The Psychology of Hate

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on April 9, 2014 12:55 pm

“Personal responsibility is the willingness to completely accept choices that we have made throughout our lives.”
~ Asa Don Brown, Waiting to Live

Hate has a pathological effect upon the psyche of the individual.  The pathology of hate is commonly linked to those that provide us protection and nurturing early in the early stages of our lives.  The nurturing of a parent or guardian can be the catalyst of a variety of psychological and psychiatric conditions.  It is not to say that hate cannot be spurred on by organic conditions of the mind, but we know that the greatest influence of hate is directly related to the nurturing received in our youth.

While psychological and psychiatric conditions of each individual may develop beyond the experiences per childhood; the presets surrounding the personal ideological viewpoints, theories,  ethical and moral compasses are undoubtedly influenced by those in direct contact with our own lives.

The makeup of hate is comprised of uncertainty, insecurity, loneliness, awkwardness, lack of confidence, self-doubt, unassertiveness, timidity, anxiety, instability, vulnerability, and defenselessness.  Whereas to love, a person has humility, security, assurance, acceptance, attachments, tenderness, patience, understanding, compassion and most of all, tolerance.


The human race is an intolerable species.  We are seldom welcoming of varying views, belief systems, and behaviors.  We shun or outwardly reject those who differ from our own person.  As a species, we are more apt to disregard or completely ignore anyone we disagree with.  Such intolerance is no different than blatant acts of hate and discrimination.  You may be asking yourself, how can ignoring or shunning be as reprehensible as violent acts.  While the acts of shunning or ignoring lack the physical violence of the fist; shunning and ignoring are intentionally setting a precedent of intolerance and bigotry.  It is this sort of behavior, attitudes, and percepts that is directly linked to instilling negative emotions (i.e. fear, distrust, hatred, worry, and personal distress).  The prejudices of an individual can invoke rage, hostilities, and an overall spirit of negativity.

While the intolerance begins within the mind and psyche of the individual, seldom does the intolerance keep isolated within the mind of the individual.  Sadly, the venomous nature of intolerance is capable of creeping itself slowly into the minds of others who directly and indirectly interact with the ill mind.

The spoils of intolerance are capable of diminishing and destroying every thread of communication.  It is the egregious nature of intolerance that spurs on the prejudices and bigotry  developed within the minds of those effected by such hate.


The victims of hate may be your neighbor, your friend, your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your grandparent, your employer, and/or your enemy.  While the victims may range in age, race, gender, and intellectual quotient (IQ); the desire of such discrimination is to reach  maximum proportions.

Hate has intentions on breaking down the unity of all humanity.  It does not cease with the individual, but seeks to infiltrate all aspects of personal and global thinking.  The injection of such venom penetrates each aspect of humanity whether on an individual scale or a global perspective.  It may include ethnicity, religion, national origin, genetic makeup, socioeconomic status, career choices and/or a personal disability.  The ultimate goal of all hate crimes is intended on reaching systemic levels, thus reinforcing the intentions of hate.


Bigotry knows no friend.   It has no allegiances, commitments, or personal loyalties.  It has no vested interest in guaranteeing your rights to freedom and protection.   Bigotry sees each person as a victim, a foe and a subordinate.  Whether you are weathering the hate of another, or you are the one employing the exercises of such intolerance; bigotry is like a two-edged sword, it will always slice both ways.  After all, bigotry is dividing everyone and has no desire to unite.  Bigotries ultimate goal is to divide and conquer, but the truth is, it conquers all within the clutches of it’s communications.


How is personal responsibility related to hate crimes?   As individuals, we are responsible for our behaviors, attitudes, and perceptions.  While we may have structured or unstructured influences, we are ultimately the decider of our choices.

Personal responsibility is the willingness to accept that we are capable of taking power over the deeds, actions, reactions, and the general conduct of our life.  We are acknowledging that we have been at the helm of our life; guiding our personhood down the sometimes turbulent and rocky shores.  Moreover, it is the willingness to accept our achievements, our successes, our failures, and the course of our lives.

When we are accepting responsibility, we are acknowledging that “we” have had a role in this game called life. While personal responsibility is the acknowledgement and acceptance of our role, we should never allow for our roles in life to become our identity.  For the roles we have in life, whether good or bad are mere historical markers, and nothing more.


If you have been a victim of hate or a violent crime, then you have been traumatically effected.    “The trauma of victimization can have a profound and devastating impact on crime victims and their loved ones. It can alter the victim’ s view of the world as a just place and leave victims with new and difficult feelings and reactions that they may not understand.” (Wasserman & Ellis, 2007, p. Vl-1)

While the impact of hate on the life of an adult is reprehensible, the impact of hate upon the life of child can prove ultimately destructive of their person.  Why? Unfortunately, “childhood trauma does not come in one single package.” (Brown, 2008, p. 5)  Furthermore, children are much more susceptible and prone to the outlying influences of their homes (i.e. peers, teachers, administrators, coaches, religious leaders, media, music, technology, the web).  A child’s impressionability is of graver concern, because while they may not be in the direct pathway of hate; they may be influenced to instill such ideological perspectives.


Victims of trauma and victimization have a higher probability of developing PTSD, than those who are never impacted by trauma.  The effect of such hate can lead to the development of PTSD.  If so, it is vitally important to receive the proper care and treatment.

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first applied to military veterans who experienced psychological trauma while serving in combat. Researchers are now applying this syndrome to crime victims. Being a victim of crime does not necessarily mean that an individual will develop PTSD. If victims receive appropriate crisis intervention, the chances of developing PTSD are reduced. Some recognizable symptoms of PTSD are:

  • Sleeping disorders/continued nightmares;
  • Constant flashbacks/intrusion of thoughts;
  • Extreme tension and anxiety;
  • Irritability/outbursts of anger;
  • Non-responsiveness or lack of involvement with the external world;
  • Prolonged feelings of detachment or estrangement of others; and
  • Memory trouble.

PTSD is a very complicated diagnosis and the presence of any of the above-mentioned symptoms does not mean that a person is suffering from PTSD. This bulletin does not provide the proper forum for a complete review.” (Ochberg, 2014, Online)


Whether you are the hated or the hater, it is important to find help and professional assistance.  Everyone who is linked to hate is influenced by hate.  Even for the individual who is not a receiver or sender of the hate crime is affected by such unacceptable intolerance.  Vicarious traumatization can sometimes have a greater impact, because the victim of vicarious trauma creates his or her own image of the crime, thus allowing for an exaggeration or greater tendency for rage.  “While primary victims of crime might be identified easily, secondary victims such as family and clan members may not be so readily identifiable and may not receive needed services. Identifying services offered for neighborhoods and communities can be even more difficult.” (Wasserman & Ellis, 2007, p. Vl-3)


It is of the utmost importance that you and those that you are associated with receive proper care and treatment.  Hate can have a profound and lasting effect.  The effects of hate crimes can differ for each victim.  Even if, there two individuals simultaneously suffering the same victimization, the effects may, and often does have, a different effect.  There are no absolutes when considering the effects of intolerance and prejudices.  The lingering effects of hate may not only have a profound effect upon the victim, but may go well beyond the original victim.  There is absolutely no doubt that hate can have a lasting effect influencing generations of people.

“In order to have a better understanding of the aftermath of criminal victimization, we must begin to accept the reality that crime is random, senseless and can happen to anyone regardless of the precautions that are taken to prevent being victimized. We must also understand that a victim’s life is turned upside down when he or she becomes a victim of crime. In order to help victims learn to trust society again and regain a sense of balance and self-worth, we must educate all those who come in contact with victims and survivors. With proper training, all professionals will be better able to assist victims in dealing with the aftermath and trauma of victimization.” (Ochberg, 2014, Online)

Finally, those who have been directly and indirectly effected can have lasting reprieve from the effects of hate.  The good news is, you do not have to live a life engulfed with the history of this abuse.  Through the proper supports and professional guidance, you will be capable of making a swift and healthy recovery.  Do not become dismayed by the struggles associated with your victimization, rather focus your energy on your recovery and move forward.  The ultimate goal and intentions of most perpetrators is to limit your ability to achieve growth.  Allow yourself to move beyond your victimization and to live life abundantly.

Author:   Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C., N.C.C.M.




Brown, A. D. (2008) The effects of childhood trauma on adult perception and worldview.Minneapolis, MN: Capella University, Proquest LLC; 154 pages; AAT 3297512

Mayo Clinic (2013) Friendships:  Enrich your life and improve your health.  Retrieved April 27, 2013 from

Ocheberg, F (2013) The trauma of victimization. Retrieved April 6, 2014 from  National Center for Victims of Crime

Wasserman, E. & Ellis, C. A. (2007) Chapter 6, Impact of crime on victims. Retrieved April 6, 2014 from  National Victim Assistance Academy

Wasserman, E. 2004. Understanding the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Brain Development of Native Children. West Hollywood, CA: Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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