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Love and Hate and Why We Need Both

Can peanut butter be used without jelly?


Do they taste better together?


Well, okay, it depends on your personal preferences but for the most part, one compliments the other. Some say this can be true for emotions as well. Love and hate can exist without the other just fine. However, one can also enhance the other.

You can love chocolate.

Like really love chocolate and even long for it.

You buy chocolate and spend a serious amount of time enjoying this chocolate.

There are times when you go overboard and eat too much chocolate and begin to feel hate for the delicious treat. You feel guilty for eating too much and start blaming the chocolate for having such control over you. Before you know it, you want to get rid of all chocolate makers. You love and hate chocolate at the same time. While this is just a silly example of the very serious emotions of love and hate, you can understand how both can exist within the same situation.

The first step in understanding the dynamics between love and hate is that you must first understand them separately.

Hate Explored

Hate is an emotion that separates us from others.

It’s more than just a feeling. It is an intense version of emotions such as dislike or disgust. It’s like the summit on the mountain of negative feelings.

Some say hate exists to help us distinguish between enemies and friends.

It is also defined as having an intense dislike for something, which can sometimes be a good thing. For instance, we dislike putting toxins into our body. It seems odd that we can make positive decisions based on such a negative emotion. People only eat organic foods because they hate the toxins that are used to process other foods.

We go to wars because we hate how others are being treated.

We use hate as an excuse to protect people. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Unless you look at how hate is recognized in the brain.

There is a place in our brains that is triggered when we feel hate. This has actually been proven by showing pictures to people of things or people they hate. When they see the photo of the person or item they hate, a circuit in the brain activates, similar to the way it would during anger and aggression but this is a totally different circuit.

When this circuit is triggered, bad things can happen.

Hate can lead to very damaging behaviors that can range from talking bad about someone to killing someone. The emotion of hate is like a glaze that comes over you and coats you so that you can’t see if you are doing right from wrong. You make decisions based on anger, frustration, jealousy and every other mad feeling you have. Hate makes you behave in ways you would never behave if you were thinking rationally.

It convinces you to act like a fool and even commit criminal acts when you can’t get your feelings under control.

It is quite concerning that hate is not listed as a disorder in the diagnostic and statistical manual. If it were, then it could be possible to better treat hate, just as a person would treat an addiction or depression. There are diagnoses that skirt around it but are not directly identified as hate.

Diagnoses such as oppositional defiant disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, disruptive or conduct disorders, and anger management.

While hate is not yet recognized as a mental health disorder, it does continue to cause mental health side effects.

Mental Health of Hate

Feelings such as hate can have serious side effects on both physical and mental health.

Chronic stress, depression, and paranoia are a few dangers faced by someone who has hate or associated emotions. Stress has been linked with heart disease and obesity, which also link to depression and anxiety. Depression, if untreated, can lead to physical pains, sadness, intense crying and even suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Paranoia can turn your world upside down.

Paranoid thoughts can take over your mind and control your actions.

If paranoia is combined with negative emotions such as hate, a person can be in serious danger.

Victims and communities are affected by hate.

Believe it or not, communities have a mental health state just like individuals do. On a larger scale, each individual affects the next and then all of their untreated disorders become a collective group’s mental health. This can lead to large scale hate and even hate crimes.

Both sides suffer when this happens.

There are several different forms of hate including racism, homophobia, sexism are just a few. Extreme versions of these types of hate can lead to dangerous crimes and people can get hurt. Dangerous crimes, or hate crimes, can cause serious mental health issues for the hater and the ones being hated.

Hate crimes, for example, can cause anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress in victims.

They can cause an entire community to feel unsafe and create disharmony among large groups. This type of decisiveness can become harmful and prevent communities from banding together in times of need. Hate crimes cause division, not unity. Paranoia, anxiety, distrust and anger are all emotions that come from hate crimes.

Hate crimes are radical versions of a person’s prejudices. Motivations for hate crimes vary.

Some haters are motivated by a thrilling feeling or they are looking for excitement. Others feel like they are being threatened in some way so they become defensive. Some are seeking retaliation and some think it is their mission in life to hate a particular group or idea. All are bad.

It is very important to find ways to let go of hate. It is a major emotion that can tear you down and make you physically sick. Forgiveness, patience, understanding and acceptance are all key to letting go of hate. To reach this goal you must not place importance on the person or thing that triggers your hate.

Distract your negative thoughts and make a solid effort to detach yourself from your specific hate.

Although replacing hate with love would be great, it is not a requirement for releasing hate. Just because you decide to stop hating something, does not mean you have to start loving it. It only means that you are giving yourself the freedom to move on with your life minus the negative emotions.

The fewer negative emotions in your life, there is more room for love.

Love Explored

Love is splendor.

Love is magical.

Love is similar to hate.

Wait. What?

That’s right – love and hate are actually quite similar emotions.

For one, they both can be identified through brain research. Love has scientifically been proven to trigger neurotransmitters and brain chemicals that make us feel good.

Love makes us feel good. Well, that is an understatement.

Love gives us those goose bumps of excitement we yearn for and boosts our self-esteem, making us feel like we can conquer anything. Love sets off the fireworks in our brains and the race cars circling our hearts. It is fascinating that something as big as love can actually be broken down into smaller categories.

Two types of love are compassionate (some call this companionate love) and passionate love.

Compassionate love is based on mutual respect, trust, respect and attachment. Passionate love has all of those too, plus sexual attraction and more intense feelings. Compassionate or companionate love is the kind of love you feel for your family members or for close friends.

You love them and would do almost anything for them but you aren’t going to be kissing them anytime soon.

Passionate love, however, involves kissing and other pleasures with a person you see as much more intimately than a family member or friend. The person you feel passionate love for is the one who can make you feel like you have butterflies in your stomach. Further research confirms the needs of a person to have a fulfilling relationship include passionate love, companionate love and sexual satisfaction.

Helen Fisher of Rutgers has broken love down into three stages that include lust, attraction and attachment.

She states all of these happen because of brain chemicals and hormones. Lust simply involves a person’s sex hormones.

Attraction involves the neurotransmitters of adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin.

Attachment uses the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin. All three of these stages can happen rather quickly in a relationship. It is called the honeymoon phase of the relationship. After the honeymoon phase comes the real work, where two people in a relationship make efforts to continue the lust, attraction and attachment to one another.

Okay, so love is more complicated than originally thought.

What we do know is that love, like any other emotion, has effects on a person’s mental health.

Mental Health of Love

There are studies that suggest love offers better intellectual health, less depression, and better sleep.

Better sleep alone can contribute to positive mental health, including less depression and higher intellect. During sleep the brain heals the body and makes it possible for a person to function properly.

Feeling love has also been known to increase a person’s self-confidence.

Love triggers the dopamine chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. Similar to when you hit the jackpot at the slot machines or when you find out you won an award, those chemicals skyrocket and make you feel great. You want more of that feeling.

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel love all the time?

Yes, but that may be detrimental to our health and mental health to feel love all of the time.

Just like any other thing, we would open ourselves up for love cravings, longing for more, and possibly leading to addiction to love.

Love, just like hate, can be taken to the extreme.

People begin to confuse obsession with love and they find themselves in dangerous situations.

An example of love obsession is stalking.

People who become stalkers often claim they love the person they are stalking. It is out of this obsessive love that they can ruin a person’s life, even harming them in extreme cases.

While there are many ways to mess up in the love department, there are many ways to enhance love in your life. Being generous to one another, being a positive source of support, strengthening your attachment to one another, and expanding the relationship through new activities that bring you closer together are a few of the ways love can be enhanced.

Another step to enhancing the love in your life is by recognizing the connection it has to hate.

The Love Hate Connection

Love and hate are such similar emotions.

It is human nature to be able to love something and hate it at the same time.

Love and hate are so intertwined that both can make us behave in ways that are rational and irrational.

People kill their spouses because they love them so much they will do anything to avoid losing them. Their extreme love causes them to act irrationally. On the other hand, people also kill others because they feel hate towards them, also an extremely irrational act.

How can two emotions lead to the same deadly ending?

Love and hate are actually two modes with the same focus, concern.

There are two circuits in the brain that are actually shared when feeling love and hate, the putamen and the insula.

The putamen is identified with the feeling of protecting someone from getting hurt (love) and also preparing to go on the attack (hate). Insula is connected with feelings such as jealousy or distress.

Also found in studies on the brain, large parts of the cerebral cortex, the parts that have to do with judgment and reasoning, are deactivated when thinking of love.

When feeling hate, only small portions of the cerebral cortex are deactivated. In other words, love feels good and allows us to take more risks. Hate makes us judge and analyze and find ways to avoid a situation. In this sense, both are needed for our existence.

Both love and hate have positive and negative aspects.

The key to using both emotions to your benefit is to be aware of the cause and effect of each.

Be honest with the level of love and hate you are experiencing. Express your emotions to someone you trust who can offer you rational feedback.

Embrace the positives of love and hate.

Get rid of the negatives.

If you need help getting rid of overly negative love or hate, get it, immediately. Don’t be afraid to seek help for dealing with these important feelings.