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Hate or hatred is an emotion of intense revulsion, distaste, enmity, or antipathy for a person, thing, or phenomenon; a desire to avoid, restrict, remove, or destroy its object. The emotion is often stigmatized; yet it serves an important purpose, as does love. Just as love signals attachment, hatred signals detachment.

In psychology, Sigmund Freud defined hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness[1]. In a more contemporary definition, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a "deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object."[2] Because hatred is believed to be long-lasting, many psychologists consider it to be more of an attitude or disposition than a (temporary) emotional state.

Hatred can be based on fear of its object, justified or unjustified, or past negative consequences of dealing with that object. Hatred is often described as the opposite of love or friendship; others, such as Elie Wiesel, consider the opposite of love to be indifferent. See love-hate relationship.

Often "hate" is used casually to describe things one merely dislikes, such as a particular style of architecture, a certain climate, a movie, one's job, or some particular food.

"Hate" or "hatred" is also used to describe feelings of prejudice, bigotry or condemnation (see shunning) against a person, or a group of people, such as racism, and intense religious or political prejudice. The term hate crime is used to designate crimes committed out of hatred in this sense.

Sometimes people, when harmed by a member of an ethnic or religious group, will come to hate that entire group. The opposite situation occurs too, where an entire group hates a single person (see shunning). Some consider this to be socially unacceptable--Western culture, for example, frowns on collective punishment and insists that people be treated as individuals rather than members of groups. Others view such generalizing behavior as rational and indeed, necessary in order to ensure group survival in the face of competing groups or individuals who often have differing points of view.

Hate is often a precursor to violence. Before a war, a populace is sometimes trained via political propaganda to hate some nation or political regime. Hatred remains a major motive behind armed conflicts such as war and terrorism. Hate is not necessarily logical and it can be counterproductive and self-perpetuating.

Neurobiology of hate

The neural correlates of hate have been investigated with an fMRI procedure. In this experiment, people had their brains scanned while viewing pictures of people they hated. The results showed increased activity in the medial frontal gyrus, right putamen, bilaterally in the premotor cortex, in the frontal pole, and bilaterally in the medial insula of the human brain. The researchers concluded that there is a distinct pattern of brain activity that occurs when people are experiencing hatred.[3]

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  1. Freud, S. (1915). The instincts and their vicissitudes.
  2. Reber, A.S., & Reber, E. (2002). The Penguin dictionary of psychology. New York: Penguin Books.
  3. Zeki, S. and Romaya, J.P. (October 29, 2008) "Neural Correlates of Hate", PLoS ONE 3(10):e3556 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003556. Accessdate=2008-11-06