Definition, Health Effects, and Why People Hate

Hate can be directed externally — at another person, a group of people, or even a situation or an idea. It can also be directed internally, at yourself.

General Hate

Hate that’s directed externally is typically caused by a personal threat or experience that triggers a strong sense of fear, mistrust, loss of power, or vulnerability. The feeling of hatred can be specific or more general. You may hate your alcoholic father because of how he treats you when he’s drinking, or you may hate alcohol in general, because of the role it’s played in your experiences.


“When we become intensely critical of ourselves, we may experience self-hatred, in which the narratives we tell about ourselves are saturated with negativity and contempt,” Carnes explains. Self-hate may arise when you fail to meet expectations you or others have for yourself. It can be based on things like your appearance, your performance at school or at work, or the way you interact and relate with others. It may not have any basis in reality.

Systemic Hate

There are countless situations around the world in which a culture or group views another culture or group as a threat. The feelings of hate aren’t necessarily directed at a specific person, but at the group as a whole. Racism, xenophobia, nativism, anti-semitism, bigotry, and homophobia are examples of systemic hate. “Hate is founded on a diffuse sense that members of a target group are inferior, threatening, or have negative intentions,” says Carnes.

Internalized Hate

Internalized hate is a form of self-hate that arises as a by-product of systemic hate. “Internalized hatred can occur when an individual from a minority community experiences a form of broadly defined hate so pervasively that those perceptions of inferiority become internalized as their own internal narrative,” explains Carnes.

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