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In day-to-day use, hatred is a violent feeling that impels the subject to wish another person ill and to take pleasure in bad things that happen to that person.

In "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" (1915c), Sigmund Freud wrote that the primal structure of hatred reflects the relationship to the external world that is the source of stimuli: "At the very beginning, it seems, the external world, objects, and what is hated are identical" (p. 136). The determining factor is thus the relationship to unpleasure. Freud thus asserted that "Hate, as a relation to objects, is older than love" (p. 139), for this feeling originates in the ego's self-preservation instincts rather than in the sexual instincts (although later on hatred can bind with the latter to become "sadism"). It can be inferred from this that "hatred is a kind of self-preservation, to the extent of destroying the other, while loving is a way . . . of making the other exist," as Paul-Laurent Assoun expressed it in Portrait métapsychologique de la haine: Du symptôme au lien social (Metapsychological portrait of hatred: from symptom to the social bond; 1995).

This emotion that aims to destroy thus seems to be radically opposite to love. But as Roger Dorey underscored in "L'amour au travers de la haine" (Love through hatred; 1986), there are deep affinities between the two: Not only does hatred precede love, but no doubt there is love only because there is hatred, at the very origin of the person" Indeed, in both "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" and "Negation" (1925h) Freud showed that hatred is not exclusively destructive toward the object: Acting as the first differentiating boundary between inside and outside, it ensures the permanence of that boundary and is its constituting principle. Speaking of the purified pleasure-ego, which places the characteristic of pleasure above all others, Freud wrote in "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" that love "is originally narcissistic, then passes over on to objects, which have been incorporated into the extended ego, and expresses the motor efforts of the ego towards these objects as sources of pleasure" (p. 138).

But prior to the establishment of genital organization, in which love has "become the opposite of hate" (p. 139), the two earliest stages make no distinction between them. The oral stage involves incorporating and devouring the object; in the anal-sadistic stage, "the striving toward the object appears in the form of an urge for mastery, in which injury or annihilation of the object is a matter of indifference" (p. 139). It must be recalled that hatred always expresses the ego's self-preservation instincts and that both the will to power and the urge for mastery originate in hatred; before the genital stage, self-preservation of the ego is precisely what is endangered by the encounter with the object. The love/hate distinction that forms in the genital stage allows them to be linked together, bringing whole persons into being.

If hatred is experienced as the unpleasure derived from the encounter with the "other" that threatens the ego's integrity, the manner of being of this "other" must be reintroduced. With notions involving the determining role, for the baby, of the object, with its expected function as "container" of excitations, "toilet breast," or alpha function, Donald Winnicott, Donald Meltzer, and Wilfred Bion, among others, have shed new light on the treatment of hatred.


See also: Aggressiveness/aggression; Aimée, case of; Ambivalence; Breast, good/bad object; Dead mother complex; Drive/instinct; Ego and the Id, The; Emotion; Erotomania; Frustration; "Instincts and their Vicissitudes"; Love-Hate-Knowledge (L/H/K links); Melancholia; Need for punishment; Negative therapeutic reaction; Negative transference; Object; Object, choice of/change of; Obsessional neurosis; Paranoia; Paranoid position; Persecution; Primary object; Projection; Racism, anti-Semitism, and psychoanalysis; Reversal into the opposite; Rivalry; Self-hatred; Self-mutilation in children; Shame; Splitting of the object; Superego; Transference hatred; Turning around; "Why War?". Bibliography

   * Assoun, Paul-Laurent. (1995). Portrait métapsychologique de la haine: Du symptôme au lien social. Paris: Anthropos.
   * Dorey, Roger. (1986). L'amour au travers de la haine. Nouvelle Revue de psychanalyse, 33, 75-94.
   * Freud, Sigmund. (1915c). Instincts and their vicissitudes. SE, 14: 109-140.
   * ——. (1925h). Negation. SE, 19: 233-239.