02 March 2015

On Hate, Part One

For any number of good reasons, I have been thinking a great deal lately about hate. As far as I can tell at this time, D.W. Winnicott began the work to remove from the concept ‘hate’ the negative aspects associated usually with it. I am exploring . . .
            My study starts in reality Jessica Benjamin offers as a definition of objects relations as “the psychic internalization and representation of interactions between self and object.”  If Freud suggested that development could be defined as the replacement of id by the ego, then Benjamin offers, “where ego is, objects must be.” We are the sum of our object relating and use.
            I do not know enough to elaborate with even slight sophistication at this point, but I do want to begin consideration: object relating results in certain alterations in the self ( the self here defined as a consciousness and an unconsciousness), and effects what is in psychology called a cathexis: a concentration of mental energy focused on another person, an object or even on aspects of the self. For example, I might consider my hypochondria a cathectic attachment. Object relations theory might offer that I relate to this rash, that pain, this twinge, that confluence of physical feelings, every slight change in my body by drawing it (them) within and assigning to them a cathectic charge: into symptoms that troubles me. I suspect that the hypochondria is a fear of death (Freud’s death principle enacted) but the hypochondria possesses an emotional charge, a cathexis, that gives it power over me and to an extent, sometimes small and sometimes large, controls my behavior.   
            Hate is mentalized anger, and in hate I destroy those objects to which I have been relating in my internal object world. But, when those objects survive my destruction, they become elements of reality and become objects that I can now use. To gain control over my intra-psychically charged symptoms would free up a great deal of time and energy for more interesting activity. The capacity to use objects becomes the work of psychotherapy, says Winnicott. But this process of object use seems to begin with the capacity to hate. Hate appears to be a developmental aggression in the service of separation. Hate, says psychotherapist Laurence Green, is self-delineating aggression, (I choose on what to aggress) and through our capacity to hate we give up our dependence on the other. I can cease relying on my hypochondria to control my thought and behavior in this world, and through hate I can begin to engage productively with colleagues rather than remain enraged at them from a comfortable distance. “Through the experience of hating we are able to relinquish the expectation that the person changes to meet our need.” Thus, having abandoned that demand, we can accept the other as separate, and we can begin to love—a topic I’ll save for another time. Hate is the energy of destruction that we use to break through our object (intra-psychic) world to engage in reality.
     In the classroom, then, do I hate my students, and do I teach my students to hate me?


Blogger Alan A. Block said...

Thank you! Today I needed that.

05 March, 2015 15:58  

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