Title: Hatred, The Psychological Descent Into Violence
Author: Willard Gaylin, M.D.
Publisher: Public Affairs Books, New York, NY
Willard Gaylin, M.D., a prominent psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, as well as Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, has written one of
the most important recent books dealing with the etiology of all kinds of hatred, including those that are purely personal, and that may have actual meaning, of the person who hates, as well
as those derived from delusional thought, including (but certainly not limited to), anti-Semitism.
‘Hatred,’ Gaylin explains that hatred can go way beyond a mere emotion; is a psychological disorder – ‘a form of quasi-delusional thinking’ – and requires forming a ‘passionate attachment,’ or an obsessive involvement with a scapegoat population. He continues: ‘It is designed to allow the angry and frustrated individual to disavow responsibility for his/her own
failures and misery by directing it towards a convenient victim.’
Some of the questions Dr. Gaylin has dealt with here are: ‘What conditions are necessary for an individual to succumb to hatred?’, ‘Is hatred a rational response to severe injustice?’, ‘How are mad dictators like Hitler and terrorists like Osama bin Laden able to stir whole societies to subscribe to and abet their hatred?’
This thin volume (paperback, less than 250 pages) is the culminating masterwork of Willard Gaylin’s lifelong study of human emotions, written for an educated lay audience in the same eloquent, but everyday, language of his bestsellers: Feelings and Talk is Not Enough: How Psychotherapy Really Works.’ The author of 16 best-selling books about psychiatry and psychotherapy, and numerous articles in professional and lay publications, Gaylin takes us by the hand by first defining hatred as an emotion, then as a thought disorder, as an ‘attachment,’
and finally explains the various ‘cultures’ of hatred and how they develop.
In a final chapter, simply labeled ‘Confronting Hatred Head-On,’ Gaylin provides his prescriptives of how to deal with such raw emotions, both in ourselves, as well as in others.
This is not a ‘Jewish’ book per se, but Gaylin’s examples in ‘hatred,’ – including the opening chapter that tells how half the population of the small Polish town of Jedwabne murdered their
1,600 Jewish neighbors in July, 1941 – demonstrate that our best way of dealing with racial and group hatred is to expose it for what it is and to dissect it, clinically, to learn how to deal with the emotional poison and the people who have become infected.
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