Hate, like love, is an all-consuming passion. It often represents extreme behaviour and is linked to aggression. Hate could be due to anger, fear or revulsion. Love can turn into hate and hate into love. Both love and hate can happen at first sight, but they don’t die with corresponding rapidity. It is said that love and hate are intimately linked within the human brain. Studies reveal that the hate circuit has something in common with the love circuit in our brain.
Researchers say that some neural circuits in the brain responsible for hate are also used during romantic love. In romantic love, the lover is often less critical and judgemental regarding the loved person. In hate, it is more likely that the hater may want to exercise judgement in calculating moves to harm, injure or otherwise exact revenge.
Rational hate arises when one is attacked and concludes with the end of the attack. The attack could be personal, such as attack on one’s own life or freedom or moral and spiritual values. The attack could be against those whom one loves. Irrational hatred, on the other hand, is character-conditioned and experience-based, especially those in early childhood. Irrational haters find it difficult to conceal their hostility. They seem to be in a hurry to express, rationalise and justify hate. Hateful situations give them pleasure and relief. Irrational haters resent the happiness of others. Hatred of this kind affects one’s rational judgement; the pleasure in satisfying one’s hatred often becomes more important than the practical task of defeating the enemy.
Hate someone, if you must, and only if he is worth hating. Erich Fromm says that hatred for some enemies is legitimate. It is also said that love can drive out some kinds of hate, but not all kinds. Fromm said, “We must not teach hatred but we must teach love for those institutions and ideals which are attacked.”
Hate is a result of our perceptions, attitudes, impressions, and opinions about the external world. The problem is we are frequently mislead by ourselves. Our perception about our external world is self-made. If you start thinking that you are an ‘outsider,’ you start behaving like an outsider. As a result your anxiety level goes up. If you can identify a person or a system that is responsible to raise your anxiety level, you begin to hate it. More often than not we are in a hurry to rationalise our hatred.
The psychology of hate says that we grow to like people for whom we do nice things and dislike those to whom we are unkind. This is called The Benjamin Effect, named after Benjamin Franklin.
Franklin was good at turning his haters into his fans. He writes in his autobiography, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” We generally think we are better than others. When our high self-esteem gets a dent, we don’t like it. To overcome the situation we try to build a fantasy world. In this world we try to be more positive than we actually are.
In situations where we think we are totally undeserving and unworthy, our attitude towards others also gets affected. For example, when people are nice to an undeserving person, he might feel that behind all this nicety there must be some ulterior motive. We often tend to dismiss the nicety people confer on us. We manipulate facts to match our expectations.
(The writer is a biotechnologist and ED, Birla Institute of Scientific Research, Jaipur)
Purnendu Ghosh