What is the purpose of the emotion of hatred

By Hanan Parvez

Hatred is an emotion that we experience when we feel that someone or something is a threat to our happiness, success and well-being.

The feelings of hatred are there to motivate us to move away or avoid the people or things that we believe have the potential of causing us pain. We are all naturally motivated towards pleasure and away from pain.

So when a person says, "I hate X" (X can be anything- a person, place or even an abstract idea) it basically means that X has the potential to cause pain to this person. Hatred motivates this person avoid X, a potential source of pain.

For example, when a student says, "I hate maths" it means math is a potential source of pain for this student. It may be that he isn't good at it or that his math teacher is boring- we're not concerned with why hates math.

What we're concerned with and know for sure is that math is painful for this student and his mind, as defence against this pain, generates the feelings of hatred in him so that he's motivated to avoid maths.

Maths causes him such psychological discomfort that his mind is forced to launch the emotion of hatred as a pain-avoidance mechanism to make sure he stays away from maths. Had he been good at maths or perhaps found his math teacher interesting, it's highly likely that his mind would've found it unnecessary to launch the emotion of hatred and he probably would've loved it instead.

This extends to people as well. When you say that you hate someone, it only means that you see that person as a threat.

A student who always wants to top in his class may hate his bright classmates and thus feel uncomfortable around them. On the other hand he might feel okay when he deals with average students because they pose no threat to his goals.

How a hater's mind works

A hater hates because his psychological stability has been disturbed and by hating he manages to restore it. Jealousy and hatred are closely related. When a person who hates you sees you doing something that he wanted to do but couldn't or can’t, he may try to stop you or slow you down. This is because watching you succeed makes him feel inferior, insecure and unworthy.

He may therefore criticize you, gossip about you, ridicule you, laugh at you, demotivate you- anything to hinder your progress. He won’t congratulate you or acknowledge the great things you might have done even if he was impressed by them. He already feels inferior and can’t make himself feel worse by praising you.

Haters can’t see you happy and sometimes may even ask you detailed questions about your life just to make sure you're unhappy and miserable, or at least doing worse than them.

haters criticizing

Not everyone becomes a hater

All of us find ourselves in a weaker position compared to others at some point in our life but all of us don’t become haters. Why is that?

A person only hates someone when there’s nothing else that he can do i.e. all his options have been exhausted. Suppose a child wanted a toy but his parents refused to buy him one. The child will then do his best to persuade his parents and if that also doesn't work then he may start crying. If crying fails too then the child will resort to the last option i.e. hatred and might say things like:

I have the worst parents in the world

I hate you both

Since no one likes to be hated, the child’s mind used one last weapon to motivate the parents to buy the toy by inducing guilt in them.

When someone acts in a way that we don’t like or does something against our wish, we usually do our best to change their behaviour by employing various options. When we are unable to do that, our mind unconsciously makes us hate that person since not getting what we want is painful and the very purpose of hatred is to avoid pain.

Hating strangers

Sometimes people find themselves hating someone that they don’t even know! One fact you must know about the subconscious mind is that it believes that similar objects or people are the same.

If during school you hated a rude teacher who had brown hair and wore specs, then you might find yourself hating a similar looking person (with brown hair and specs) without understanding why.

This happens because you subconsciously think that the two persons are the same therefore hating one person automatically makes you hate another.


It’s normal to feel hatred towards people or things that have the potential of causing you real harm. But if your feelings of hatred are driven by jealousy or insecurity, then you may not be able to overcome your hatred unless you deal with those issues first.

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