Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are Some People Destined to Be HATERS? It Seems So!

Image put up on a hater's blog some time after Obama was re-elected.

The issue of people who compulsively hate, everything and virtually everyone (including family members, siblings, relatives) is a puzzle that has confounded psychology for many decades. Why is it some people are loving and nurturing almost from birth, and others are terrifyingly hateful - spewing venom and invective with almost every communication?

It appears Scientists believe they've discovered the answer to one of the questions that has plagued societies for millenia: Are haters gonna hate? Researchers have shown that indeed some people have a disposition to hate everything.

But this isn't really that novel, and Harvey A. Hornstein in his monograph: 'Cruelty & Kindness: A New Look At Aggression and Altruism' revealed the psychological basis for compulsive hatred more than three decades ago. He actually tied it to a very specific character profile.

Hornstein' research exposed what he called the "necrophilious character" - basically a lover of death, war, fighting and mayhem. He relishes death, dead bodies, broken limbs and worships any act that engenders them from war to mass shootings. He prides himself on a false machismo and often may have had military service, but oddly not on any front lines, more in the back - say as a cook or supply person. But that doesn't seem to matter. He proudly declares himself a "real man" (not any "sissy") because he has been near to death and isn't afraid. By his narrative he'd have you believe he'd have slaughtered all the Viet Cong single-handedly if he'd had the chance.

In truth, he loves the necrotic. As Hornstein put it (p. 34):

"They are passionately attracted to all that is harsh, dead, and decaying - and have a desire to transform that which is alive to that which is not alive."

They also detest with a passion anyone who is "biophilous" (a lover of life and service, volunteering etc) because they are seen to be "weaker" compared to the sort of people they admire: the cruel, the merciless, the heartless, the racially bigoted, and  the overall intolerant  (of "ragheads", "gooks", "apes", "homos", women - dissed as "c*nts" - and anyone else too different from themselves. This led Erich Fromm, for example, to classify humans into two groups: the biophils and necrophils. The former would tend to a constructive bent and go into professions that are life affirming, including teaching, medicine and the like. If they serve they'd choose a non-militaristic form such as Peace Corps. The latter would go into forms of work that often demean or demean others: prison guards, military and the like or sign on as torturers, say to waterboard prisoners or rendition them.

The most hateful and necrophilous characters chose to destroy only for the sake of destruction and became like the recently convicted Sgt. Robert Bales -  who massacred innocent Afghan women and children - or a mass killer like Andrew Brevik, or a serial killer, say like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy.

Hornstein went on to point out (ibid.) that these necrophilious people - since they detested altruism, benevolence and concern for others - would never volunteer for anything life affirming  -whether Peace Corps, or even helping out at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. In fact, because of their hatred, they'd rather see anyone they regarded as inferior or non-human as dead.  More likely, they'd volunteer to drop bombs on hapless civilians in foreign lands, or as Bill Maher once put it: "blow up any country with too many brown, black or yellow people". Then, on coming home, they'd pound their chests and declare themselves "patriots".

Early childhood experience, according to Hornstein, often also imprints its permanent necrophil character mark. For example,  if as a child the vulnerable little person was battered, paddled or strapped, he'd likely absorb the hatred perceived in the authoritarian disciplinarian and begin to adopt the authoritarian bearing himself. This bearing and attitude would then  be displayed as hatred toward anyone viewed to "need discipline" such as: free thinkers, hippies, women's liberation proponents,  civic protestors, MJ smokers (or just MJ law proponents) or anyone prepared to use their own minds as opposed to merely following orders.

The worst case would be for the more formative necrophil to find himself in a situation where either he was subjected to constant abuse (say in a military boot camp) or he assumed authority to mete it out on others.

Hornstein, alas, saw no way out for these haters because in the end  their only putative solution, love, was also denied to them. They saw everyone only as an enemy, except maybe their closest family members.  According to both Hornstein and Fromm, until love and tolerance entered the lives of haters, human hatred would remain an inescapable part of human life.

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