Monday, March 1, 2010

The Levels Of Hate: Even Through The Eyes Of An Empath

I hate you!

Hate, what a hard edged word, which makes one think of emotions like bitterness, resentment, abuse, prejudice, and many other things to numerous to write. Some of them, so abhorrent, that you would not even want to imagine them like hate crimes, rape, and murder. But I will digress from talking about the latter for now, simply because those are extreme versions of hate, and I would prefer to focus on more basic forms of hate right now.

So let's look at hate, shall we? And before you assume this has absolutely nothing to do with you, because you are perhaps an Empath....remember one simple thing. We all have had moments, without exception, in our lives where we have had the momentary thought of "I hate _____ (insert name here)", for whatever reason.

My daughter, who is a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and an Empath, said much the same thing to me recently in connection with her sister. And it was nothing more than a momentary reaction to a fight they had been having at the time. Does this mean she actually hates her sister deep down? No, not really. Her long term feelings for her sister, which are that she does love her sibling, were simply set aside for a momentary reaction to the situational circumstances she was confronted with in the form of a heated fight, where in both exchanged some nasty comments with one another. And this is very normal, between siblings.

But this single episode, which is a relatively regular thing in my household (and probably many others, as well), got me thinking about the word hate and what it really means. Do we really hate the people, we claim to hate, or do we hate their behaviors, how they treat us, how they see us, and what they do to us ~ like belittle us, abuse us, mistreat us, and so on?

Now please don't misunderstand me here, I realize there is real hate in this world. And there are real atrocities perpetrated based on that hate. But I'm not talking about the kind of hate which is born out of atrocities. I'm talking about normal every day moments, when we say out loud or think to yourselves, "God, I hate that person!!!" In this I truly wish to distinguish which kind of hate we will be discussing.

And perhaps, when we have moved through this part of the discussion, we will then move on to other types of hate, as well. So be warned, this could get....painful to read, but its important none the less. So before you move any further into this discussion, be very aware of where this discussion could potentially take you. And if you do not wish to go there, please feel free (without worrying about offending the writer) of not reading this blog to its ending. I will completely understand.

Defining Hate From Different Points Of View

Lets look at some definitions of hate, so we have a better idea of what we are talking about here. We all pretty much know the meaning of the word itself, but sometimes seeing it in writing can help put it into perspective for us.

One website defines Hate as:
  1. hate: the emotion of intense dislike; a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action
  2. hate: dislike intensely; feel antipathy or aversion towards
One website says this about Hate:
Hate, as a mode of guilt or of pride, generates destructive thoughts (but at a lesser intensity than paranoia). Antithetical thoughts, when directed to other people, represent pride ; when directed to oneself, represent guilt. At a much lesser intensity of denigration, criticisms of other people represent jealousy, whilst criticisms of myself arise from my sense of idealism.

Hate by itself is the emotional dynamic of the ability to sustain long periods of concentration and meditation. It does not require an object to focus on (it mirrors pure love in this respect) ; it is a general-purpose tool for cutting positive attachments, especially in relationships (for example, pride in hate mode rejects another person, whereas hate by itself rejects any pleasant attachment to the other person). Hate produces clear thinking and strengthens a person’s will power. It supports the desire for solitude. It cools the mind and may easily be mistaken for a mild sense of peace. It is likely to be the prevailing mood when a mediator claims that they are no longer acting from a sense of ego. The skillful way of using hate is to clear the mind of redundant attachments and desires.

A wonderful book called Purification of the Heart : Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart, by Imam al-Mawlud; Hamza Yusuf Hanson (translator), which can be found here:, says this about hatred:

The next disease is bughd, which is hatred. In itself, hatred is not necessarily negative. It is commendable to hate corruption, evil, disbelief, murder, lewdness, and anything else that God has exposed as despicable. The Prophet never disliked things because of their essences, but because of what they manifested.

Hatred or strong dislike of a person for no legitimate reason is the disease of bughd. The Prophet once said to his Companions, “Do you want to see a man of Paradise?” A man then passed by and the Prophet said, “That man is one of the people of Paradise.” So a Companion of the Prophet decided to learn what it was about this man that earned him such a commendation from the Messenger of God. He spent time with this man and observed him closely. He noticed that he did not perform the Night Prayer Vigil (Tahajjud) or anything extraordinary. He appeared to be an average man of Madinah. The Companion finally told the man what the Prophet had said about him and asked if he did anything special. And the man replied, “The only thing that I can think of, other than what everybody else does, is that I make sure that I never sleep with any rancor in my heart towards another.” That was his secret.

The cure for hatred is straightforward. One should pray for the person toward whom he feels hatred, make specific supplications mentioning this person by name, asking God to give this person good things in this life and the next. When one does this with sincerity, hearts mend. If one truly wants to purify his or her heart and root out disease, there must be total sincerity and conviction that these cures are effective.
Another website defines the symptoms of Hate thusly:
THE SYMPTOMS OF HATRED can show up as anger, hostility, aversion, or ill-will. We wish harm or suffering upon another person. Don’t you just hate all Indians because you had the unfortunate incident with a snatch thief who happened to be an Indian? Oftentimes, hatred makes us resist, deny, and avoid unpleasant feelings, circumstances, and people we do not like. We want everything to be pleasant, comfortable, and satisfying all the time. This behavior simply reinforces our perception of duality and separation. Hatred thrusts us into a vicious cycle of always finding conflict and enemies everywhere around us. That soft-spoken waiter serving you can quickly become your object of hatred simply because you think he is gay!

We can also create self-hatred when we have an aversion to our own uncomfortable feelings. Do you hate yourself for not being able to lose weight and attain J-Lo’s figure? Don’t you just loathe yourself when you see that cousin of yours having everything a woman should have: good-looking boyfriend, cash to splurge and a head-turning body? Self-hatred forces us to deny, resist, and push away our own inner feelings of fear, hurt and loneliness, treating these feelings like an internal enemy.
Now,the point of taking you from a generalized definition of hate to showing you different definitions of hatred, from different points of view (even those you might not wish to acknowledge), is to say that hate is everywhere. It is not something that is localized to one family, one community, one city, one country, or one brand of person (religious or otherwise). It is a wide spread thing that permeates all societies, despite cultural and religious differences. Everyone thinks about it, everyone bears some level of it. And everyone has fallen prey to it at least once in their lives, whether they were on the receiving end of it or the perpetrating end of it.

Hate...Its everywhere!

Levels Of Hate

There are numerous levels of hate, so lets look at some of them (but please be aware that these are not technical and/or medical/psychiatric terms for the levels of hate).
  1. Momentary Hate
  2. Self Hate
  3. Healing Hate
  4. Painful Hate
  5. Resentful Hate
  6. Prejudicial Hate
  7. Full Blown Hate
Now lets look at each of these in some more depth, so that we can truly understand them, how they pertain to us, and why it occurs.

1. Momentary Hate

Momentary hate is basically what we described at the beginning of this discussion. This occurs do to being confronted with circumstances where in one is left angry, seething even, to the point where one is not thinking rationally. Nor, do they care what slips out of their mouths at that moment. So things get said like, "I hate you!", without conscious thought to how it might affect the other party is often more common, than not.

But just because it is said, and probably felt in that singular moment, does not necessarily mean this is how one would feel generally when they are not in a state of heightened emotions where they have been pushed to their breaking point because of something like a fight. It is a thoughtless and tactless means of expressing oneself without conscious thought to the repercussions it can have later and the effects it can have on the other person.

2. Self Hate

Self hate is that which we perpetrate on ourselves due to low self esteem, low self worth, and little to no self confidence. It is a form of self validation of the feelings of inadequacies which are common to people with low self esteem. It reinforces the state of psychological self mutilation one is perpetrating upon themselves, to keep themselves from succeeding in life. In other words, it is an ongoing cycle of punishing oneself for the perceived inadequacies one sees in oneself.

For someone with an eating disorder, like Anorexia or Bulimia, this would occur when they look into the mirror and see themselves as 'fat', even though they are slowly wasting away to skin and bones physically. They would not perceive their own innate beauty, despite their size, because all they would see are the flaws (whether they truly existed or not).

For someone seeking employment, this might mean refusing to apply for certain positions, even though they are fully qualified, because they tell themselves things like, "Who would ever hire someone like me. They definitely won't like me, so whats the point of even sending in a resume. I'd just be forced to get rejected anyway." And in their mind's eye, it is better not to even try because of the off chance of being rejected, rather than taking a risk by putting themselves out there with the possibility of actually getting the job they truly wanted in the first place.

3. Healing Hate

Healing hate, strangely sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? I mean, how can hate heal? But there are times in our lives when we need this emotion, in order to push past a particular period of time in our lives, like when a relationship born in love ends. In this case, the emotions of hating would be part of the grieving process. The stages of grief are thus:

1. Denial and Isolation.
2. Anger.
3. Bargaining.
4. Depression.
5. Acceptance.

But when we call this the grieving process, this is not necessarily over a death. But it is in the same sphere, because you are mourning the lose of something that has sustained you and supported you for its duration ~ a relationship. And when you come to step number 2, which is Anger, generally there is hate in there, as well. There is blame and resentment (note how this one ties in with Resentful Hate) because something that was precious to you is ending. We've all been there, and we've all hated the person who left us, even if deep down all we wanted was to be with them again. This is part of the grieving process, so that we can heal and move forward with our lives.

4. Painful Hate

This kind of hate can rise out of some painful issue of the past, such as abuse or neglect. It can also be tied into Resentful Hate, due to the nature of its basis for existing, and yet it can also stand alone because it is not only based on resentment, but in painful suffering, as well. So this would be hate towards one's abuser and perhaps other people who remind one of their abuser.

To a certain degree, this one might not even seem rational. But this kind of hate would become almost instinctive, meaning not even at the conscious level of understanding, toward anyone or anything which might be a reminder of the past trauma they suffered.

More often than not, people with this kind of hate embedded in their psyche can find no logical reason for the hate, because it is generally the subconscious mind that draws the connections of things like traits and behaviors between the past abuser and a person currently in their lives.

5. Resentful Hate

Now, this one is an interesting kind of hate. While it can be linked to Painful Hate, as we said above, it is definitely in its own category, as well. And with this one, in particular, we've all tended to go through it. So let's look at what it is.

Have you ever had a moment in your life (be it in high school, social life, extracurricular activities, work, home life, and so on) where you felt envious of someone else? Perhaps it was your sibling, a friend, a lover, or even just some random person who you perceived as better than you at something like academics, sports, or whatever. Perhaps this person got the promotion and/or raise you were working toward, in your job.

And this person left you feeling inadequate, doubting yourself, and well....just generally all around pissed off, even to the point of hating the other person. This escalates to the point where you can't even stand to be around the other person, because you feel as though they are rubbing their success in your nose (even if this is not the case in reality).

This is Resentful Hate, where in, you feel embittered over the lose of what you perceive as rightfully yours to begin with.

6. Prejudicial Hate

Prejudicial hate is just that, based on prejudice. It means one has an aversion to certain types of people, be it religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, body size, hair color, political affiliations, and so on. The list is quite literally endless, with this one.

Reactions range from something as simple as turning away from a person that one finds 'distasteful' to verbal aggression to the point of verbally assaulting someone who is perceived as different (who fits the profile of what the person is prejudiced against). As well, it might also be covered up with statements like 'I'm not prejudiced!!!' when confronted with said behaviors. Denial, because of how prejudice is perceived in our PC (politically correct) world, is extremely common. To put it another way, this is where discrimination occurs.

Interestingly, this particular type of hate, as well as others, can sadly be tied into the next type of hate, Full Blown Hate.

7. Full Blown Hate

Full Blown Hate, for lack of a better term, is hate that has escalated to the point where violence becomes a viable option for releasing the rage associated with the hate. This is often called a hate crime. Lets look at this. Wikipedia says this about Hate Crimes:
Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.

"Hate crime" generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed conditions. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).
This, sadly, brings a story to mind I once heard from someone I met some years ago. I will refrain from using names or locations, to respect and protect their privacy, as I share this with you.

One night a woman (who was Pagan) and her husband were walking down the sidewalk. Some teenage guys were messing around and began to verbally harass her, because she chose to wear a pentagram openly around her neck as a symbol of her faith. As the continued to harass her, the only words she said to them as she attempted to go on her way was, 'Blessed Be' (which is a term of respect within the Pagan Community).

Before she or her husband knew what was happening, they were both being attacked physically, with her taking the brunt of the attack. They hit her across the back of the head with some type of object (she was never sure what it was). And they left her and her husband there, laying in the street.
She ended up with severe head trauma, to the point where she lost all memory of the incident itself. As well, she also lost some of her capacity to retain short term memory.

And when, after healing, she still chose to wear her pentagram openly, she could not understand why her husband would be so angry with her. It's only been recently that she has had flashes of the memories come back to her, but still she told me, she could forgive those kids, because you see she placed the blame on their parents for teaching them to have such hate in their hearts.

Stories like this are actually quite common, and the story I just recounted is quite simplistic by comparison to some that have happened throughout history. Gruesome, horrific incidents of human suffering at the hands of other human beings, all based on hate. The mere thought of it might sicken you and make you want to turn away, but in reality, even when you choose to turn a blind eye, it still occurs every day in all parts of the world. It is an extremely sad reality.

Hate & The Empath

Hate is not something that anyone holds the corner market on or is immune to feeling and/or being a victim of, be it Empaths or Non-Empaths. To say you are an Empath, does not mean you feel no hate, anger, resentment, bitterness or all of the other seemingly ugly emotions that human beings are prone to feeling in their less shining moments of vulnerability.

There is a belief in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, that says that as one spiritually develops they move past the need to feel anger and hate. For most people though, this is not a reality. Everyone can, of course, strive toward this and perhaps even attain it, but the general population is more prone to anger and hate, as well as every other emotion that exists, than they are to strive toward that higher perspective where in there is no need for hate or anger.

So it is important to recognize the different types of hate, despite where you imagine you stand or stand in reality, because as you walk through life you will encounter it at different levels, and you might even feel it in yourself at times. And this is true for Empaths and Non-Empaths alike.

So think about it, the next time you see someone being bullied, discriminated against, attacked (verbally or otherwise). Think about it when you are the victim of it. Think about it when, perhaps one day, you are the perpetrator of it. Simply and honestly.....think about it.


  1. I want to thank you for this extremely thoughtful and mature reflection. I did a search for "empathic hate" (since I'm discussing in a major paper how some members of hate groups are drawn into membership by common feelings of shared hates).

    And, Voila!, you appear, with this wonderful, wonderful statement. I hope this means we may share some communication on email. At any rate, I will explore more of what you have written.

    With Great Enthusiasm,
    John D. Willis, PhD, President
    Leadership Ethics Online

  2. I'd like that. :) I can be reached through my facebook badge in the right hand column. :) Thank you for your kind words.