How Hatred Grows and How to Disable It

Updated on February 21, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor, explores attitudes and actions that can help us maintain our mental well-being.

The story of my earliest hate experience is told in my silly four-year old mindset. It reveals how easily negative emotions can grow in childish minds which have not been disciplined to explore feelings.

My shiny-red ball became my best friend in the absence of playmates. It rolled, with me running behind it, all over our front yard --until the day it caused me to not like it anymore.

Per Yoda:


That's right. The ball was to blame for my change in attitude toward it. Why? Because had I not bend over to pick it up, there would be no pain in my right side. That day, as I continued to bend and to hurt, my dislike turned to anger and progressed to hate. Eventually, I threw the ball away.

That night, as I lay in my bed, the pain which the ball started in my right side continued. The next day, my appendix was removed during emergency surgery. Look what my favorite toy did to me! Is it not reasonable for me to hate all shiny-red balls?

The Internal Pain

The pain in my right side surfaced in the process of making contact with the ball. The ball became the scapegoat, because I did not recognize the real culprit -- the dangerous health hazard inside me. My pain was physical, but Sociologist Martin Oppenheimer of Rutgers University argues that people can be learn to hate others, if they can be convinced to blame said others for their pain of frustration, insecurity, and fear of losing things they want or need.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines hate as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. People who are angry that a foreigner is elected to a position which they think should be held by a native can be seduced into hating the foreigner. People who are fearful that a president will deny them opportunity to enter his country will probably hate him. It helps to understand that hatred, whether or not it is seems justified, originates from negative emotions inside us.

If we can understand and deal with our internal issues, we may be able to create options beside hate, for dealing with other people.

The External Aggravation

Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.

— Coretta Scott King

It would be tragic if during our mature years, we still operate on the childish perspective of blaming others for aggravating the pain inside us. The pain is a pre-existing condition; and every aggravation is a call to internal cleansing, repairing or healing; not a summon to get angry or to hate.

The ball did not hurt me although at first, it happened to be present whenever I felt the pain. If it can be credited for anything, it must be credited for making me aware that I needed medical attention.

Similarly, if my envy or my sense of loss surfaces at the sight of my ex-husband's new wife, she may be credited with making me aware that I need to practice self-control and self-affirmation. If I realized that, it would not make sense to hate her. Negative emotions do not disappear for good, but they can remind us to guard our inner peace from destruction by external situations.

How Hate Escalates

The following table is prepared by Partners Against Hate for Middle Schools in a lesson titled The Escalation of Hate. Adults can benefit from it too. Notice that the first steps are negative attitudes (inside us) which grow into outward expressions of hate. Notice also the various shades in which hate functions.

Explanation of Term
1(a) Prejudice
a negative attitude toward a person or group formed without examining individual characteristics
1(b) Stereotyping
an oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard to individual differences
2. Discrimination
the denial of justice and fair treatment
3. Scapegoating
unfairly blaming an individual or group for circumstances that have varied causes
4(a) Violence
an action that emotionally or physically harms individuals or communities
4(b) Hate Crime
criminal act directed at individual or property because of real or perceived race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nation origin, sexual orientation, or disability
5. Genocide
the systematic destruction or the attempted extermination of a group of people
On the original chart, steps 1(a) and (b) are on the same line. So are 4(a) and (b).

Revenge Is Not the Answer

We may fight against what is wrong, but if we allow ourselves to hate, that is to ensure our spiritual defeat and our likeness to what we hate.

— George William Russell

Revenge on human beings can really cause hurt, but consider the following two quotes and see whether it ever does what we wish it would;

  • There is some comfort in killing that which has hurt you, but it is cold comfort. It'll destroy things inside of you that the original pain wouldn't have harmed. ― Laurell K. Hamilton
  • An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind. ― Mahatma Gandhi

Revenge is obviously not the answer. If we hate in response to hate, it spreads and destroys even the innocent in its path. We have witnessed the death of many innocent people during wars and terrorist attacks between countries and groups who hate each other, but their revengeful acts have only managed to make more people fearful.

Options to Disable Hate

The summary of the points in this article is helpful:

  • Focus on finding the cause of inner discomfort, pain or conflict instead of feeding the negative emotions which surface because of it. Hating external objects because of inner injuries is a waste of time.
  • Hate escalates both subtly and aggressively. Be aware of the various expressions of hate and avoid people or groups who promote hatred in any of its forms.
  • Treat aggravation as a call for reflection to discover the cause of the pain. Humility and forgiveness are useful tools in interaction with people we prefer to hate.
  • Responding to hate with hate is not an option.

Credit: Michele
Credit: Michele | Source

In addition, engage in non-violent forms of response to hate. For example:

  • Support efforts by civic groups, the police and the media to disable hate.
  • Provide emotional and any other necessary form of support to victims of hate.
  • Teach anti-hate values like tolerance, compassion, equality and brotherly love whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Show concern by speaking and writing anti-hate opinions.

Finally, believe with all your heart that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.


Kiger, Patrick J: How Hate Works, (Copyrighted 2017 by HowStuffworks)

Seltzer, Loren F. Ph.D.: Five Biggest Problems With Revenge and Its Best Remedies, (Copyrighted 1991-2017 by Psychology Today)

Questions & Answers


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      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 12 months ago from The Caribbean

        Promisem, hope you're over the anger and hate now. Galad that you found some useful points in the article. Thanks for your feedback.

      • promisem profile image

        Scott S Bateman 12 months ago

        Someone committed a terrible act against a person I love. My anger over time grew into hate. When I realized what was happening to me, I worked hard at getting rid of the hate. As your article points out, forgiveness is an important step to take.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 13 months ago from The Caribbean

        Nathanville, I appreciate your feedback. Thanks for sharing the very noble principles by which you choose to live. They make life easier for you and for others.

      • Nathanville profile image

        Arthur Russ 13 months ago from England

        A very astute article; although I’m not religious I am a ‘humanitarian’ in principle, so turning the other cheek, and be willing to forgive comes naturally to me.

        One of my guiding principles is ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ e.g. revenge never solves anything positive.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

        Shauna, Martin and Katharina were indeed special. Their purposes were noble and their love grew. Thanks for your comment.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 14 months ago from Central Florida

        Both Loretta and Martin Luther King were wise people. They both spoke of love, not hate. We need more "public" people like them.

        This article is very timely, Dora. Let's hope it's not evergreen!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 14 months ago from The Caribbean

        Honey, you're so sweet and kind. I will also remember your encouragement. Kindness is such a better memory than the opposite.

      • HoneyBB profile image

        Helen Laxner 14 months ago from Illinois

        I love that you're inspiring people to be more kind and to recognize the uselessness of hatred. Your wisdom will surely encourage people to be more loving and I'm sure your words will be remembered by many for years to come.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Vladimir, thanks for stopping by and for making such a valuable input on the topic of hate. I can see truth in Dr. Candice Pert's statement. What a waste of energy, and what dreadful results!

      • ValKaras profile image

        Vladimir Karas 15 months ago from Canada

        Ms Dora---Excellent presentation about hate, its causes, and possible mature way of dealing with it. Along with other negative emotions it wouldn't be so much of a bother if it was a passing one.

        But, according to Dr. Candice Pert, when hate is harbored for a while, its neuropeptides nicely fit into the pleasure receptors in brain. Then we start literally seeking objects for our hate. Sounds crazy, but we are capable of "feeling good for feeling bad".

        If this was not so, the world might have shaken off all hostilities long time ago.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Ann, thanks for sharing your insight on love and hate. I value your wise input.

      • Ann810 profile image

        Ann810 15 months ago from Sunny Cali

        Hate is such a strong word, I don't have hate for anyone. But someone brought it to my attention that God hates certain things in the Bible, God can do what He wants, He is God. So I guess it's fair to say, I hate whatever the Most High God hates. To hate one thing, is to love the opposite or something that's beneficial to you.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Oh Martie, the application is the challenge. Praying that you can experience some personal peace in the midst of all the turmoil around you. Thanks for commenting.

      • MartieCoetser profile image

        Martie Coetser 15 months ago from South Africa

        This hub is absolutely profound and applicable to all of us in South Africa. Thanks, MsDora :)

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, your comment is very encouraging. Aiming to live up to your expectations.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 15 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        You introduce the problem. Then you give us the solution. Great work, Dora. It would do us good to commit some of these facts to memory. Thanks for another well-pieced together article.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, you're right. If a man is ashamed of being illiterate, he will speak angrily to his colleagues to keep them from getting close enough to discover that he cannot read. He has the option of learning to read.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Manatita, your encouragement means a lot to me. I told you my Muse was astir. Yes, praise be!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora this is great. I am now working on the notion that hate and outrage are a distraction of our mind so we do not feel uncomfortable feelings like shame. We cannot live with ourselves if we think we are not good people. But rather than cure our issues, we go after another.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 15 months ago from london

        You're improving even more, Dee, not only in your writing capacity, but in the provocative insights and reflections, that you're trying to convey. Now I need to really watch my back. (chuckle)

        A truly wholesome hub with great insights. The enemy is and has always been within, as mentioned by our Lord if one cares to look carefully. Fear, insecurity and prejudice, do play a big part. Hence countries go to war, even when they are of the same colour or neighbourhood.

        I perceive that you are threatening my livelihood; trying to take something away from me, and so it goes on. In the UK people voted for Brexit, and immigration was perceived to be a real threat. Now there is sadness and many are worried. Speak about the shifting states of one's mind.

        This whole thing is a wonderful play of the Lord; a divine mystery, but yes, I must not steal your thunder and your Hub is flawless by itself. Praise be!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Alicia. Reminding ourselves often will help us stay on track. Hope these reminders will last.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Flourish, I agree that the difficulty in disabling hate can be made easier with effort. The benefit will be worth it. Thanks for your insight.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Natalie, thanks for your kind comment. Hoping to see you around going forward.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is an excellent article, MsDora. You've shared some great advice. I think that it's important that we follow it.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

        The most amazing relationships can happen sometimes when you reach out to rivals or even enemies. Some people just cannot do it, but real progress can be made if this happened more often.

      • Natalie Frank profile image

        Natalie Frank 15 months ago from Chicago, IL

        Wonderful article! Your story at the beginning really illustrates the points you are trying to make. Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Marlene. Glad to be a reminder of these truths; most (I think) of us just need to remember what we already know.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 15 months ago from USA

        This article is filled with wonderful advice. I also enjoyed the quotes you shared. I especially like the quote at the end by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the quote from Mahatma Gandhi, "An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind." There is such truth in these two quotes alone.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Nell, I also think it funny when the ex-wife blames the new wife when it is the husband that the two women should make accountable. Thanks for your input.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Tamarajo, thanks for sharing your observation. We're on the same page. You also encourage me by selecting that quote to reflect on. I try to live by that truth.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 15 months ago from England

        On the subject of people getting married again and the divorced partner being angry, I quite agree with you! I often say that when I see someone on TV arguing with the new wife/husband as though its their fault, when really its the ex partners fault. Hatred is a funny thing, I have one big regret that I can't change about a friend, and yes I believe what you say.

      • Tamarajo profile image

        Tamarajo 15 months ago

        I found this quote very insightful and worth much reflection.

        "The pain is a pre-existing condition; and every aggravation is a call to internal cleansing, repairing or healing; not a summon to get angry or to hate"

        Hate is so painful to be around even if your not the object of it. There seems to be so much entitlement and pride attached to it.

        You give some thoughtful considerations to this topic

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Whonu, sorry I missed your comment. Thanks for sharing your observations on this topic. The media! The media! Hoping for the day when it can be trusted again.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        James, thanks for commenting on my childhood story. It surfaces every now and then with a good lesson. By the way, I live in the Caribbean but I am an American naturalized citizen having lived in the US for most of my life; so yes, I follow the themes of hatred in the political speeches and I denounce them too. Thanks for your input.

      • justthemessenger profile image

        James C Moore 15 months ago from The Great Midwest

        Wow, Ms Dora! That was an effective use of personal experience to illustrate the point at your hub's beginning. And, just to add my two cents, you see what kind of leadership my country, the United States of America, has chosen when the language and politics of malice dominate an election.

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 15 months ago from United States

        Thank you so much for this wonderful work you share with all. Now is a time some powers would divide us as a nation. You see it every day televised on some media. These media are under control of those with an agenda. Thank you again for your message of understanding. whonu

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Bill. I value your affirmation "for all of us." It is more difficult for some than for others, but it is possible to live without hate.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 15 months ago from Olympia, WA

        For those wondering, it is greatly liberating to live a life without hate. Follow Dora's suggestions...please...for all of us!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Dolores, "hooked on hatred" is a slavish position to be in. Pity the people who want to live like this. Thank you very much for your insightful comment.

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 15 months ago from East Coast, United States

        Hi Ms Dora - well said. Sadly, people who fall into the stupid reaction of hate somehow feel ennobled by their anger. The strong emotions that fills their hearts make them feel strong and in their secret weakness, they get hooked on hatred. They can't see how dangerous that hatred is and how they are hurting themselves.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Kyriaki, it is always encouraging when a reader is inspired. Thank you very much.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Whonu, thank God you outlived your desire to retaliate. And thanks for your valuable input on this topic.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Jodah. Your conclusion is pure truth. Without a sense of responsibility, we can be led into directions we never planned to go.

      • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

        Kyriaki Chatzi 15 months ago

        This piece of advice/article is truly inspirational, MsDora. Thank you for sharing!

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 15 months ago from United States

        Yes, MsDora it is too easy to hate a thing or someone rather than trying to understand them. I remember kids back in school who did very ugly things to me, even after I was injured and had a major spinal operation after playing football. A girl and two boys hounded me to hell and back until graduation. I swore one day to get even. Over time, as I saw them endure horrible life events, my attitude changed to forgiveness, Thank you for sharing his meaningful work. Blessings. whonu

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 15 months ago from Queensland Australia

        This is excellent, MsDora. Thank you for sharing this insight. It is so easy to attach blame to someone or something else when something doesn't go right for us. We need to take responsibility for how we react.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Mary, thanks for your encouragement. I appreciate your very kind comment.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 15 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        Ms. Dora, once again you are hitting the mark of reason and decency, what we need to live in harmony with others. We can fight the wrong but not allow ourselves to hate. It only destroys us.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 15 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Kathleen. Have a good night, when you conclude your night owl posture. I appreciate you!

      • Kathleen Cochran profile image

        Kathleen Cochran 15 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia



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