Hatred: The Psychological Descent Into Violence
A renowned psychoanalyst offers a clear-eyed, thought-provoking examination of humankind's most destructive emotion, and the seductive power it has to tear our world apart. We all get angry at the built-in frustrations and humiliations of everyday life. But few of us ever experience the intense and perverse hatred that inspires acts of malignant violence such as suicide bombings or ethnic massacres. In Hatred, Dr. Willard Gaylin, one of America's most respected psychiatrists, describes how raw personal passions are transformed into acts of violence and cultures of hatred. Such hatred goes beyond mere emotion. Hatred, Gaylin explains, is a psychological disorder--a form of quasi-delusional thinking. It requires forming "a passionate attachment, " an obsessive involvement with the scapegoat population. It is designed to allow the angry and frustrated individual to disavow responsibility for his own failures and misery by directing it towards a convenient victim. Gaylin dissects the mechanisms by which cynical political and religious leaders manipulate frustrated and deprived people, leading to the acts of mass terror that threaten us all. Step-by-step, he leads us into an understanding of the psychological pathway to acts of terrorism--an understanding that is an essential to survival in a world of hatred. Hatred is a masterwork in Willard Gaylin's life-long study of human emotions. Writing for the educated lay audience in the eloquent, accessible language of his best-sellers Feelings and Rediscovering Love, he takes us to the very roots of hatred. One day, in July 1941, half of the population of Jedwabne, Poland murdered the other half--some 1,600 men, women, and children, representingall but seven of the town's Jews. Before killing them they tortured and humiliated them. They gouged out their eyes with kitchen knives, dismembered them with crude farm instruments, and drowned the women in shallow waters. Infants were pitchforked in front of their mothers and thrown into burning coals, all accompanied by the shrieks of delight, indeed the laughter, of their neighbors. The slaughter of the Jedwabne Jews lasted a whole day. The entire Polish population either witnessed or participated in the torment. Roughly fifty percent of the adult Polish males were later identified by name as active participants. How can one explain such cold passion, such monumental hatred, such cruelty--not on the part of some insane and deranged madman--but by an entire populace in concert, and against the very neighbors who had previously shared their everyday community and life? I do not presume to believe that in the end I, or anyone, will be able to "explain" the Jedwabne massacre. It is incomprehensible. Our minds will not take it in. We cannot recognize such perversity as being explicable within the conditions of human sensibility, any more than we can understand murderers eating the body parts of their victims or men having sex with infants. Still in this amalgam of perversity and horror that permeated the Holocaust and the current Jihads, there are common elements of hatred that are understandable. A suicide bomb directed at a school bus is composed of the everyday elements of nails, wires, and a cheap radio. It is equally composed of anger, despair, self-delusion, cynical manipulation, promise and perversity. It is time to deconstruct the hater the way we deconstruct his weapons. I amnot talking about the socio-political or religious explanations of "cultural differences." I am talking about understanding the raw hatred that delights in the torture and pain of others. What is this pathological hatred? How does it take root in the minds of individuals and become central to certain cultures? We must confront hatred and evil head on. It is a matter of survival.
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