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Self-hatred (also called self-loathing) refers to an extreme dislike or hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself. The term is also used to designate a dislike or hatred of a group, family, social class, mental illness, or stereotype to which one belongs and/or has. For instance, "ethnic self-hatred" is the extreme dislike of one's ethnic group or cultural classification. It may be associated with aspects of autophobia.
The term "self-hatred" is used infrequently by psychologists and psychiatrists, who would usually describe people who hate themselves as "persons with low self-esteem". Self-hatred and shame are important factors in some or many mental disorders, especially disorders that involve a perceived defect of oneself (e.g. body dysmorphic disorder). Self-hatred is also a symptom of many personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder, as well as depression. It can also be linked to guilt for someone's own actions that they view as wrongful, e.g. survivor guilt.
The term self-hatred can refer to either a strong dislike for oneself, one's own actions, or a strong dislike or hatred of one's own race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other group of which one may be a member. When used in the latter context it is generally defined as hatred of one's identity based on the demographic in question, as well as a desire to distance oneself from this identity. The term "self-loathing" is used as a rhetorical tool by holders of extreme nationalistic or racist views to belittle those from the same ethnic group who do not share the views of the labeller.
Personal self-hatred and self-loathing can result from an inferiority complex. Some sociology theorists such as Jerry Mander see television programming as being deliberately designed to induce self-hatred, negative body image, and depression, with the advertising then being used to suggest the cure. See also the arguments related to the Kill your television phenomenon. Some personal self-hatred can be linked to remorse for something a person did or didn't do, or as a result of bullying.
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Self-harm can be a psychological disorder that may involve self-hatred, where subjects may feel compelled to physically injure themselves as an outlet for depression, anxiety, or anger. In some cases, self-harm can lead to accidental death or suicide. It is not a definitive indicator, however, of a desire either to commit suicide or even of its consideration.
- "Borderline Personality Disorder - Symptoms". WebMD. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- Kaufman, Ron. "Review of Jerry Mander's Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television". TurnOffYourTV.com. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- Sander L. Gilman Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race and Madness Cornell University Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0-8014-1785-6