the God of righteousness. He does not hate what is bad because of frustration nor does he manifest his hate in uncontrolled, intemperate, violent actions. God’s hatred of what is bad is a principled hatred. Such hatred does not disturb one’s peace of mind and afflict one with ulcers. It is a strong dislike, an extreme aversion, a pronounced distaste, a profound repugnance of what is bad. It means to loathe, to abhor, to abominate whatever is bad because it is wrong, very harmful and wholly unloving.​—Prov. 6:16-19.


First of all, Jehovah hates what is bad. That in itself should be reason enough for any of us also to hate what is bad. If a loving, very wise father refuses to eat poisonous mushrooms, this should be sufficient reason for his little boy also to loathe them. And if the father forbids the boy to eat them, then this is a double reason why an obedient boy who loves his father will despise them as food. To the boy it is not just a matter of hating the consequences of getting sick if he disobeys his father. Rather, his obedience springs from a heartfelt love for his father.

A secondary, yet very important reason for hating what is wrong has to do with the resulting consequences. Says the proverb: “A bad person will not go unpunished.” (Prov. 11:21) Men and women before the flood of Noah’s day did not escape the consequences of doing what was bad; only the eight who hated what was bad survived. (Gen. 6:5-7; 7:1) A more modern example is the experience of the men who engineered England’s greatest train robbery, making away with some $7,300,000. Later, they were all caught and imprisoned. If these men had hated the bad, as God’s Word commands, they would have saved themselves many miserable prison years.​—Time, October 31, 1969.


The God-given counsel to hate what is bad was never more needed than it is today. Satan and his demons, knowing that their time is short, are doing all they possibly can to corrupt and destroy the human race. They use selfish, greedy men to exploit the weaknesses and sinful tendencies of their fellow humans. Truly we are living in “critical times hard to deal with,” when ‘because of the increase of lawlessness the love of the greater number has cooled off.’ To protect yourself from these conditions you must hate what is bad.​—2 Tim. 3:1; Matt. 24:12; Rev. 12:12.

Unless we are strongly opposed to bad, we may be won over by it. Because we are born sinners, our inclination is toward bad. (Ps. 51:5; Gen. 8:21; Rom. 7:14-25) That is why it is not enough just to love what is good; we must also hate what is bad. Jesus Christ ‘loved righteousness and hated wickedness.’ (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9) We must do the same to survive this evil system of things.

There is no neutral middle ground of indifference in this matter. The principle that Jesus stated applies here: “He that is not on my side is against me.” (Matt. 12:30) Jesus Was not indifferent, but actively and uncompromisingly took his stand as a hater of what was bad. If you are not with him in a similar hatred of the wrong you are against him by being a lover of the bad.

Put yourself to the test: Are your standards those of this old world or are yours the Christian standards as set forth in the Bible? The worldly standards say in substance: “You must not steal​—much.” “You must not lie​—unless you are in a jam.” “You must not commit adultery​—except when you are in ‘love.’” Or sometimes worldlings make their law read: “You must not get caught stealing, lying, committing adultery, etc.” Are these your standards? Certainly they are not those of God, Christ Jesus or of true Christians, all of whom hate what is wrong.

What about your standard of morality? Do you go along with those who advocate new, popular standards with convenient escape clauses added? These people will say, “I’m honest​—up to a point.” “I’m truthful​—a good part of the time.” “You can trust me​—if you keep an eye on me.” “I’d never rob a bank, because it’s too dangerous.” “The Bible’s Ten Commandments are great, for the other fellow.”


There are many things that Jehovah hates and which he tells those loving him to hate. To follow through on this divine counsel is beneficial in many respects, one of which is the protection it affords the person obeying. Consider a few examples.

In their illicit sex relations many persons have experienced the fear of unwanted pregnancy, the dread of disease, the threat of abandonment and heartbreak, and the erosion of self-respect. A twenty-two-year-old girl said: ‘I wanted nothing more in the world than to marry him. But when I became pregnant, he abandoned me.’ Had she heeded the wise counsel of God’s Word and hated what is bad, her life would have been altogether different.

A wife said that she “very nearly lost her home, her sanity and everything in life that matters” by engaging in “wife swapping.” “Our foolishness had cost more than we had planned to pay,” she said. “My blood runs cold when I think how close we came to destroying ourselves for a few cheap thrills.” God’s Word protects persons from such miseries, if they will heed the warning and hate what is bad.

Graphically the Bible warns of the result of sexual immorality when it describes the foolish young man that is enticed to have relations with a prostitute: “All of a sudden he is going after her, like a bull that comes even to the slaughter, . . . just as a bird hastens into the trap, and he has not known that it involves his very soul.” (Prov. 7:22, 23) Every year thousands are caught in this “sex trap” and are figuratively led away like animals to the slaughter, pierced through with venereal diseases​—all because they spurned the protection that hating the bad would have afforded them.

Drunkenness is a killer. A report from England says that it is responsible for over a third of all fatal car accidents. And yet the remedy is simpler and less costly than safety belts. If these drunkards applied the wisdom of the Bible, hating the bad thing, thousands of tragic deaths could be avoided. Those having woe, uneasiness, contentions, concern, dull eyes, the Bible says, are “those staying a long time with the wine . . . At its end it bites just like a serpent.”​—Prov. 23:29-32.

It is good to hate crime and violence, adultery, drunkenness and homosexuality for what they are. Crime robs people of what is rightfully theirs. It is to be loathed. Adultery breaks up families, deprives children of care. It is a sin against God and man and deserving of our deepest hatred. Drunkenness endangers people and also ruins lives. It should be abhorred. Homosexuality is a perversion of the lowest sort. It is detested by God. (Rom. 1:24-27) If you hate such bad things, this is good and for your protection.

But what about those things termed “petty crimes,” like the stealing of the anchovies, cheating the parking meter, or lying to the boss? While such bad things may have a certain appeal, or may seem to do no one any great harm, still sooner or later they too will exact undesirable penalties​—guilty consciences, shame and reproach, and estrangement from true friends. If you hate these things too, not because of the penalties, but because Jehovah hates them, this too will be for your protection.


You can do this by keeping far from what is bad. What you abhor, you avoid. You must therefore first know what is bad before you can avoid it. But in this regard you are well equipped, for Jehovah in his Word sets out in great detail what is bad, and often tells us how to avoid it. Study of the Bible is absolutely essential to know how and what to hate.

So it is that enlightened Christians rightly hate those who are confirmed enemies of God, such as the Devil and his demons, as well as men who have deliberately and knowingly taken their stand against Jehovah. (Ps. 139:21, 22) This hatred of such individuals does not seek to inflict injury on them and is not synonymous with spite or malice. Rather, it finds expression in its utter abhorrence and avoidance of those intensely hating Jehovah. You must avoid the “table of demons” if you hope to eat at Jehovah’s table.​—1 Cor. 10:21; Rom. 12:9, 17, 19.

Some people may appear to be “nice people,” but one must ask: “Do they have Christian morals and principles? Do they love Jehovah?” Their love of God and neighbor should determine what our relationship with them will be. This matter of association is important, for if we enjoy being with those who do bad things we will soon cease hating what they do.​—1 Cor. 15:33.

Positive thinking, of course, is very important. It is not merely a matter of negatively hating badness; a positive love of goodness is also necessary. Hence, the formula for hating what is bad is twofold, as the apostle Paul so concisely puts it: “Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9) Show that you hate wickedness by filling the mind with good thoughts. (Phil. 4:8) Also, fill the heart with good motivations, instead of storing up in it the desires to do bad.​—Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Prov. 4:23.

Do you hate what is bad? God’s Word urges you to do so. And it is the right, the wise and the loving thing to do. Show, then, that you hate what is bad and love what is good by your choice of associates, by what you think about, what you talk about, and by how you act.


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.

Last Updated: 05-13-2019

It’s hard to outdo Medea for raw hatred. Thrown over by her husband Jason for another woman, the mythic sorceress takes revenge by poisoning her rival and, just for good measure, her rival’s father. Then, just to make sure that Jason comprehends the enormity of her wrath, she murders their two sons in cold blood.

Now that’s hate—and probably a lot of other emotions as well, including jealousy and humiliation and anger and disgust. Scientists and poets have long been fascinated by intense, negative emotions such as Medea’s, but surprisingly there is no overarching theory of hatred. Who hates whom, and why? What do we mean when we say, I hate? And what do we do about it?

Two psychological scientists have decided that the best way to approach hatred is to ask average people. What are our ordinary, common sense definitions of this extreme emotion? To plumb our “naïve psychologies” of hate, Katherine Aumer of Hawai’i Pacific University and Elaine Hatfield of the University of Hawaii at Manoa put together an elaborate survey comprising these basic unanswered questions. Here is a summary of their most notable findings, followed by some intriguing tidbits, as described by Aumer at the convention of the Association for Psychological Science, in San Francisco this week:

We mostly hate people we know, and in fact rarely direct that intense emotion at anyone we’re unacquainted with. The main reasons we hate people include betrayal—including infidelity but also broken promises of other sorts—and intense aversion to others’ personalities. The best way to deal with hatred seems to be communication—either with the hated person directly, or with a friend or higher power. Finally, age and gender do influence hatred—how we experience the emotion and whom we target. Here’s some more detail:

  • People first experience hate at about age 12, roughly their age during middle school. The age range is wide for initiation into hatred, from a perplexing six months to 40 years of age.
  • Interestingly, when asked what they mean by hate, people rely on other emotions: extreme dislike, extreme disgust, and extreme anger.
  • Ex-husbands are among the most hated, especially for women between 28 and 32 years of age. Also in that elite company are co-workers. Far more women than men name “a friend” as the most hated person in their lives.
  • We hate those we love—or loved. People expressed the most ill will toward those they are closest to on a daily basis—acquaintances, friends, family, exes. Even within the family, the “nearest and dearest” arouse the most hatred—fathers especially, followed by mothers, in-laws, sibs. Curiously, very few hate their own significant others—just 1 in 100—but far more hate a friend’s boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • The good news is that hatred is uncommon. Over a lifetime, people say they hate about five people on average. Men are more likely to report feeling hate as they get older, peaking in the late 30s and then declining until the late 50s. But most of us don’t experience hate on a regular basis. Indeed, most people say they never feel hatred at all.
  • Intriguingly, despite the orgies of torture and murder we witness every day, people rarely mention political concerns when asked about their own animosities. Hate, it seems, is intensely personal—as the mythic Medea would testify

Follow Wray Herbert’s reporting on the 26th annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science in the Huffington Post and on Twitter at @wrayherbert.

The Effects of Hate

Evidence of Potential Outcomes or Longer-Term Effects

Experiencing incidents of hate can cause trauma. The impact of trauma can also manifest in various forms of behavior and mood changes.

Some incidents in the CAH database note that the impacted individual experiences a change in behavior and/or participation, a deterioration of their emotional and/or physical health, and a change in their performance at work or school. The database shows changes in behavior because the hate incidents tend to cluster around several courses of action including increasing security (purchasing security cameras, fences, extra locks, or motion-sensor light) around respondents’ homes, preventing children from playing outside, being more aware or fearful of one’s surroundings when out on the street, changing one’s actions while outside, or relocating. In the Hate Incidence Poll, 15 percent confirmed that some experience a desire to change behavior to prevent future incidents. An example of this behavior appears in the CAH database. A report to the CAH database reads that a woman who owns a salon received repeated threatening, racist letters as well as vandalism to her business. She reinforced the security of the premises, stating “Those locks are on that door because I’m scared. I am. I don’t know what is going to happen next.” Additionally, some parents in the CAH database whose homes have been impacted prevent their children from playing outside. An individual reported that their neighbor repeatedly threatened them with a pellet gun or hurled racist slurs. The parents grew afraid of what the neighbor might do and said, “They were afraid to allow their sons to play in the yard, and felt helpless to protect them.”

Figure 6a. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total across all respondentsFigures 6a-6d reflect responses from the following question in the Hate Incidence Poll:

  • Q61. What would you say was the outcome of the hate-related incidents you have experienced? What were the short-term or long-term effects?

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Figure 6b. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Black respondents

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Figure 6c. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Hispanic respondents

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Figure 6d. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Arab / Middle Eastern respondents

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Figure 6a. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total across all respondentsFigures 6a-6d reflect responses from the following question in the Hate Incidence Poll:

  • Q61. What would you say was the outcome of the hate-related incidents you have experienced? What were the short-term or long-term effects?

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Figure 6b. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Black respondents

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Figure 6c. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Hispanic respondents

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Figure 6d. Reported outcomes from experiences of incidents of hate – Total vs Arab / Middle Eastern respondents

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Some individuals in the CAH database change their actions while outside, which involves no longer wearing certain religious items, listening to music, only speaking English instead of a native language, or no longer wanting to show affection to a partner. An individual reported, “Students have called me ‘ch***’ several times while walking past them. I’ve also had a student spit on my feet. Consequently, I listen to music every time I’m walking to and from work.” In another individual report, the daughter of the reporter’s friend was repeatedly harassed by children at school who shouted, “Build that Wall” and told her that she would be deported. The reporter stated, “These types of incidents have continued to happen and my friend’s daughter is so afraid of the comments, that she’s asked her mother to only speak English when they are out together.”

In another CAH incident, an interracial couple was harassed by a man who didn’t think that a White woman and a Black man should be together. When they showed affection towards each other, the man told them to stop. The couple brushed the incident off; however, the woman stated, “I’m still a little afraid to show public affection to my partner because of this incident.”

Some individuals in the CAH database decide to relocate from the neighborhood where they experience hate. An individual reported, “ African American pastor was spit on and harassed to the point she left town out of fear for safety.” These changes tend to occur most commonly after repeated harassment or multiple hate incidents from the same source, although single, severe incidents can still trigger these effects. In the Hate Incidence Poll, 9 percent of individuals also reported wanting to move or relocate following an incident.

Changes in participation, on the other hand, tend to occur after a single incident in the CAH database (e.g., an Uber driver being reluctant to ever drive again after facing a verbal assault from a passenger; churchgoers staying home from church after vandalism; a couple leaving town after their property was spray-painted with abusive language; a person deleting a comment in support of a political candidate after written abusive language). Experiencing repeated harassment often leads to people not wanting to leave their home, according to several instances in the CAH database (e.g. “she was utterly traumatized and no longer wants to leave the house by herself, as a black-haired, olive-skinned Muslim woman,” “Due to the stress and fear, I really don’t leave the house”). In the poll, 10 percent stated that they changed their participation in their community and 9 percent stated that they changed their participation online.

Noted effects in the CAH database of a hate incident on a respondent’s physical health range from concussions to stab wounds to broken bones, to even more serious injuries that require major surgeries such as facial reconstruction, amputations, or removal of an eye. For example, a man and his friend were attacked and called a gay slur. After the attack, he was told by doctors that he may lose sight in his left eye. In the poll, 6 percent of respondents stated that they experienced long term health or body effects following an incident.

Effects on emotional health often center around fear. In the CAH database, “A local woman said she’s now scared just to walk down the street after being violently attacked in for being gay.” In another example, an individual with her friends was eating ice cream when the group was attacked by another patron who verbally abused them until they ran away. The woman stated that following the incident, “If I feel like anyone looks at me in a strange way I get scared that they will jump at me, try to rip my hijab off, or yell discriminatory, racist expletives my way.” In several cases the two are linked, with respondents’ emotional health suffering after a physical attack. The Hate Incidence Poll discovered that depression and anxiety among impacted individuals were represented at 18 percent and 15 percent of the respondents respectively.

The CAH database shows performance at work or school is affected either because the incident occurs at their school or place of work or because the individual is impacted by an incident that happened elsewhere. In the Hate Incidence Poll, 12 percent of individuals report that their performance at work and/or school is affected. Respondents miss work due to physical and emotional health consequences from hate incidents. For example, an individual was attacked and called homophobic slurs. The physical ramifications of the attack “has rendered him unable to work for the next month.”

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