Hatred is sourced and fed from an intense anger. One step further is grudge and desire for revenge. It is a feeling we don’t want to own, a feeling we cannot articulate; however, let grow deep inside. Mostly we settle the score with people we hate, in dreams. We hurt this person. We scream the thing we want to say. Sometimes during the day, we find ourselves quietly arguing with him inside our head.


Hatred, just like other feelings, has a function. The fact that people feel never-ending hatred towards those with whom they had close relationships once, makes them separate easily after a life that hurt themselves. Hatred helps them stay at a level in which they can persuade themselves for this break-up.


On the other hand while doing this, it makes the feeler pay a great price. The feeling of hatred and grudge makes it hard for a person to get out of that energy, focus on his/her works; increasing stress and weakening the immunity system. Actually, this must be exactly what Confucius wanted to tell while saying “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves” . When a person focuses on hurting another, he slowly devours himself.


The focus of the person living in grudge and hatred is to relax, and as we psychologists say have a catharsis. However, recent researches show that the results of grudge and hatred do not bring a sense of that relief: Social psychologist Kevin Carlsmith designed an interactive game. In this game, people are encouraged to cooperate. If they cooperate, they get a reward. However, the system is actually based on winning a greater reward when not cooperating. Some secret researchers in the game persuade others to cooperate and after a while, win by not cooperating. In this casw, 2 groups are formed: Those who have the right to punish the secret researchers and those who do not.


At the end of the research, the happiness values of the group, which didn’t punish and take revenge, is found to be higher. However, they tell that they would be happier if he was punished. On the other hand, the group that was able to punish state that they would feel less happy if they didn’t punish. Strangely; the results say exactly the opposite. The group, which didn’t take revenge and focus on this is happier while the that was able to punish is unhappy, contrary to the guesses. Carlsmith defines this as a paradox.


What the researches tell and we have observed during the sessions is that “tooth for a tooth” approach dooms both parties to dentures. Forgiving and letting go is of course not easy. As I told before, when there is an intense anger underlying, which has not been expressed, a person’s saying “I forgave him/her” brings up the thought to one’s mind that he is waiting for the revenge dish to get cooler. What makes a person most healthy in the long term is maybe sharing the anger with many people, making sports, get assistance from therapists and have a closure. Otherwise, it will be inevitable to fall into the grave we dug.


Derya Gulterler