The Difference Between Anger and Hatred

In preparation for my appearance later today on Sandy Weiner’s BlogTalkRadio program Courageous Conversations, I’ve been thinking about anger and hatred. Sandy and I will be discussing how to cope with the eruption of hatred in our intimate relationships and I needed to clarify how hatred differs from anger.

We can distinguish between anger and hatred in two ways: intensity and duration. It helps to think of them as occurring along a spectrum. Anger might be triggered when a loved one does something that frustrates us. It tends to come and go and doesn’t crowd out all our other feelings for that person. We can often voice it in ways that aren’t hurtful. Hatred lasts longer and is more pervasive. It tends to overwhelm us and obscure everything else we might feel. It makes us want to take action, to hurt or destroy whatever inspires the hatred.

Many of you might insist that you don’t ever feel hatred, or that hatred is a negative or “bad” emotion we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel. I believe that hatred simply is, however disruptive it might be within society and our relationships; it’s written into our genes. Certain experiences will automatically trigger feelings of hatred, whether or not we want to feel that way. These inbuilt physiological responses are called “affects” and it helps to think of them as akin reflexes. You can’t stop a particular affect from being triggered any more than you can stop your knee from jerking when the doctor strikes your patellar ligament with a rubber mallet.

Hatred comes up when we feel intensely threatened. If you think about wartime when we may be confronted with an existential threat, when we’re in danger of being annihilated, we fear and hate what threatens us. From the survival perspective, hatred has its uses as it mobilizes us against such a threat. On an interpersonal level, we may also feel a kind of existential threat when our self-esteem or sense of self-worth is on the line. That is, we may hate what exposes us to unbearable shame.

While expressing hatred of the enemy is useful on the battlefield, doing so on the domestic front is trouble, especially if you want to destroy what you hate. In personal relationships, the direct expression of hatred with the desire to wound can cause unforgettable and unforgivable damage. For this reason, society discourages the expression of hatred and views it as a “bad” emotion. Even psychologists feel uncomfortable with hatred and tend not to address it. When we grow up in families and in a culture that discourages the expression of hatred, we tend to repress or deny our awareness of it — that is, we rely on various psychological defense mechanisms in order to evade the painful truth of how we feel.

The primary defense for coping with hatred is splitting. Ambivalence is to be expected in human relationships – that is, we’ll feel both love and anger, and sometimes even hatred, for important people in our lives. That’s tough for many of us to bear; hatred is a very painful experience, so we tend to reserve our loving feelings for people close to us and split off our hateful feelings, directing them elsewhere — toward our enemies or others who “deserve” to be hated.

Society plays a large role in encouraging us to split. During wartime, governments often make use of propaganda to foment hatred for the enemy as we pull together on the home front. You can also see it in certain fundamentalist religions that encourage hatred toward certain groups: the church tells us it is acceptable to feel hatred in these particular circumstances, giving us an outlet for our hatred. It’s also visible in the political sphere these days, where the opposing parties encourage their members to feel hatred for the other side.

Managing hatred is extremely difficult because of its intensity in the moment and because it makes us want to attack, even to destroy whatever causes it. With my clients, I’m often struck by how many of them will tell me about fights during which they said to their partners, “Fuck off!” or even “Fuck off and die!” “I hate your fucking guts!” – that sort of thing. I’m of the opinion that we need hard and fast rules for ourselves and our relationship partners: such expressions of hatred should be completely off limits. We may also need a “time out,” to separate from our partners until the acute phase of hatred wanes.

There are preventative measures we can take, as well. We tend to react with anger when stressed or over-stimulated. We’ve all had the experience of being testy or lashing out during high-intensity periods at work, when we have too much on our plate and feel overwhelmed. If these conditions persist for long periods of time, the intensity of that angry response may build up; we may react with hatred or rage to a perceived slight we might have taken in stride during more peaceful times. Minor wounds may feel intensely threatening when we’re already at the limit of what we can bear. Preventing the eruption of hatred in our relationships means taking care of our state of mind so we don’t reach such a precarious place.

In a calmer state of mind after the eruption of hatred in our relationship, it helps to look at why we felt such a powerful reaction – that is, what’s the trigger? In my experience, an unbearable experience of shame often lies behind hatred in relationships. When our partners wound us deeply, making us feel particularly rejected and without value, whether or not they intended it, we may hate them. You often see this in divorce situations, where the end of a marriage stirs up powerful feelings of shame; we then hate our ex-spouse for “making” us feel that way. This especially holds true when they leave us for someone else. In that case, the shame (the sense of being rejected and unworthy) may be so unbearable that we’ll hate our ex-spouse with an enmity that lasts a lifetime.

Joe is the author and the owner of AfterPsychotherapy.com, one of the leading online mental health resources on the internet. Be sure to connect with him on Google+ and Linkedin.

Latest posts by Joseph Burgo (see all)

This entry was posted in Love and Hatred, Relationship Issues, Society and Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to The Difference Between Anger and Hatred

  1. Sonjia PRIDHAM says:

    I think I have hate and it was not just anger. Betrayal has caused me to feel hate and a big injustice done to me will also cause me to have hatred. It a overwhelming feeling to deal with , because I want to be very vindictive. I have to get control with hate because it could get out of control and that is not a good thing.

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Sonija, I would look for shame somewhere behind your hatred. It might not seem like shame at first, but when we make ourselves vulnerable to someone and then that person betrays us, it can stir up the kind of shame I’ve discussed elsewhere on this site. We may then defend against that feeling with vindictive hatred. I also take up this issue in my post about vindictive narcissists (and I don’t meant to imply that you’re one!).

  2. Bea says:

    I was bullied, rather incessantly, as a child and discovered, working with my therapist, that I have a deep and abiding hatred for most of my schoolmates.

    This is leavened with large amounts of indifference to their lives, a dose of “good bye and good riddance”… and just enough schadenfreude to make me feel uncomfortable.

    I mostly try to not think about them unless I’m specifically working on or through an issue (anger, shame, etc.). That helps quite a bit.

  3. rita says:

    Interestingtopic for a column on Valentine’s Day, Dr. Burgo!
    Do you think hatred is at the opposite end of love on a spectrum, or does the spectrum run just from anger to hatred? Is it hatred – anger – neutrality – good will – love? I have only felt deep hatred for 3 people, all of whom I felt had power over me. This hatred felt like an urge to annihilate them as revenge for making me feel like nothing. In one case, as an adult, I was aware of the deep level of shame that fed the waves of anger and the hatred, but not in the other two because I was a young child when the relationship went wrong. And that makes me wonder about whether children, who certainly feel anger, can feel hatred. I don’t REMEMBER feeling hatred towards them until adolescence. Do you think young children feel hatred, or do they not because they don’t understand that when someone abuses them they are instilling feelings of shame?

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      I think that anger and rage are part of the same emotional continuum, and when they become entrenched and enduring, that’s hatred. I remember feeling hatred as a child, well before adolescence.

  4. Kim says:

    Dear Dr. Joe,
    This post really helped me clarify some of the concepts in your chapter on splitting in your book. I think the chapter kind of left me hanging in terms of how to think about hatred. I don’t know if I can pin it down but after I read the chapter in the book I wasn’t quite clear if you were advocated everyone just going around hating each other. I know that sounds a little weird and maybe you clarify that later in the book. But it was an uncomfortable feeling and I’m glad to read this post; it helped lots.
    I have a situation going on with my husband that I haven’t shared about which illustrates these issues around ambivalence, anger and hatred. I met my husband in AA about 18 years ago. We were both about a year sober. We did not marry until 5 years later when we felt more stable. He had just divorced when I met him and had lots of work to do around that. We also both obviously had to work through things around our drinking and get a good hold on recovery before we even thought about marriage. I felt like we handled things in as healthy a manner as we could and we have had a close and healthy relationship (and fun too!). The issue right now is that he decided he was cured of his drinking problem about 3 1/2 years ago and started drinking again. He had given me small hints about his thinking but I was shocked when I found out he started again when he was away at a High School reunion. As you can imagine I have gone through periods of intense anger and yes hatred of him for this. And I love him very much. It is so painful to carry both of these feelings and so hard to know where to draw “lines”. Everyday it seems to come up as he has been drinking fairly frequently lately. A few times, he has come home completely drunk and it is such weird experience. Anyway, I’m trying to work things through as they come but I thank you for clarifying and normalizing these feelings that come up and giving some ways to try to deal. I have no idea what will happen but this experience has been really hard to go through. I’m glad for this site. Thanks again

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Kim, I’m curious about your hatred of him for beginning to drink again. Is it because you find it threatening that you hate him? It sounds to me like he’s in a fair bit of denial about his drinking problem. This is a stretch, but I wonder if you’re having to carry all the shame for both of you now. That might account for your hatred. Just wondering.

      • Kim says:

        I guess it does feel very threatening. It feels threatening to the very core of our relationship. He is the first person I feel really loved me. He was my first true relationship. When I started to date him, I started to feel normal. He was the first person I had sex with. He helped me look at myself as beautiful. I know there is a lot of idealization at work here but it is also true. He helped me. He also idealizes me in many ways. His drinking must threaten all of this in my mind somehow; which as I write this makes me realize how much of my own worth is tied up with him and this idealization of our relationship. So it IS very threatening for me to see that being jeopardized. And I hate it. You are right, he is in total denial. He actually thinks and says he is still sober. I’m trying to figure out what you mean by me having to “carry all of the shame” for both of us. We both believed for a long time we were the perfect couple. Now that this beast has arisen I feel it is kind of up to me to maintain our little charade of perfection and perfect unity. And this charade was built to hide our shame? There is also lots more going on but I should leave that to therapy maybe. It feels really complex and weird to reveal this on this public forum but there it is. I still am not certain what you mean but those are my thoughts. And I really appreciate your thoughtful question.

        • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

          Yes, I think the “charade of perfection and perfect unity” was built to hide shame. Perfect images, of self or of a couple, always do. When I said you had to carry all the shame, I meant this: he sounds like he believes himself to be “fine” now, but you are still an alcoholic. You’re the damaged one, not him.

          • KT says:

            Ahh…well I have to think about this. He does think I’m wrong about him. Once he called me a “prude” for thinking his drinking is an issue and I thought “dude I’m just a drunk like you”. I can see his obsession from a mile away. I know it well. So I’m not sure he thinks of me as damaged (he seems to idealize me a lot so this could be threatening to him). But he is definitely defending his drinking very strongly and I definitely feel like I am burdened. I know we both feel like damaged goods. Thanks again Dr. B. I didn’t know I could compensate you for your insights. If I have another “therapy question” I will email you directly and pay you for your expertise. This has given me lots to think about. I feel like it is therapeutic. Is there a line where you feel like your services are being taken advantage of a bit? Would you let someone know if you feel they have crossed the line of trying to milk you for free therapy on this site? What is that line? Just wondering.

      • KM says:

        I don’t think that shame is the only reason for periods of anger that could be classified as hatred. I also am with someone who drinks and this is a problem for me… his drinking and associated behaviors have led me to feelings of hatred (by your definition) but the reasons are not shame per say. It has much more to do with betrayal, fear of what is to come, loneliness, and hurt. I do not feel ashamed even down deep, I just feel betrayed and hurt, alone, afraid of what my future holds, and angry because I have choices i don’t want to make. I want the person i have loved, I miss that person and however irrationally, i blame him for making choices that have hurt me, hurt him, and hurt us. hmmm… maybe I do feel ashamed for feeling the way i do about him and his choices and for being angry/hateful, and maybe that contributes toward my feeling angry/hateful towards him but it isn’t the only reason and it wasn’t the original reason – but yes it did compound my feelings.

        • KT says:

          I have to say I agree with you KM. I think the shame is mixed in with a lot of fear of losing my husband and best friend. I also have lots of sorrow and grief. Thanks for your post.

  5. Sandy Weiner says:

    I learned so much from you today about the difference between hatred and anger. I wasn’t familiar with the term ‘splitting’, and I think it was the first time I was able to admit out loud that I had hatred for people that I love. It was kind of refreshing to admit it and be okay with it. No shame. These are ‘normal’ feelings.

    I agree with you about couples setting guidelines for how to behave in anger. I am a big believer in preventative conversations, to preempt anything that may arise when the stakes are high. That paves the way for less guessing and mind reading.

    Thanks again for being my guest on Courageous Conversations radio today!

    Sandy

  6. Jodi says:

    Thanks for the “f-bombs” in this post. It gave me a chuckle.

    I recently encountered a transference reaction to someone that made me literally want to explode with hatred on them. It must take some real Zen Buddha skills to contain that!

  7. Warren says:

    In my view, the nomenklatura using propaganda to bestow collective hatred upon the great unwashed is never useful, one only has to see Nazi Germany, the Congo during the later half of the 20th century, and contemporary America. It produces an ideological delusion that sees most people sleep walking around in idiocy refusing to examine what they believe and why.

    But what then, are the coordinates of this toxic shame you speak about? The fundamental shame of the unloved infant, who, as an adult, finds that their sense of self worth can be stripped bare, and when they look inside themselves, find that they experience no objective core of self worth, a nihilistic realisation that people without toxic shame never reach, because they are not so readily stripped of a sense of self worth?

    And why, I wonder now, should a return to that shame be ever so potent. Don’t we have other efficiencies, determinations, investments and self identity that have their own psychical gravity, can toxic shame cut through this adult modelling and preening to render us incompetent. Are there not other possibilities lurking beneath hatred, or in the least, is not shame just a number of determinations?

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      I see what you mean about the perils of propaganda, and I agree about how he effectively neutralizes thought. But I don’t think I’d go so far as to say it’s never useful.

  8. Rhonda says:

    Dr. Burgo, thank you for addressing hatred in relationships. My husband and I went through a relationship crisis when he felt hatred and flooding emotionally. I became intensely vulnerable but, felt a surge of adrenaline to confront the issues behind the feelings and talk and feel it together not as individuals. Time had to pass before this occured and I believe our underlying understanding of each other enabled us to wait before talking. I bought a book I don’t Want To Talk About it. It dealt with Male Depression but, the case studies and family therapy theme was applicable to both of us. My husband read it too (he had to stop reading on the subway as he said he couldn’t stop the tears and I too let out a lot of feeling at home). The book enabled us to share our feelings and The hatred and anger turned to shame and guilt. Then we and still are talking about how we feel about one another. A humorous but, revealing comment came out during our process when I told my husband my (inner) four year old hates you. He found it funny how I related that was I felt. I told him it feels like an angry fourteen year old is interacting with a four year old. We are a relationship in progress and realize communication about our feelings is crucial if we want to stay together. The shame I struggle with is large but, I am working on it during the rest of my life. Because my husband has cried in front of me rarely but, especially if we talk about feelings I suspect his shame is large as well and that is what triggered our crisis, gigantic shame. Conversation was the key to getting past the blaming phase and time before the sharing of feelings. The book Why Do I Do That? dealing specifically with hatred and abivilance was a topic of conversation with my husband as it was new . He is waiting for free time to read the book.

    Thank You for sharing your text book. I feel like you are teaching us theory so we can understand in a way therapists don’t usually spend time on. In fact I don’t think they would in a therapy session. I am the type that needs to know so that I can apply the information with insight.

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      “The hatred and anger turned to shame and guilt.”

      That’s a very important transformation — a deeply painful one but it makes real growth possible. It sounds like you and your husband are doing some amazing work together!

      • KT says:

        Thanks Rhonda, this post really helped me see that there is a path that can lead to growth in my relationship. Hopefully I can become this honest with my husband and we can come to a point of even deeper understanding and grow together. I think we are both capable of it. The hatred and anger can turn to shame and guilt. Yeah! I hope there is some relief a little further down the road too!

  9. Dawn says:

    I want to ask a question re: this topic and went to PayPal, but I don’t understand where I am suppose to ask the question…the email portion of PayPal is only 300 characters. Please advise.

  10. Michele Carter-Buxton says:

    I’ve finally just ordered your book. Can’t wait. I’m working with parents at the moment and giving parent coaching classes here in the UK. I spend so much time searching for the one phrase that might really be heard, so that parents don’t give up on improving their relationships with their kids and partners/ex partners/grandparents. I’m sure your book is going to help too.
    Interesting post on anger/hatred.

  11. Calli says:

    I listened to the BlogTalkRadio show and it was interesting. One of the points that came up was bullying. You briefly mentioned that bullying does have lasting impacts but didn’t expand. I agree with you. It really was hard for me to believe in the whole ‘it get’s better’ campaign. In my personal experience, those that are bullied as children and teens may carry feelings of inadequacy, having a ‘victim mentality’, not being able to or knowing when to ask for help (sometimes kids may hide that they are bullied and try to solve the problem themselves, they believe that they are all alone and that they can take care of themselves), they have a hard time being vulnerable in relationships, they may lack age appropriate social skills or they may walk around with a chip on their shoulders for a very long time. It seems to me that the bully may come out on the greener side- later in life they may be more assertive, more confident and have better social skills then the bullied ‘nerd. Maybe a few upcoming posts can focus on the bully, the bullied, and the lasting impacts on the bullied.

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Thanks, Calli, and I agree with what you say. There’s going to be a whole chapter about bullying in my next book on shame. I’ll give some thought to the psychology of the bully.

  12. Evan says:

    Hi Joseph,

    For me this way of distinguishing doesn’t work.

    Rage can be more intense than hatred. And anger can last a long time too (if the danger/insult persists).

    My feeling is that the difference needs a qualitative dimension. Unfortunately I can’t figure out what it is. Something to do with resentment?

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Hi Evan, I think of rage as a very intense form of hatred that tends to be explosive and short-lived. If anger lasts a long time, I think it evolves into hatred. I don’t mean to sound definitive about any of this … just thinking aloud.

  13. Gordon says:

    I think hatred and anger may be caused by not fully understanding the reasons why our expectations where not met.
    I was hurt badly by someone and the biggest frustration for me is not knowing the reasons why he did it. Maybe I unconsciously tell myself that I was deserving of such treatment because I am defective in some way and then anger becomes the psychic-glue for my conscious mind.

  14. Odi et Amo says:

    Thank you for this post Joseph,
    coming from an extremely dysfunctional, shame based family, i frequently find myself forming relationships (both personal & work related) where hatred rears it’s soul destroying head sooner or later… very stressful, sad, overwhelming and painful.
    Your discussions on shame and defence mechanisms are so good to read!

  15. Matthew says:

    Gabor Mate wrote some very insightful descriptions of anger and hatred, starting with his book “When the body says no”. He actually differentiated them clearly (though some of it is semantics), saying that hatred is more an anxiety response, whereas when a “deeper” anger is felt, related to healthy boundaries, there’s actually some relaxation going on, like a surrender to the process of standing up for something important.

    He also said in relationships that resentment (which can turn into hatred) builds up when we sacrifice our basic sense of self. A famous quote of his is “when you have to choosebetween resentment and guilt, choose guilt every time”.

  16. Fear is the mother of anger and hatred.

  17. Orange says:

    Wow! How exciting for me that this is one of those topics that I’ve spent years thinking about :-). I have always felt that I very much had a choice to make, at around 12 or 13; whether to nurture my anger, thereby growing it into continuous and expressed hatred; or to feel the pain of anger even more keenly, letting it cause painful self-questioning and possibly conscious self-hatred. I chose the latter.

    I very much related to the way this was expressed in the movie “Star Wars”. I know you love psychology in movies, so I would, of course, love to hear your interpretation of the famous discussion of the dark side of the force that Vader and Skywalker had. To me, Darth Vader made a very valid point, or at least one that was truthful for him, when he said that embracing the anger and fear, i.e. turning to the dark side, made the force more powerful within him. Indeed, if Vader never had to contend with self-doubt because, like any good narcissist, he would have limitless energy and belief in his own magnificence to draw upon; all at a deep cost to those around him. Here we have why narcissists can be very effective at what they do…its all in the force :-)…and I suppose why having some of those traits helps healthy people succeed. Skywalker chooses instead to let his father’s hatred, and the source of it, (the emperor? scary guy in a hood?) harm him. To me, the fantasy sequence begins here, where Vader lets the love for his son in, and fights the source of his own hatred in order to defend his dear child. He then renounces the dark side and joins with Luke on his “deathbed”.
    Unfortunately, for me at least, choosing the light side has never resulted in any rush to my defense; it has, instead, meant always living with the knowledge that my other family members cannot see that there was, and still is, a choice to be made. I very much felt I could give in to my father, Darth Vader of course, by allowing him to inflict further pain and discord on me and my family, or, I could essentially forsake him and not allow those interactions to occur in the first place. My mother always said I had very black and white thinking; that I couldn’t see the grey. I was always begging her to leave. In recent years, however, I’ve come to believe that it was actually she who was suffering from the black and white thinking. To her, it had to be entirely black for leaving to be justified. If a shred of grey or white remained, so she remained. She continues to do so today.

    I grew up in a home where, contrary to today’s cultural pressure, anger and hatred were encouraged and nurtured That and cooking. I’m still a heck of a cook. My mother was sure that always expressing the anger was the right choice; she’d grown up around too much repressed anger. So she raged and rehashed decades worth of unresolved and unrepented nasty deeds back at my father, who simply continued to do nasty deeds. My father would encourage my sister and I to hate and fear the communists who were coming for us at any moment. We were on the watch for flashing lights that might mean a nuclear attack coming in the night sky, and looking out for yellow rain, that would actually be nerve poison. I would take my anger out on my poor little sister; screaming at her and kicking her, hitting her. I so clearly remember my father coaching me; get her there, now get her here. I hated my sister.

    I had to make the choice then, not to beat up my sister; choose the light side, and refuse to let my life revolve around this man. Hey, I’m thankful that I was able to see and make the choice, but it sure does leave behind some internal wreckage. Its a wonder that my sister forgave me so readily.

    So far, reading your book, it seems that splitting is something I do alot of. Not a shocker really, but, then I’m left wondering if I split so much, why do I feel conscious ambivalence about so much; always seeing the many sides of issues and their emotional anchors. Sometimes I think life would be simpler if I could just pick a team, join up, drink the kool-aid (not quite) and somehow not face all of these things by myself. I have my little team though…me and hubbie and our two kiddos.
    I have found a good psychiatrist, who I’m doing psychotherapy with, and who is helping tremendously…we haven’t talked about splitting yet :-).

    Thanks for another thoughtful post!

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Great analysis of the Star Wars movies. I’ve thought the very same thing about love and hatred as played out in Darth Vader’s psyche. It’s a challenge for all of us to turn away from “big and powerful” feelings like hatred toward shame and grief instead.

  18. Fiona says:

    Hello Joseph,

    Interesting article as usual.

    One thought/question – where does rage fit in the spectrum, or does it? is it the same as hatred?

    From my own experience it’s difficult to admit to hatred but paradoxically it also diminishes when it’s ‘owned’. I can remember having intense hatred for a former group therapist – I felt she was ignoring me. She was paying more attention to some of the more emotionally intelligent/ articulate members of the group (naturally enough I guess). I wanted to ‘get her’ so my method of ‘getting’ her was to constantly question everything she said – mostly i was talking nonsense but I didn’t care. I think at one point the poor woman may even have to take some time off, partly at least because of my behavior.

    I’m ashamed of this now but i also have have compassion for my ‘old’ self who was in such pain. I think I’ve changed sufficiency that i wouldn’t do that again…hope so anyway.

    perhaps compassion and understanding of the terrible pain that can drive us to behave in such reprehensible ways is the best remedy for hatred
    i think it’s socially taboo to admit to hating anyone

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Hi Fiona, I think of rage as a type of hatred that tends to be an outburst or a “tantrum,” but hatred can also be an enduring state. In either case, it tends to overwhelm our other feelings and dominate us, as you found.

      I agree — it is socially taboo to admit to hating anyone (except Hitler, child molesters and rapists).

  19. Graceful Swallow says:

    Interesting post. The idea that certain expressions of hatred should be completely off limits seems like all or nothing thinking. That in and of itself might cause me to feel shame, simply because I had the thoughts and could not share them.

    A couple of things. First, for me, when hateful thoughts come up around my partner or any other relationship or issue, I usually air them out first with my support system. These people can help me diffuse the energy and figure out what is really going on for me (usually some shame issue). Then, if necessary after speaking with my “people” (perhaps a therapist included), I can re-approach my mate with the real issue and discuss what’s going on with me and between us.

    Second, in some cases my partner or I might choose to share these hateful feelings directly – if we are in an acknowledged safe zone. We might beable to say something like, “I don’t understand what is going for me, but right now I want you to fuck off!” and then talk further about it. If my partner or I can express that to each other, it offers new pathways for growth and a deepening of our connection. However, I would monitor how often such “hateful” feelings come up for myself or partner. Too much might bode of serious difficulties between us.

  20. RaeC says:

    Your post on anger and hatred caught my attention because my therapist says I am angry, yet this is not a feeling I have had. She lied to me about an important issue, and when I called her on it, she dismissed it and said I was angry. How does a person handle this?

  21. Jon T 7-7-7 says:

    Ya. I agree. Anger and hatred have to do with fight or flight and the sympathetic nervous system, the prolonged stress the over triggering is causing, and how much combined triggering is happening at once as well is the clients overall physical health, and ability to balance the fascia.

    Thus if a therapeutic session lasts 7 months – 2 years and the client is under a lot of stress the least the therapist could do is send a couple emails here and there, and be kind to the client. This will at least take stress from the emotional component as a result of shame, guilt, off the client. The client did pay a bit of money to therapist, and did bring a little bit of experience and learning to the therapists’ practice.

    Johannes Pomegranate was right in claiming it is not ethical for a therapist to “fire” a client, and Jon was right when he claimed the therapist was “self-serving”.

    When peoples’ sympathetic nervous systems are prolonged for too long they can make life changing moves for better or for worse. If it is for better the therapist will be sure to take the credit even if it wasn’t intended and call the client un-appreciative, or if it is for worse they can refer the client to the psyche ward or call the police.

    Love is a different topic and sometimes I like to just accept love for what it is and not question it even if it never returned.

  22. a reader says:

    I was angry with my friend;
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe;
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.
    -William Blake
    Alas, not all friends bear to be told, but pay back anger tenfold. But there are some good therapists out there ( and some not so good), that can be told. And there are diaries, which can be very useful, silently accepting every word one writes.

    “A small pot, and soon hot” may turn out to be quite large, once it is emptied of old pains, traumas and miseries.

  23. lisa says:

    Very good post and comments. I associate my angers with my anxiety and lack of self esteem.
    I relieve these feelings by removing myself from many situations which isolate me but prevents
    my rage to rear. I find it funny that this anger is also silently born against my therapist when
    we touch or don’t touch on feelings.

  24. Christine says:

    Hi Joseph,
    I was wondering if you could write up about M.I, as in motivational interviewing, basically about how this can become manipulative towards the client also what negative side effects it can have on the client, during and of course after therapy, additional if you could add, if a client was to ask the therapist direct questions to do with the therapy and or treatment as a professional is it the right of the client for the therapist to answer the questions put to them or to feign silence, which I believe to be manipulative in it self,
    I write this comment under your post hate and anger as these are the feelings for me that keep switching back and forth towards a previous counsellor of mine,
    Kind regards,

    Christine

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      Christine,

      I’m not sure what motivational interviewing is. Silence in the face of a direct question is often the response of someone trained in a psychoanalytic method, but I agree that it’s manipulative not to answer. Why not just say something real like, “I understand why you ask that question, but for right now, would it be all right if I didn’t answer it? I think it would be more productive if we talked about what you imagine to be true.”

      • Christine says:

        Hi Joseph,
        Thank you for your response, that is actually how I would answer a direct question also, Motivational Interviewing is an approach focusing on resolving and exploring ambivalence and centers on motivational processes within the individual that facilate change, well suposeingly lol, through my experience of this approach I found it to be manipulative, patronizing and all most child like, that left me with more concerns and issues levying therapy than I did going into it, May I ask you Joseph what does it mean if the spirit or essence is gone in a therapy setting that is, I have an idea myself, but would like to hear it from some one in this profession,
        Once again I thank you,
        Christine

        • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

          I’m not sure what you mean, Christine — “what does it mean if the spirit or essence is gone in a therapy setting.” It probably means the therapy has reached an impasse and it’s time to move on.

  25. Christine says:

    In Motivational Interviewing if the spirit or essence is gone out of this type of therapy
    means that it may and can become manipulative towards the client, the fact that the therapist/counsellor has become to caught up in the theories,techniques and skills that they are thought to apply in addition to be competent in applying Hense the spirit/essence has been gone awhile unknown to the counsellor as he or she had been to caught up in his practice, that through my own experience did not consent to this kind of therapy only to experience a negective out come to this that is still with me in my day to day life after therapy
    Not only for me was it manipulative, patronising and almost child like I honestly believe that this type of therapy should not be used on clients that have come from an abusive manipulative relaetionship, it leads one to leave the therapy with more issues than one had to begin with.

  26. Matt says:

    After suffering years of oppression by a boss with narcissistic personality disorder, having to tolerate him, and see him destroy the business despite everyone’s efforts, a few of us eventually got to “destroy” him, we took our time, gathered evidence, procured resources and finally took action. Everything at once, the tax man, the companies he defrauded, the hundreds of thousands he stole from his ex wife, the infidelity with his current partner (victim?) all came out at once, we all handed our resignations in on the same day, two of us set up our own business, two already had jobs, and we helped the others find employment.

    We all take the view that this was justice, and one of the most satisfying things we’ve ever done, he got his cumuppance, and finally has to live with the consequences of his actions, house, car and boats have been taken away, he’s lost his partner, his business was shut down, he’s facing prison for fraud, “friends” he thought he had don’t exist.

    So was it anger, no, it was hatred for the way we were all treated, and from that anger sprung justice, and now a new start, EVERYONE apart from him is in a better position, earning more, happier, safer, away from him. Anger and destruction brought happiness and justice, so it’s not a bad thing.

    • Joseph Burgo, Ph.D. says:

      I think that hatred is sometimes the appropriate feeling and in your case, putting it into action seems to have been a very constructive, positive experience. I guess we need to distinguish blind, impulsive rage from the very thoughtful approach you and your colleagues took. Very admirable.

      • Oonagh says:

        I think Mats story is fascinating as so often the bully is rarely confronted by a group of targets. I prefer to say targets prefer not victims cos really the bully targets certain people – usually people who have much to offer. How RARE It is that a group of individuals surrounding the bully, organise themselves and take action!
        Joe, you mentioned writing about the psychology of the bully. I am very interested in the psychology of the group surrounding the bully. often both targets and non targets concur bullying is
        taking place but in my experience rarely do the group of individuals cohesive together to take action as described above ?

        surrounding the bully -

        targeted and non-targets will often confirm what they see
        happening to targets – all this over coffee breaks, corridor tete
        a tetes but so often to the detriment of the target of the day

  27. Oonagh says:

    Hi Joseph
    I just read this and find it so interesting that when I ‘log in’ – the topics seem to match my reality of the day!!!
    I would be interested on a view of my current situation. I am back in analysis the past year having done one before. I like and trust my analyst implicitly. I am not an easy client but he helps me a lot – is wise up to my antics of resistance, trying to test his limits etc and I have matured and grown a lot since attending him. He is part of a psychoanalytic group who organise seminars for clinicians and members of the public with an interest in p/a. Last Autumn I attended a few of the public seminars. Attendance at some clinical seminars require an invitation or that you request permission to attend – for reasons of confidentiality and sensitivity as clinical case study papers are discussed. I work in the area as a clinician so I sent an email requesting permission to attend one stating my occupation, reason for interest etc. 4 days later I received an email giving permission for me to attend. I did attend several of these over the past few months since. All okay so far.

    Some further background: once I began attending the seminars I realised they were quite a close knit group – ie I discovered some work with my analyst in a hospital department, that someone was a patient of my analyst, supervisor relationships etc etc. I did not disclose who my analyst is – I did not know most of the people there and I felt sensitive about my analyst and wanted to keep the analytic relationship separate from the ‘who’s who’ chat at coffee breaks etc. Fine if some others wished to talk about who their analysts were. After one seminar, I asked my analyst in next session if anyone knew I was attending HIM… that I didn’t want people to know who my analyst is. ( I find it can get tricky anyway with strong transferences we all have with our analysts – in a gathering of analysts and analysands – it can get tricky. I joke, half in earnest – you don’t really know ‘who’ you are talking to in these environments – ie if I say something notable to Joe about Mary – and then it transpires that Mary is Joe’s analyst, then Mary may hear about what I said about her from Joe in his session etc etc. Also I may not like a particular analyst or know something quite negative about him/her – I don’t do ‘bitching/gossip’ lightly to people I don’t know well, (I try not to bitch/gossip generally but do occasionally) – because I might unwittingly be saying something horrible about ‘Mary’ to ‘Joe’ and that could be very hurtful/painful for ‘Joe’ if ‘Mary’ is his analyst. So best ‘zip it’ when you don’t know who is in what relationship with who!!!). ANYWAY – I have a feeling that two colleagues of my analyst KNOW he is my analyst. I ‘feel’ he has told them (they are organising committee members with him). My analyst responds ‘no, it’s confidential’ – not sure I fully believe him but clarify I don’t want ‘them’ to know. Of the his two colleagues I had suspected of knowing who my analyst was, one was very sweet and friendly to me, the other was quite cool and unfriendly. Ironically both attitudes towards me – from two people I don’t know – alerted my antennae that they knew who my analyst is!! Too complex to explain this and not so relevant to the question here.

    As time went on, the second colleague was unquestionably hostile and quite rude to me. I had assisted this individual, via email, with a p/a document as the committee had requested assistance from attendees at the seminars with concerning a promotional event. Yet despite a lot of hard work on my part ( I am interested member of the public not a member of this group) this person did not even as much as nod in my direction at the next seminar. A few anti-social gestures in my direction and I just decided this person was rude. After time I suspected I was a target of narcissistic projections. One day the penny dropped – I am fairly sure she is narcisstic, is big into the ‘men’ including my analyst and again – I had a sudden and clear ‘knowing’ -she knows who my analyst is….he told her…. THIS is why I am a target of her narcissism….

    Wondering if really I was the narcissist and possibly paranoid, mad and any other amount of charming traits – I told my analyst ‘You TOLD her that I am in analysis with you and you fibbed to me about that too…’

    It was a risk, but I was fairly certain of my intuitive ‘knowing’. YES was the answer. (WOW – so I wasn’t crazy, paranoid after all). He said ‘when you first asked me, I hadn’t told her….since then you requested permission to attend the clinical studies….she asked me if I knew you, so I told her…… many people are refused permission to attend….’

    Now maybe you will think I am delusional but I TRULY trust my analyst even still. This is the gist of what he explained (after outrage on my part, mostly against the narcissist – ie anger at my therapist but hate for the narcissist):

    The ‘committee’ for ethical and clinical confidentiality reasons need to know who is attending the clinical case seminars – ie they only want p/a orientated clinicians attending these more sensitive seminars. The colleague had received my request, she works with my analyst, so she asked him if he knew me. He told her yes and that I am his analysand-patient. He does not know if she disclosed this detail to the sub-committee who decide who is permitted to attend.( my analysts colleague is on the sub-committee, my analyst is not on it). So my analyst cannot tell me if only his colleague knows I am his patient or if the entire sub-committee has also been informed.

    Another piece – I trust my analyst. I believe he was being kind and very well intentioned in ‘vouching’ for me to his sub-committee colleague – ie as ‘many don’t get permission to attend’ – he would know that vouching for me would ensure I could attend. But I have argued with him that a) he should have checked with me first if that was ok with me and b) that surely he could have just confirmed I was ‘qualified’ to attend and not disclose his relationship to me? Anyway while a bit peeved he told one person – I am not really too bothered by that in itself – ie for some bizarre reason, I am thinking ‘if he wanted to tell some colleague he is my analyst – ok, if he needs to confide in someone’ but its NOT OK to tell someone ala my independent request to attend. I believe the sub-committee should have come back to me following my request to attend and ASKED ME – to nominate my clinical supervisor or if I wished, my analyst to recommend my attendance ie if such is required. It was all very clandestine and I feel outraged by it all really. Just angry but forgiving of my analyst because I know his breach of confidentiality was meant in good faith.

    My rage (hate) is at the group – How dare they have a system that invites non-members to attend etc only to be making clandestine, behind doors enquiries about the non-members of the public who pay and attend their seminars. It seems like an abuse of the non-members to me. Also, I have told my analyst I am of the firm opinion his colleague is a narcisstic (I KNOW narcissists having had a NPD mother and some siblings) – that she was never particularly friendly to me (so what??) but she became most definately hostile, after what I now know, is the time she learned who my analyst is. Just as the other colleague became very ‘sweet’ to me. I told my analyst I could forgive the faux pas of breaching my confidentiality at the level of my being his analysnd (not any other level of breach) BUT his well intentioned faith was placed in the wrong hands – ie his colleague, the narcissist just showed with her ‘body’ – attitude, body language etc that she KNEW he is my analyst. The question I said was also – why did he not tell me he had disclosed this to her for his stated reasons etc. but I reckon he made an error, thought I would never find out and well – he snookered himself. I have stated that my ‘knowing’ and his not telling me initially could be quite ‘crazy making’ for me – I had told him I found her problematic etc and he never told me she knows he is my analyst until I pushed this with him. I also believe with the same ‘knowing’ that the ‘sweet’ colleague knows and has also gossiped to someone else about this. I am hugely perceptive and intuitive and have decided I can trust my intuition on this one – I can hardly believe much of what my analyst says about it – he seems to be making it up as he goes along – but he just made an error. His biggest error is not recognising his trusted colleague is a devious narcisstic. So I believe anyway. OF course as I throw all this at him, my anger at him, my HATRED for the narcissist – I start to think I am destroying my good object (in him) but also that I AM THE NARCISSIST trying to destroy a possibly good object in his working life – his colleague.

    This is such.a. head. wreck. But surely, these breaches of confidentiality and thus of my right to privacy, integrity and respect are sufficient reason to be angry with him, but also enraged by the narcissist who used the information so badly for me??

    I am doing a better analysis with this guy than any analysis or therapy before. He can take my rage and help me to separate out my stuff to work with from the ‘external’ events. I have written a firm email to the sub-committee. Now that I know I was right about the narcissist knowing who my analyst is – I have the measure of her and she no longer enrages me – she has totally picked on the wrong person here. Once I identify I have been snared by a narcissist ( and I spot it quicker each successive time…) I can cut the chord and the narcissist can’t get to me, project anything into me etc. I am a one hell of an adversary in these situations. I told my analyst he should just tell his narcissist colleague that I am a nut job, not very bright and that will steer her away from me – she will need to find someone else to envy instead. As you know, a narcissist doesn’t want to know you if you are perceived to be ‘useless’ to them.

    I kind of understand my analyst too. I cut a pretty impressive picture at many levels in my field. I tend not to get over involved with organisations and just wanted to participate as an interested ‘outsider’ more or less. But I know I evoke interest from others – I have got the smarts at many levels and often can be a target for narcissists. Now I sound like a flipping narcissist again……

    I don’t want to stop analysis with my analyst – he is the best I ever had therapy with. He is very important to me. I can stay away from the seminars.
    Just wondering if anyone has any gut responses to this or feedback.

    Sorry for the long posting. I guess I am pretty upset/disturbed by it all – in no small part, disturbed by my own love/anger/rage for my analyst and contempt for the colleague. Its not a nice feeling.

    cheers..

    • Pomegranite says:

      This 3rd party analyst lady sounds like a jealous skank. Ironically the 3rd party analyst who, other than hearsay, knows only a small amount about this writer based off the information the writer is giving may ultimately destroy this writers’ therapeutic relationship. She foolishly thought her analyst would keep this relationship silent… something quite similar may have happened to me with my therapist where someone came from outside and stole my therapist by essentially brain washing her. It’s a cold chilling world out there and stuff like this happens a lot in the world of therapy.

  28. Oonagh says:

    hi Joseph-
    nothing worse than a long posting such as my one about confidentiality:-( it helped to ‘ put it out there ‘ but please feel free to delete it if it’s way too long and downward
    Short version – just wondering how others here would feel about analyst disclosing he is your analyst to a colleague without consent – ie not for any necessary reason, meant kindly for access to a seminar. It happened to me- I didn’t want his colleague to know. She has been a bit gamey with the information. I am very angry but forgiving of my analyst – is that crazy? I am hating of the colleague who I think is a narcissistic:-(

  29. Oonagh says:

    Thanks Portrait,
    Thank you for your reply. Interesting you think the 3rd analyst is jealous. I have come to that opinion too. At first I couldn’t fathom it – why would she be jealous – of a therapy relationship? That’s pretty disturbed if true and also she has work and social relationship with him – I see him two hours a week! or is it some other jealousy…..Yesterday it struck me with force – it was psychic attack from her and it’s over 10 yrs since I last experienced psychic attack. This may be another word for projectile identification from a disturbed person except her behaviour is also conscious at some level.too. Well.I have recovered and she won’t get far with me now. But it could damage the therapy – my analyst so far won’t concede he should not have told her and we had a difficult session but it was ok overall. He wants me to explore my feelings towards her but I said it won’t be easy unless he acknowledges his role in this difficulty too. Pretty sure at my session tomorrow he will be wondering if I am psychotic when I tell.him about psychic attack! He is unlikely to understand this. He is actually her boss I since discovered- so she probably plays a very different game with him. I was going to withdraw from the seminars but believe this is possibly exactly what she wants. So I am going to one tomorrow night and asserting my right to exist! We’ll see if the analysis will be ok but I totally agree with you – in this case I don’t think she could influence my analyst but it’s the damage to trust ie analyst disclosing my relationship to him and the damage it’s maybe done to my faith in the work.

  30. Oonagh says:

    I mean thanks.Pomegranite – this predictive text messes up big time!!!

  31. Kimberly says:

    I have had an emotional day as I have been feeling a lot of shame today. However, I have been feeling shame about not being able to contain my anger. So which came first the chicken or the egg? In childhood I was bullied and rarely have acknowledged its effects on my patterns. Today I looked at it closely and wrote about it. I remember feeling like it wasn’t me that was wrong but the little girl on the playground who was so popular she was able to get all the other kids to stop talking to me and I never even met her. I’ve recreated those dynamics throughout the decades and fearing a “bad reputation” for one reason or another. I feel more misunderstood though and angry at others’ judgmental attitudes and do feel shame around letting anger leak out through a posture of rejection or know-it-allness. I feel more vulnerable than ashamed. People are scarey to me sometimes. Boy oh boy.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I think you are confusing anger with hatred. I see anger as a short term “trigger” response. So much emotion/anger builds up inside that it comes in a hateful expression of rage. Long term, you don’t hate that person unless they have wronged you deeply. Your statement,
    “With my clients, I’m often struck by how many of them will tell me about fights during which they said to their partners, “Fuck off!” or even “Fuck off and die!” “I hate your fucking guts!” – that sort of thing. I’m of the opinion that we need hard and fast rules for ourselves and our relationship partners: such expressions of hatred should be completely off limits. We may also need a “time out,” to separate from our partners until the acute phase of hatred wanes.”, contradicts the acceptance of anger as a negative emotion. I have a hard time understanding how one can have an honest relationship that does not allow for free expressionn of emotion and the opportunity to forgive, make up and move forward.
    I would love to know your thoughts on this…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This post is password protected. Enter the password to view any comments.