Misanthropy | What does it mean for Psychology and Psychiatry? (2023)

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Last Updated on February 7, 2023 by Mike Robinson

An adverse reaction to the human species is a psychological and social attitude known as misanthropy.

They don’t hate specific people, but they hate the things that make people human, like individualism, being unwilling to change, and being intolerant, among many other things.
Misanthropy can be mild or very strong and can appear in many different ways, from harmless social criticism to dangerous acts of destruction or self-destruction.

Misanthropy | What does it mean for Psychology and Psychiatry? (1)

Examples of Misanthropy Cases

In extreme cases, misanthropy can lead to murder. An example of this is the case of Carl Panzram, who murdered more than 20 people in the United States.When he was arrested and locked up in a Washington, DC, jail in 1922, he stated:“I hate the whole human race. I enjoy killing people. “That is a chilling phrase.

Here is another example, more recent, that you will surely remember. In 1999, a group of assassins entered the Columbine Institute, killed 13 people, and then committed suicide. In their diaries, they referred to the hatred they felt towards humans.

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But it is not necessary to have thoughts or feelings so extreme to have traits of misanthropy.To understand better what misanthropy is, think about this situation:

You’ve had a bad day; your boss yelled at you at work; you’ve had to deal with complaints from many clients who have been rude in expressing their dissatisfaction. To make matters worse, you argue with other drivers in a traffic jam or get treated rudely on the bus.When you finally get home, you get a call from a friend who invites you to dinner.

What do you say? The last thing you feel like doing is going out and seeing more people. You want to be alone, at home, in peace, with no other humans nearby.

Of course, this feeling results from the specific events that occurred earlier that day. We’ve all had days like this. But people with misanthropy have this feeling of dislike or contempt for people all the time.Because of this, people with intense feelings of misanthropy can have difficulty living in a society or even accepting themselves.

While misanthropy is not considered a mental disorder or illness (at least not in mild cases), it can cause emotional stress or be a symptom of an underlying psychiatric illness.

Are You a Misanthrope?

As we talked about in the last section, we all have pessimistic thoughts about other people at some point.

Misanthropy is more than this, though. It is a deep dislike of people in general. Look at the following to get an idea of how a misanthrope thinks:

You’re watching the news on TV, and the police section is full of terrible stories about wars, murders, and drug use. But you think they are just a few isolated facts that the media likes to cover.

But a misanthrope does not think that way. They believe these facts prove that all people are disgusting, self-centered, and dangerous.Because of these thoughts and feelings, the misanthrope may avoid all contact with other people. This can lead to social isolation.

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Then, a vicious circle starts: the misanthrope is sure that no one has a good attitude. When they are alone, they can’t have any good experiences with other people, which makes them feel even worse about people.However, it is essential to point out that a misanthrope, as long as his hostility is not too intense, can have a relatively normal relationship with people close to him.

For example, you may have feelings of aversion towards humanity in general but, at the same time, have a good relationship with your partner or certain friends.Misanthropes may also feel this way because they are afraid of other people.

If you are a misanthrope and watch the news about wars, murders, political corruption, and fraud, you might think that the human species is doomed. However, these thoughts of aversion also have to do with fear.

Test Questions for Misanthropy

To determine if you have misanthropy, ask yourself if you exhibit any of the behaviors listed below.

  1. A misanthrope, in general, does not trust people. They try to avoid social situations, meetings, and crowded places. They likely justify their behavior by saying that people have dangerous behaviors. Therefore, coming into contact with them could cause them some harm.
  2. The misanthrope often believes they are superior to the rest of society. Their language is usually sarcastic. Sometimes they have good knowledge of philosophy, a high intellectual level, and like to read.
  3. They don’t like following social rules, don’t care about how they look and don’t want to change.

In addition to having a dislike for people, misanthropy has a somewhat unclear definition that may make it challenging to understand. Additionally, there are numerous theories regarding misanthropy and its potential causes.

However, you can determine how misanthropic you are by responding to the following questions (with yes or no).

You are convinced that:

  1. Most people would lie to get what they want.
  2. Often, when you try to help someone, your intentions get misunderstood, and you end up in a mess.
  3. Most people find it annoying to help others, even if they do not say it.
  4. When people are honest, it is for fear of being discovered.
  5. When things go well at work, bosses typically take all the credit and hold subordinates accountable when mistakes occur.
  6. When someone is kind to me, I immediately question their true motives.
  7. Numerous people engage in despicable sexual behavior.
  8. Most people cheat on their partners.
  9. Everyone exaggerates their problems to get others’ support, help, compassion, or even sympathy.
  10. Frequently, people considered authorities on a subject end up knowing no more than I do.

If you have answered yes to four or more of these questions, you likely have a certain degree of misanthropy.

Correlation Between Misanthropy and Mental Illness

According to recent research from the University of Finland, those who have misanthropic thoughts are also more likely to develop dementia.

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As part of this study, a group of people underwent a psychological test usually used to measure the degree of misanthropy or cynicism, asking each person how well they are with phrases such as “most people lie” or “it’s best not to trust anyone.”Eight people were tested for dementia eight years later. As it turns out, those with a higher degree of misanthropy also developed more symptoms of cognitive impairment and dementia.

The researchers then concluded that there is a correlation between misanthropy and certain mental illnesses, although they can’t say that misanthropy is the cause of these disorders.

According to other studies, there is a connection between misanthropy and other conditions. For instance, research conducted in 2009 on a group of women found that cynicism was associated with a higher risk of cancer and heart disease.

In short, misanthropy may negatively affect your health. At the same time, it can be very challenging to change your personality characteristics.

You may be wondering what you can do about it.According to experts, the best course of action is to maintain a healthy lifestyle (not smoking, exercising, and eating in moderation) and make sure you see your friends occasionally.

Misanthropic Phrases

These actual phrases have been spoken or written by misanthropic people; some are well known. You can Google their names if you want to know more about them.

“I do not hate people; “I just feel better when I’m away from them.” Charles Bukowski

“You always think you’re the only one in the world that everyone else loves, but it’s not like that. Most people do not like other people very much. And this goes for friends too. ” Miranda July

“I think there is a characteristic common to all mankind. We all suck “- Bill Hicks.

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“I hate humanity; I think I’m one of the best, and I know how bad I am.” Samuel Johnson

“You call me a misanthrope because I avoid social contact. “You’re wrong; I love society. “So to not hate people, I must avoid their company,” says Caspar David Friedrich.

“What is man?” “A miserable and small pile of secrets.” —André Malraux

“Have you ever had the feeling that the world is full of bastards? I do. What I want to know is what will happen when the bastards no longer have anyone to harm. What will happen when all that is left in the world are bastards? The golden rule Hurt others before they harm you. ” William Hoffman

Did you identify with any of these phrases? If so, welcome to the world of misanthropy.

Famous Misanthropes

Throughout history, many famous misanthropes have appeared; many were philosophers or well-known writers, as well as protagonists of literary works or TV series known internationally.

Arthur Schopenhauer

For example, Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who claimed that “the human species is nothing more than a mistake.”However, he also said that “ethical treatment of others is the best attitude because we all suffer and are part of this same will to live.”

Schopenhauer also dared to show a comprehensive view of suicide when it was a taboo subject.

José Ortega y Gasset

José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish philosopher and writer who, although he can not be said to be a misanthrope, in his work ” The Rebellion of the Masses,” openly declares that “this custom of speaking to humanity, which is the most sublime and contemptible of democracy, was adopted around 1750 by misguided intellectuals, ignorant of theirlimits.

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Friedrich Nietszche

Friedrich Nietszche, a German philosopher, was also known for his contempt for humans, reflected in his thoughts and works.


As you can see, misanthropy is more common than you might have thought. The good news is that you have the power not to become one of the many misanthropic individuals. Try at least to keep up a relationship with a few friends if you have misanthropic thoughts or feelings. Things aren’t as bad as they seem.

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Is hatred part of mental illness? ›

Hatred is not borne from serious mental illness. It may be triggered by the experiences people have had and the unresolved grievances they may have held for many years, but this is not depression. It isn't bipolar disorder.

What is an example of dangerousness in psychology? ›

Anyone may be dangerous under certain conditions. For example some people tend to be violent in their home environment and otherwise present a respectable face to the world, others are violent only when intoxicated. The symptoms of mental illness for most people are not necessary conditions in themselves for violence.

What are the 3 criteria for psychological disorder? ›

Mental disorders are hard to define. Most definitions include the “3 Ds”: Dysfunction, distress (or impairment), and deviance.

What are the 4 types of personality disorders? ›

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) Borderline personality disorder (BPD) Histrionic personality disorder. Narcissistic personality disorder.

What part of the brain controls hatred? ›

The Brain's Hate Circuit.

The insular cortex, putamen, and left superior frontal gyrus are the main components of the hate circuit. These three brain regions showed a specific type of activation when individuals viewed pictures of people who they hate.

What is the main emotion of hatred? ›

Hatred is an intense negative emotional response towards certain people, things or ideas, usually related to opposition or revulsion toward something. Hatred is often associated with intense feelings of anger, contempt, and disgust. Hatred is sometimes seen as the opposite of love.

What are some abnormal behaviors in psychology? ›

Examples of Abnormal Behavior
Type of BehaviorExamples
Personal distressSelf-destructive behaviors, aggressive behavior toward others, obsessive-compulsive behaviors
Maladaptive behaviorsSelf-isolation, substance abuse, attention-seeking behaviors
2 more rows
Oct 6, 2021

What is disturbing behavior in psychology? ›

Disturbing behavior usually causes people to feel concerned, alarmed, afraid or frustrated. A student exhibiting disturbing behavior might hold no negative impacts on other students, the professor's ability to teach or conduct class, or the implementation of other professionals' roles in the University.

What is inappropriate in psychology? ›

emotional responses that are not in keeping with the situation or are incompatible with expressed thoughts or wishes, such as smiling when told about the death of a friend.

What is the most serious psychological disorder? ›

By all accounts, serious mental illnesses include “schizophrenia-spectrum disorders,” “severe bipolar disorder,” and “severe major depression” as specifically and narrowly defined in DSM. People with those disorders comprise the bulk of those with serious mental illness.

What is the most common type of psychological disorder? ›

The most common are anxiety disorders major depression and bipolar disorder. Below is more information on these disorders and how ACCESS can help. Remember you are not alone, and medical experts are here to support you.

What is the most diagnosed psychological disorder? ›

Impacting an estimated 300 million people, depression is the most-common mental disorder and generally affects women more often than men.

What personality disorders have lack of empathy? ›

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is associated with an assortment of characteristics that undermine interpersonal functioning. A lack of empathy is often cited as the primary distinguishing feature of NPD.

What are the first signs of a personality disorder? ›

Common signs of a personality disorder include:
  • strange or erratic behaviour.
  • suspicion and distrust.
  • taking risks.
  • extreme mood swings (angry outbursts)
  • difficulty with relationships.
  • problems at school or work.
  • need for instant gratification.

What disorder is similar to narcissist? ›

Cluster B personality disorders are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.

What chemical is responsible for hate? ›

The phenomenon that is played out by oxytocin is linked with something that psychologists call in-group and out-group division that our brain makes. Oxytocin works as love hormone for in-group humans. But, by doing that, it automatically creates an out-group that it forces us to hate.

What does hatred do to the brain? ›

Research shows that hatred changes the chemistry in the brain as it stimulates the premotor cortex which is responsible for planning and execution of motion. This prepares us to act aggressively when feeling hateful, either to defend or as an attack .

Is hate a feeling or emotion? ›

Hate has been described widely as an emotion, but also as an attitude or a sentiment. Some scholars think that hate is an extreme version of anger or dislike; some describe hate as a blend of emotions such as anger, contempt and disgust; and others regard hate as a distinct and unique feeling.

What is the root cause of hatred? ›

There are two factors at the root of hatred: the devalua- tion of the victim and the ideology of the hater. Both of these factors mould and expand hatred. They reduce empathy, because the hater moves increasingly away from the object of their hatred.

What is the psychological definition of hate? ›

n. a hostile emotion combining intense feelings of detestation, anger, and often a desire to do harm. Also called hatred.

How do you deal with someone who hates you for no reason? ›

What to do when someone hates you for no reason
  1. What to do when someone doesn't like you for no reason.
  2. Don't make assumptions.
  3. Practice self-awareness.
  4. Focus on self-improvement.
  5. Don't own others' feelings.
  6. Face conflict head-on.
  7. Beware of approval-seeking behaviors.
  8. Go where you're celebrated.

What is the best example of a psychological disorder? ›

Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

What are the 4 D's in abnormal psychology? ›

Psychologists often classify behavior as abnormal using 4 D's: deviance, distress, dysfunction, and danger. Providing a straightforward definition of abnormality is tricky because abnormality is relative, but the definition has several primary characteristics.

What are four abnormal behaviors? ›

In the DSM-5, abnormal behavior is characterized by four general criteria: maladaptive behavior, personal distress, statistical rarity, and violation of social norms.

Which psychological disorder is characterized by major disturbances in? ›

Schizophrenia is a devastating psychological disorder that is characterized by major disturbances in thought, perception, emotion, and behavior.

What are the three types of abnormal behavior? ›

Abnormal includes three different categories; they are subnormal, supernormal and paranormal. The science of abnormal psychology studies two types of behaviors: adaptive and maladaptive behaviors.

What causes abnormal behavior psychology? ›

Medical models point to distorted brain chemistry, illness, or hormonal imbalances as potential causes of abnormal psychology. For example, schizophrenia seems to have a genetic root, and schizophrenic behavior could be characterized as being caused by abnormal genes.

What is toxic psychology? ›

A toxic personality is difficult to define, but it may involve gaslighting, deflecting blame and responsibility, and preying on others' fears. To recognize if someone is toxic, think about if you feel uncomfortable, drained, or confused after spending time with them.

What is controversial in psychology? ›

Some findings inevitably challenge existing moral, political and religious beliefs, leading to heated debate. Controversies in Psychologyexamines these debates, particularly those about control and manipulation, and perceived differences between one group of people and another.

What are the dangers of psychology? ›

Psychology is a fascinating field that can be dangerous when misused or mishandled. Some of the most well-known psychology misused are sexual predators, cults, and terrorists. The misuse of psychology is only possible when individuals neglect to put in clear guidelines for their use of psychology.

What is the hardest mental illness to treat? ›

Personality disorders are some of the most difficult disorders to treat in psychiatry. This is mainly because people with personality disorders don't think their behavior is problematic, so they don't often seek treatment.

What are the most disabling mental illnesses? ›

Schizophrenia and personality disorders are the most disabling mental health conditions to live with, according to Queensland Brain Institute's Professor John McGrath.

What mental illness is similar to bipolar? ›

Cyclothymia, or cyclothymic disorder, causes mood changes – from feeling low to emotional highs. Cyclothymia has many similarities to bipolar disorder.

What is the easiest mental illness to treat? ›

Anxiety disorder is the most treatable of all mental illnesses. Anxiety disorder produces unrealistic fears, excessive worry, flashbacks from past trauma leading to easy startling, changes in sleep patterns, intense tension and ritualistic behavior.

What is the number one mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.

What is the number one mental illness in the world? ›

Each year, around 1 million people die from suicide in the world, of which some 63,000 are in the Americas. Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world.

What mental illness is hereditary? ›

Scientists have long recognized that many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.

What is the most common mental disorder in the United States? ›

Anxiety disorders are considered the most common type of psychiatric disorders in the general population.

What are 3 major mental health disorders that are most common in older adults? ›

It is estimated that 20% of people age 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern (6). The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) (6).

What disorder is inability to connect with others? ›

Avoidant personality disorder causes a fear of rejection that often makes it difficult to connect with other people. You may be hesitant to seek out friendships, unless you are certain that the other person will like you.

Do borderlines feel remorse? ›

Only remorse leads to a real apology and change. One of the hallmarks of people with Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (BP/NP) is that they often do not feel truly sorry. Even though a BP/NP may say he or she is sorry, there is often something lacking.

What is the root cause of lack of empathy? ›

Low emotional intelligence, burnout, and stress

Being under prolonged stress may also lead someone to be less tolerant of other people's behavior and have lower cognitive empathy. In some cases, emotional avoidance may also be a reason why someone may not develop or practice empathy.

What personality type always has to be right? ›

ESTJs have a tendency to think they are always right and that their moral compass is objective, absolute and universal.

What is a favorite person in quiet BPD? ›

A favorite person is the center of attention of an individual living with BPD. This means they consider this person as a trusted friend, confidant, and counselor all wrapped in one. Dr. Roberts notes that the person with BPD demonstrates an “anxious-preoccupied attachment style.”

What is it called when you make up stories in your head and believing them? ›

Delusional disorder is a type of mental health condition in which a person can't tell what's real from what's imagined. There are many types, including persecutory, jealous and grandiose types. It's treatable with psychotherapy and medication.

What's worse than a narcissist? ›

Sociopaths are more dangerous than narcissists. People with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to be engaged in an abusive or controlling relationship. They're also more likely to be involved in illegal activities or financial fraud schemes. If dating someone like this, you're in trouble.

What personality type is opposite of a narcissist? ›

The opposite of a narcissist is called an 'empath'— here are the signs you could be one. People who are very receptive to the emotions of others are known as empaths. They are also very sensitive to noise, smell, and being around people. This means they are overwhelmed in crowds, and get exhausted in social situations.

What is a narcopath? ›

Narcopath, also known as a narcissist sociopath, is a person suffering from a mental health condition wherein they reflect sadistic, evil, and manipulative tendencies.

What is self-hatred a symptom of? ›

Self-hatred is also a symptom of many personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, as well as mood disorders like depression. It can also be linked to guilt for someone's own actions that they view as wrongful, e.g., survivor guilt.

What does hatred do to a person? ›

Experiences of hate are associated with poor emotional well-being such as feelings of anger, shame, and fear. Moreover, victims tend to experience poor mental health, including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and suicidal behavior.

Is hatred a form of anger? ›

Anger, like fear and sadness, is an emotion that can provide us with certain benefits. Like other "pure" emotions, anger can become distorted. Hate is an example of a distortion of both anger and fear. Anger can come and go, giving us the energy to oppose an obstacle or threat.

Is self-hatred a symptom of anxiety? ›

Mental Health Conditions

A feeling of self-hatred could also be the result of a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. Depression, for example, can cause symptoms such as hopelessness, guilt, and shame, which can make you feel as though you are not good enough.

How do you fix extreme self hatred? ›

Working on Self-Loathing on Your Own
  1. Try to observe your thoughts from the outside. ...
  2. Change the way you talk to yourself. ...
  3. Lower your expectations. ...
  4. Try to accept being good enough. ...
  5. Say something positive to yourself.
May 31, 2022

What disorder is self-loathing? ›

Self-loathing on its own is not a disorder, but it is one of several possible symptoms of depression. The DSM-5 articulates this symptom as “feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).”

What is it called when you hate your body? ›

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others. People of any age can have BDD, but it's most common in teenagers and young adults.

Is hatred a form of obsession? ›

Hatred is among the feelings I call “obsessive emotions.” Like other forms of obsession, obsessive emotions increase the propensity for aggressive and violent actions. Adolf Hitler, for example, a quintessential example of a hateful person, had a lifelong obsession with the Jews.

How do you overcome hatred for someone? ›

The best course for resolving feelings of hate can depend upon the situation. If you feel hatred toward a person or group you don't understand, lead with empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) and compassion (engaging in an act of kindness). These are antidotes to hate.

What is the philosophy of hatred? ›

Hatred plays an indispensable role in the drive to assimilate or incorporate other life-forms into life's struggle for expansion and self-overcoming. According to Nietzsche's philosophical physiology, hatred is greatest where struggle and the resistance to assimilation are greatest; that is, among equal powers.

What is Autophobia anxiety? ›

People who have autophobia have an irrational, extreme fear of being alone. A person may experience this fear when they're alone. Some people may have autophobia even when they're with other people. In this case, the fear centers on worries about isolation.

What is a synonym for self hatred? ›

Definitions of self-hatred. shame resulting from strong dislike of yourself or your actions. synonyms: self-disgust. type of: shame.

Is anxiety a form of selfishness? ›

Anxiety disorders are selfish disorders. Anxiety and fear are self-centered and will push their way to the front of the line at all times. When struggling with an anxiety disorder, the selfish nature of the disorder often makes you look selfish and self-centered.


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