We’ve heard there’s a fine line between love and hate; psychologically that is true. Dr. Linda Mintle says these opposing feelings utilize similar brain patterns, but with very different and potentially dangerous results.

“What’s interesting about the emotion of love and the emotion of hate is they follow a similar process in the brain, both of those are really intense emotions, but there’s a distinct difference. When you think about people who are in love, they sort of lose their judgment: they think everything’s wonderful and everybody’s great. They’re not very discerning when they’re in love.”

“Exactly the opposite happens when you’re in hate: your judgment is beginning to be used, and it starts to activate parts of your brain that are associated with aggression, and even the motor parts of your brain. If you think about your hate, focus on it and start to ruminate on it, then the brain goes into logic and planning, calculating how to harm somebody. So it’s an emotion that tells you to do something–it activates aggressive impulses, which is why it’s so dangerous.”

There’s also an important distinction between anger, a sharp negative reaction to an immediate situation, and hate, which has been allowed to simmer internally over a long time. Dr. Linda says hate is often prompted by a deep wound or abuse in a person’s past; if that internal pain isn’t healed, it begins to fill the person’s heart, leading them to lash out at others.

“Hate is mind-altering. That’s one of the reasons why the Bible has so many scriptures lumping hate with very serious kinds of sins.”

“In hate, you’re activating parts of your brain into being aggressive, and yet, you’re blinded to this. Many times people who are feeling hate towards somebody, or a group of people, will think they’re loving and kind in other parts of their life, so there’s this dissociation that goes on with hate. People really are in this darkness that the Bible talks about, a blindness–there’s a part of them that thinks they’re OK, and then a part of them that really gets activated with hate.”

There is hope for healing from our hate when we confess and root out the underlying ugliness that blinds us.

“It’s a heart issue, in my mind: it’s an issue of sin when you hold hate in your heart. This is why it’s so dangerous to not have more of God being talked about in the public square, and spiritual solutions to problems. That’s only way to get rid of it.”

“The biggest spiritual solution is to confess and to say ‘God, that is a wrong way for me to behave towards my fellow person,’ and once you confess it, get rid of it, and you ask for the love of God to be implanted in your heart. God can do amazing things, because God is in the business of transforming a person’s heart and making it new.”

And it is with a transformed heart that we can bring the light of Jesus’ love to a world in darkness.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:35

Dr. Linda Mintle is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker and national expert on relationships and the psychology of food, weight and body image. She’s a best-selling author with 19 book titles to her credit and hosts The Dr. Linda Mintle Show.

Why hate is so dangerous