A critical analysis of Why We Hate: Understanding, Curbing, and Eliminating Hate in Ourselves and Our World By: Rush W. Dozier, Jr. In the world today, young teenagers are bringing guns to school, people are flying airplanes into buildings, and riots are erupting in the city streets. Frighteningly enough, these actions find their origins deep within the regions of the human mind, the amygdala (Dozier, 2002, p. 5). When this part of the body perceives a particular object as a threat to its survival or chances of reproduction, it commands the body the react aggressively in order to eliminate the threat.
This extreme form of aggression, this emotion that drives terrorists to kill perfect strangers and which allows the ex-husband to think that killing his estranged wife and kids is the only way out has another name: hatred. These feelings of hatred that drive these individuals to perform such heinous acts usually go undetected by the general populace, and when the truth is revealed, all we can do is shake our heads and ask, “How did we miss this? ” In Rush W. Dozier, Jr. ’s book Why We Hate, possible answers to such questions are provided.
This book gives solutions to the issue of eliminating hate in modern society and seeks to explain why we hate, why are these feelings so strong, and how they become so destructive. In his book, Dozier describes hate as a powerful, yet controllable force which originates deep within the primitive brain. He describes hate as an emotion which emphasized an “us versus them” mentality, which allows one to dehumanize his opponent enough to put him on a level that a carnivore would put his prey (Dozier, 2002, p. 41).
Another reason for such violent outbursts of hate arises from the fact oftentimes, the person either feels physically or mentally trapped by his enemy. Humans are creatures of control, and when one feels trapped, he is experiencing a loss of control. When this happens, his “fight or flight” response kicks in, and, since he is not able to flee, he fights as if it is his last attempt at survival (Dozier, 2002, p. 15). With these facts in hand, Dozier then formulates ten steps that he believes are to reduce and/or eliminate hatred within society. For one, he suggests that one should specifically identify the source of is anger in order to make sure it is an actual threat and not just a mental construction. Another is that he should develop an us-us orientation of thought, trying to empathize with other with whom one has no real reason to have any natural sympathy for. One could also communicate one’s, reasons for feeling angry is also another way to reduce feelings of resentment. By airing present grievances, an outlet for anger has been created. Seeking to negotiate constructively by speaking to the one another as intelligent beings without aiming to condescend is another suggestion.
Also he theorizes that educating people will alleviate cultural misinterpretations among the masses and give one a deeper understanding of a different ethnicity. Next, make an attempt to form bonds of trust with one another by cooperating with one another in positive ways. And when faced with anger, try to put things into perspective and not overreact. Also, try not to feel trapped. If one’s current situation has his feeling trapped, he should expand his horizons and transform his former frustration into lessons in personal growth.
But, if one invariable finds himself within the grips of hate, he should find a way to immerse himself within which that he has come to hate. And last but not least, seek justice, not revenge (Dozier, 2002, pp. 31-37). In an attempt to confirm Dozier’s claim of tolerance through the spread of empathy, a study conducted by Frey and colleges done on school children was consulted. According to the study, the application of perspective taking, problem solving, and anger management leads to the reduction of psychological problems and behavioral problems such as aggression.
Exact numbers were not given, but according to the report, this conclusion was based on several directly related past studies. Through lessons on empathy, the children learned to see another person’s position and understand the emotions of others. With this value present, it is harder for one lose his humanity in the eyes of his enemy and allows both parties to deal with their problems constructively under the mutual respect to each other as human beings.
Students are also taught to deal with problems by identifying the problem, “brainstorming (Frey, Karin, Hirschstein, Miriam, & Guzzo, 2000)” in order to formulate some sort of solution, ask whether or not the endeavor is safe, and to consider how others will feel about this solution. By utilizing these methods, children are taught to stop and think about their actions in a rational manner and incorporate and apply their lessons on empathy into their decision making (Frey, et al. 2000).
Another study on adolescents from America and Croatia was done in order to determine if cultural immersion was an effective way to reduce prejudice and ethnic hostility. An undisclosed number of American teenager ages varying from 12-20, ranging from African-American to Asian to Latino were bonded with an equal number of Croatian youths of about the same age for 24 hours a day for a little over a month. Results showed that cultural immersion among the adolescents seemed to gear them away from an “us vs. them” mentality. Them” no longer was a vague term used to identify the enemy, and differences were made negligible by overwhelming similarities. When the children worked together, friendships formed, and hostilities disappeared (Dale, Nan, Danko, Roman, Breen, & Markham, 2001). From these results, one can conclude the Dozier was correct in theorizing that trust formation and cultural immersion were good ways to reduce hostilities and resentments among opposing groups. Many times, the seeds of hate take root before proper action can be taken, and then a way has to be found the curb the ensuing violence.
A specific study concerning the mentality of terrorists and such was not found, but as study concerning communication skills amongst violent couples was referred to. In this study, it was found that couples exhibiting positive communication exercises such as compromising, accepting responsibility and calmly identifying the problem have a significant reduction in marital violence (Ronan, Dreer, Dollard, & Ronan, 2004). So in theory, positive communication is conducive to the resolution of potentially combatant situations.
One can only assume that the same concept can be applied to non-married individuals involved in conflict. Dozier was once again on point when predicting a way to reduce anger amongst conflicting individuals. His suggestion on identifying a source of anger and constructively communicating feeling of anger or other sources of conflict can be seen as valid solutions. Even though the majority of Dozier’s suggestions have be proven to be valid ideas, it is not clear as to whether or not they are as effective in practice as they are in theory.
Many of the studies done on ethnic education, anger management, and problem-solving were done on children between the ages of 5 and 18, and no related studies could be found with adults as the test subjects. This leads one to think that it may be easier to program the thinking of children than that of an adult. If so, then Dozier needs to specify the age with which one should apply each tactic. Children have not yet formed social biases and stereotypes, whereas adults have already formed their own opinions on most things in life.
It would be harder to manipulate the mind of an already prejudiced adult who is described by Dozier himself as “closed-minded. (Dozier, 2002, p. 10)” Another area for concern is the probability of success of these steps actually transform the thinking of one already gripped by hate. Dozier describes hate as “irrational and unthinking, (Dozier, 2002, p. 35)” and throughout the book, he emphasizes the fact that hate is a “primitive instinct, (Dozier, 2002, p. 21)” Such displays and feelings of hatred can be “quick, instantaneous, and violent or slow and calculating, (Dozier, 2002, p. 6)” if this theory of his is indeed true, then how is said person expected to rationally stop and reason his way out of his hate? Dozier needs to explain how a person already tainted by hatred is supposed to loosed its chains. Cultural immersion is one valid solution, but if the person is in the bonds of an irrational and baser emotion, how is he going to find the reason to come up with this solution, much less brings him to be around that which he loathes? According to the author, hate directly derives from the phobia of anger (Dozier, 2002, p. 9), but if one has a phobia for snakes, he is not going to voluntarily jump into a snake pit. If said phobia is ready to be lifted, it is usually done with the help of therapy, but therapy is not one of Dozier’s suggestions; but it could be. Those with a fear and hatred for immigrants need just as much help with their phobia as those with a fear and hatred for snakes. Why We Hate by Rush W. Dozier, Jr. is indeed a helpful book with valid and extensive research-based ideas and theories about the origin, function, and treatment of hatred within the human animal.
Though well thought out and researched, it is apparent that he is not well schooled it the art of psychological treatment. He gives great suggestions that are backed up with psychological studies, but that is not enough. He needs to specify the fact that most of the methods are the most effective on children, not adults, and that sentiments of pure hatred are a great deal more difficult to amend than simple feelings of resentment. Other than that, this is a really insightful, informative book that poses no threat to society as a whole. References: Dozier, R. (2002). Why We Hate.
New York: Contemporary Books. Frey, Karin S. , Hirschstein, Miriam K. , & Guzzo. (2000). Second Step: Preventing Aggression by promoting social competence Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders [1063-4266], 18, 102. Dale, Nan, Danko, Roman, Breen, & Markham. (2001). Confronting adolescent bias and intolerance through cross-cultural immersion: An American-Croatian collaboration Child Welfare [009-4021], 80, 623. Ronan G. , Dreer L. , Dollard K. , & Ronan D. (2004). Violent couples: Coping with Communication skills Journal of Family Violence [0885-7482, 19, 131.