Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness?

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Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness?

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » March 23rd, 2008, 10:51 am

[The following topic is featured as a leadup to the May philosophy book of the month discussion of Holding Fire.]

Do you think that anger, discompassion and hatred are usually symptoms of weakness? Why or why not?

If you know of any psychological studies into the matter, please post here about them.

Generally speaking, I think that anger, discompassion and hatred are signs of weakness and/or the self-perception of weakness.

Namely, I think people get frustrated by their own weakness, which makes them angry, discompassionate, and hateful and makes them more likely to resort to violence and other primitive and brutish techniques (not as a form of defense but as a means of offensive attack and control). When a person is socially weak, I believe the person will likely compensate by using the brutish techniques associated with anger, discompassion, and hatred.

Additionally, people who believe themselves to be weak will tend to have an inferiority complex, which is notorious for often resulting in excessive aggressiveness as a form of overcompensation, such as in the clichéd case of most schoolyard bullies.

In another example, consider the crazy "school shooters" who go to schools to shoot wildly at their classmates and usually kill themselves. Wouldn't you say that that extreme example of vengeful anger, discompassion, and hatred is a sign of severe weakness and the pathological self-perception of weakness.

In another example, if you back an animal into a corner, making it feel scared and weak, it will lash out violently and erratically, which in humans would be called anger, discompassion, or hatred.

In contrast, wouldn't you say that compassion is generally a sign of strength and clearheadedness? I would. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the strongest historical figures I can think of, and I believe he is a great example of how genuine strength enables a person to act on their love and to influence society without resorting to the destructive use of offensive violence and judgmental vengeance associated with anger, discompassion and hatred?

What do you think?
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Post Number:#2  Postby MarkE » March 23rd, 2008, 1:22 pm

You're right on several accounts. Of course there are always variables and exceptions involved. Like your thoughts about Martin Luther King. He was important, much more important than Malcolm X i'd say.

Sometimes compassion is called for, no doubt. But that's not always the case.

If you back a human into a corner, threatened with death - most likely the human will do the same thing. That is its only chance at survival. If the human responds to being backed into a corner and hopes the attacker is compassionate - it would undoubtedly die. It's a great analogy, but it can be looked at from both perspectives.

I know i seem cold-hearted by saying sometimes you just have to be aggressive to be strong. But the Alpha Males in all of nature do the same thing. That's why they're the leaders.

my argument is simply that you need a balance of both.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#3  Postby ape » June 12th, 2009, 12:02 pm

SCOTT:Do you think that anger, discompassion and hatred are usually symptoms of weakness? Why or why not?
APE: Only Hatred, and discompassion as it means Hatred, are symptoms of the real weakness.
Since Hatred hates itself as weak, it re-weakens or re-undermines itself, then tries to over-compensate by being strong all the time--in Hate of bullies. So Hate is in a no-win situation, and confers that attribute to all other words such as anger: Hate of anger leads to being angry in Hate.MT 5:21-22.
Love of anger leads to being angry in Love and so sinning not. EPHES 4:26.
SCOTT: Generally speaking, I think that anger, discompassion and hatred are signs of weakness and/or the self-perception of weakness.
Namely, I think people get frustrated by their own weakness, which makes them angry, discompassionate, and hateful and makes them more likely to resort to violence and other primitive and brutish techniques (not as a form of defense but as a means of offensive attack and control). When a person is socially weak, I believe the person will likely compensate by using the brutish techniques associated with anger, discompassion, and hatred.
APE: Right, and in Hate of being a brute and bully!
SCOTT: Additionally, people who believe themselves to be weak will tend to have an inferiority complex, which is notorious for often resulting in excessive aggressiveness as a form of overcompensation, such as in the clichéd case of most schoolyard bullies.
ape: Exactly. An inferiority complex being a compound of Hate for any one or thing that is inferior as all else, everything being inferior in some way, by persons who have discovered that they are weak.
SCOTT: In another example, consider the crazy "school shooters" who go to schools to shoot wildly at their classmates and usually kill themselves. Wouldn't you say that that extreme example of vengeful anger, discompassion, and hatred is a sign of severe weakness and the pathological self-perception of weakness.
APE: Xlnt! To hate self is to be psycho-spiritually sick.
SCOTT: In another example, if you back an animal into a corner, making it feel scared and weak, it will lash out violently and erratically, which in humans would be called anger, discompassion, or hatred.
APE: Exactly.
SCOTT: In contrast, wouldn't you say that compassion is generally a sign of strength and clearheadedness? I would.
APE: Yes, but Love looks weak and dumb and confused: so Lovers solve that problem by loving themselves as both weak & strong, dumb & smart, fused & confused.
SCOTT: Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the strongest historical figures I can think of, and I believe he is a great example of how genuine strength enables a person to act on their love and to influence society without resorting to the destructive use of offensive violence and judgmental vengeance associated with anger, discompassion and hatred?
APE: MLK did have most of Love down pat, but missed out on Love for fighting and violence, which lack caused the very excess violence he did not want, since he cd never say the words: I love myself as a racist or as a fighter or as white or as who/whatever. In that Love, he cd have fought in Love while also loving peaceful methods, OR in Love of fighting fight NOT, and teach people like Malcolm X that how to fight was in Love of Haters or fighters or whoever!
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Post Number:#4  Postby tmv » June 12th, 2009, 1:51 pm

I'd have to agree with you. I'd say that anger and what not in most typical cases are caused by insecurity which would lead back to weakness, or at least a self perceived weakness.

I wouldn't say this is true in every case. There is most certainly anger and agressiveness that is a result of compassion.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#5  Postby ontologic_conceptualist » June 12th, 2009, 2:30 pm

Scott wrote:Do you think that anger, discompassion and hatred are usually symptoms of weakness? Why or why not?

What do you think?


These themselves are not weaknesses per se' rather than just emotions, it is how they are implamented or reacted to that can cause a weakness, "Anger" towards injustice can cause motivation towards rectifying or preventing future ocourances, such as "Love" acted upon wrong can become an addictive drug and the fear of loosing this "Love" can show several different weaknesses.

Emotions connot be used to blame actions, the person who decides how to interperate & use these is the real example of a strength or weakness.

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Post Number:#6  Postby Belinda » June 13th, 2009, 4:40 am

Yes I would.Compassion and ability to control anger are signs of emotional health. Nobody is emotionally flat so we all at times, unless we've been lobotomised ,feel fear and related feelings instead of love and related feelings .
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Post Number:#7  Postby ape » June 13th, 2009, 11:49 am

Hi Belinda,

Compassion for all is the emotional health which gives us its health and ability to control and moderate anger and all emotions, and which control can be taken as further signs of emotional health.

So when we have lobotomised Hatred for any words or had a Heart of Hate Transplant, we all at all times and at the right times have that newly implanted and new plant of the Heart of Love for all words and so feel fear in Love,Prov 1:7, and anger in Love, Eph 4:26, and speak the truth in Love, Eph 1:15, and feel all other related feelings in Love, 1 Cor 16:14, in the right amount and with the right person a la Aristote, instead of ever feeling any Hate with any other feelings ever again.

Here is fear in Love:
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
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Post Number:#8  Postby JIDDY20 » July 26th, 2011, 6:21 pm

Anger a lack of compassion and hatred are expressions of fear. For the so-called alpha males that are leaders through aggression I ASK are we happy with the the world they have been instrumental in creating. We live in a world civilisation that is fundamentally fear based. In truth it is an ugly world where we settle our differences by killing each other, where might is right and fear is in charge.We are a world without concern for the hundred of thousands who die from hunger and disease every year. I NOTE WITH HORROR THAT THE SITUATION IS WORSENING. What we fail to understand is that we are one energy called life and what we do to others we do to ourselves. Those who have accumulated more than they could ever use even if they lived as long as Methuselah seem not to understand that they can only wear on pair of shoes, drive one car, be in one house at any given time, no matter how much they have. They will also grow old and die leaving it all behind. Probably because they really own nothing, these gifts are just loaned to us for the time we are here. A wee bit of love and compassion could only enhance their lives, as true joy comes from within. Hatred is a weakness and emotional dis-ease that destroys the body mind and spirit of humankind. Often times a lack of compassion breeds anger and negative behaviour in those that feel alienated as a result of the lack of human concern for their situation. Anger hatred and a lack of compassion are mankind's implacable enemies and evidence of emotional and spiritual weakness.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#9  Postby snus27 » September 2nd, 2011, 12:42 am

Anger can be motivating. It is difficult to see how to overthrow a tyranny by meekness and stoicism. Is compassion for death a virtue? Is compassion for poverty a virtue? Is hatred for a criminal an ethically weak position?

Perhaps you can clarify something for me which could help; do you mean anger, apathy and hatred against things or people?
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#10  Postby Intuitiv3infid3l » September 6th, 2011, 7:23 pm

Anger is simply a defense mechanism to help humans when they feel injustice has been done to them. The more angry a person is, the more injustice has been committed against them (factors such as genes also make a difference). It has nothing to do with being a weakness. If anything, compassion is actually a weakness because it is conforming to other people for the sake of being accepted and to get a temporary 'feel good' rush instead of fighting for morality (making the system into a justice-providing one).
morality=equality

[capitalism+libertarianism]=enforced inequality=immorality

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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#11  Postby Belinda » September 7th, 2011, 3:20 am

I very much agree with all Scott's post.
I heartily disapprove of bull fights. But the Spanish fighting bull is for me an example of how honesty wins out over unpredictable behaviour. The fighting bull is bred for courage so that he will fight in predictable ways and thus be less dangerouys for trained matadors than some random cattle.

Similarly when a person is very courageous he will fight the battle of life courageously and predictably and has no need to feel the unreasoned anger that follows upon fear.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#12  Postby dowhat1can » September 7th, 2011, 9:20 am

Scott wrote:Do you think that anger, discompassion and hatred are usually symptoms of weakness? ...

By coincidence, I am doggedly trying to struggle through Lacan's Écrits. From what I gather he thinks personal identity as the basis of our personality is the illusion that an ego has control over all our biological desires and needs. Lacan seems to me to be arguing that when a situation threatens this identity, anger results so as to cover our "weakness." Jacques Lacan, "Aggressivity in psychoanalysis." In Écrits: A selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977), 8-29.

I suppose "weakness" here would be better thought of in terms of what Belinda describes above as "fear'"in post #11 in this thread. I see the term "weakness" as being emotively satisfying but not very helpful in this discussion. So Lacan might be saying something like anger results from fear of circumstances fracturing biological desires.

Instead, I think anger might be denotatively characterized in the following way. Anger arises since one has not the skill to manage hindrance. Anger usually increases one's inability to deal with hindrance because anger interferes with thought, empathy, and open-mindedness to solutions. Consequently, it can be concluded that the arousal of anger interferes with the ability to find skillful means to meet the threat of being hindered from living well and doing well in the world (Aristotle's phrase).

Anger is probabilistically correlated with aggression according in accordance with its intensity, but aggression is not causally related to anger (that is, it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for anger).

It's interesting to me to observe that anger is often viewed as more appropriate for men than for women, in Western culture than in Eastern culture, in leaders than in followers, and in adults than in children. I suspect that additional mechanisms of genetic dispositions for anger, such as one for impulse control, the MAO-A gene, the so-called "warrior gene," will soon be isolated. Already in Italian courts, genetic and neurological evidence have convinced judges to reduce sentences for such individuals.
Scott wrote:If you know of any psychological studies into the matter, please post here about them.

As per request, after work today, I'll try to put together some salient relevant psychological studies of anger, with references.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#13  Postby Wittgenstoned » September 7th, 2011, 12:53 pm

I think powerlessness or the inability to affect outcomes that work against you can provoke anger or jealousy. I actually think that most often that is what does it. I mean, you hardly get angry when you can accomplish what you want within a favorable timeframe. I am not sure what you mean with weakness, but being a victim of the circumstances might be characterized as weakness.

To give an example of how powerlessness provokes anger:

You are about to turn left when suddently a car drives past you on the inside and forces you out into the ongoing trafic. This will likely cause first a mental chock, next anger. You feel violated. Someone just broke the rules and affected your life. He scratched your car and forced you to do something he shouldn't have, and you could do nothing about it.

You are discussing with your son. He wants to go out and you tell him not to. He calls you an old ape and leaves anyways. Depending on your person this will make you feel sad or angry, maybe you will even become agressive. What has happened is a conflict. Someone you used to controll stood up against your wish and condemned you. You mustered up all you could: "Listen to your father! If you go out I will feel hurt and angry, and I will punish you according to your doings!" - it didn't work. Your words were reduced to noise. Perhaps it even makes you feel jealous. What can you do to gain respect in his eyes? Why is a night out more worth than your love and your feelings? All in all the feelings stem from some sort of contract being broken (that of mutual respect with you in slightly more charge), and most importantly, perhaps, that you have no good to trade with and must sit with the faith in your sons ability to recognize your hurtings and act according to your wishes (within reasonable boundaries).

I think most cases where people get angry there is a conflict and a degredation of one or boths viewpoints and authority. You never get mad when the bargain is fair, and if you do, you are sick. Like the man that abuses his wife or the bully that cracks the ribcage of the nerd for not paying his lunchmoney.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#14  Postby dowhat1can » September 7th, 2011, 5:42 pm

Scott wrote:If you know of any psychological studies into the matter, please post here about them.

Here are some links to sources.
I find the distinction in the general treatment of anger in the East and West striking.

In Western religious philosophy (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) the anger of holy men arises from a hatred of evil. So the notion of an angry God is permitted. For example, Yahweh is an avenger (Judaism), OT, "sinners in the hand of an angry God," Christ throws money-changers out of temple (Christianity), two of the names of Allah are the Avenger, the Afflictor (Islam).

In Eastern religions philosophy (Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism) anger is optional. Anger seems less tolerated.

From a philosophical point of view, the reasoning for the irrelevance of anger in much of Eastern philosophy is something like this:
  • Enlightenment is the recognition that without our interference events in the world are just fine and are as they should be. Normally persons become angry when they think they ae being hindered.
  • But without hindrances, we would not act--our lives would be passive. Thus, ''hindrances'' are to be welcomed since they are our opportunity to be.
  • The enlightened individual has no expectations, thus has no hindrances. Or, to put it another way, there is no such thing as a hindrance or an obstacle except the thinking that makes it so.
Holiness in Eastern philosophy is the recognition that there are no hindrances if we do not have expectations about how things should be. And, instead, accept occurrences with gentle surprise.
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Re: Are anger, discompassion and hatred symptoms of weakness

Post Number:#15  Postby Craniumonempty » September 7th, 2011, 6:40 pm

Scott wrote:Do you think that anger, discompassion and hatred are usually symptoms of weakness? Why or why not?


When you say "discompassion" do you mean without compassion? I'm unsure on this word exactly. If it's simply without compassion, then I'm not exactly sure why it's there. That's why I think it means something different.

As far as anger or hatred, they didn't seem like they are signs of weakness, but they might be. I think it depends. In some ways, I think they are linked to each other and linked to our "fight or flight" reaction. Like you said when backed in a corner an animal will lash out. If that animal sees it's life in danger, I see that as a natural reaction and probably something that helped that species to survive. Hatred seems like it is more of a storage of the situation and what caused it hoping to avoid it again. Like a sustained anger in a way. Us being complex beings and not in any real fight or flight situations as we were when we were animals, we still have the mechanisms. I think the "weakness" might lie in our inability to be able to control these powerful emotions. It's hard when something powerful happens and you are in a crowd of other people all reacting in that way. It takes a lot of strength not only to overcome those feelings, but facing everyone else when you confront them on theirs as well. Like mob mentality. Of course, you should pick the battle, but sometimes when you are in a situation, you may not have much time to react... Either way, I'd put some studies on fear reaction and how similar it is to anger and why they are linked. It seems kind of natural when you think about it, and I think you probably already know of those studies and want something slightly different.

I think you are looking for how this reaction pushes extreme acts in the face of situations that seem to not call for them like the school shooting. I can see how lacking compassion can drive that as well, but isn't the cause. As far as school shootings, I was picked on at probably every school I ever went until college. I never confronted my attackers and just took it. This built a lot of hostility (or hatred) towards people in school. The problem was that it seemed to be everyone else even the teachers. I see now and saw it before I left high-school that it was probably more my attitude and how I interacted (like arguing with teachers when I thought something was wrong which I saw as a valid way to learn). My lack of social skills didn't help and it got worse the less I interacted with people. It didn't help that I talked to no one of this during my days at school. This could have built into something like a shooting if I took everything personally and sustained that anger. It wasn't even that I lacked compassion, but that everyone at school seemed to be against me. It's easy to think you are the center of everything when you only see yourself. What can I say, I was a stupid kid...

That's not what you were asking though, you were asking if those were symptoms of weakness. Yeah, I guess so. Much like the fight or flight feeling, I often felt backed into a corner in school. It was kind of a feeling of trapped in a prison and they won't let you go anywhere, so you are forced to interact with these people that seem to hate you. Like I said, it was probably just a reaction on their part as well, but I didn't know it at the time. So yeah, the anger was a reaction of a feeling of weakness in this situation.

After high school, controlling anger was much easier. One time I felt a rage of hatred (to a real extreme) was playing rugby. One guy got on my nerves because he kept going after me in a way that wasn't allowed, but was never seen by the official. I snapped and attacked him. The look of fear on his face frightened me when I snapped out of it. Well, I was much bigger than he was, but that wasn't me. It was strange, because even though there are lots of emotions on the field, that was the only time it was out of control. The point was that it was a point of weakness as well. I felt that there was nothing I could do and the emotion built very quickly in a short amount of time and without me noticing. I didn't let that happen again, but it did affect my game.

So, yeah, on my part I think that it is an emotion derived from a feeling of weakness or helplessness of a situation. I do need to read some more into the psychological studies though... I'll read the rest of the thread and see if anyone has some good links.
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