Self-hatred is a pejorative characterization of persons who are judged to hold members of their apparent identity group to a higher standard of behavior than those not in that social group. In academia, the term is generally taken to mean an internalization of the prejudices of a dominant culture against a subculture by members belonging to that subculture.

The term is infrequently used to mean a more personal self-loathing or hatred of oneself, or low self-esteem[1] which may lead to self-harm.

In psychology and psychiatry

The term "self-hatred" is used infrequently by psychologists and psychiatrists, who would usually describe people who hate themselves as "people with low self-esteem".[2] Self-hatred, self-guilt 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,[3] 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.

Some sociology theorists such as Jerry Mander see television programming as being deliberately designed to induce self-hatred, negative body image, and depression, with advertising then being used to suggest the cure.[4] 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 did not do, or as a result of bullying.

Skin bleaching is common among various ethnicities, often because of an internalized belief that their skin is “too dark” for society. On July 5, 1999, The Ministry of Health held a press conference to publicize its counter strategy to skin bleaching resulting in taking it off on all markets; actions such as these often remind people with darker skin of the prevalence of racial prejudices, possibly reducing self-esteem, and as a result, increasing self-hatred. A dermatologist has estimated that about 10% to 15% of the patients seen by dermatologists are bleaching their skin.

In social groups

Self-hatred by members of ethnic groups, gender groups, and religions is postulated to be a result of internalization of hatred of those groups from dominant cultures.


Self-hating or "anti-Catholic Catholics" are terms of critique by traditionalist or conservative Catholics to describe modernist or liberal Catholics, especially those who seek to reform doctrine, make secularist critiques of the Catholic Church, or place secular principles above Church teachings.[5][6][7]


Theodor Lessing, in his book, Jewish Self-Hatred (1930), identified this as a pathology, “a manifestation of an over identification with the dominant culture and internalization of its prejudices.” There have been studies from sources stated in the scholarly research, “mental illness in Jews often derived from feelings of inferiority and self-hatred resulting from persecution and their subordinate position in society.”

The term has been used to label American Jews accused of hiding their identity “by converting or intermarrying and raising their children in another faith” to overcome sociopolitical barriers due to antisemitism in the United States.[8]


Racial stereotyping of African-Americans and negative American media portrayals of Black men and women have spread outside of the U.S., influencing people of all races worldwide, and increasing self-hatred.[9][10][11]


Self-harm is a condition where subjects may feel compelled to physically injure themselves as an outlet for depression, anxiety, or anger, and is related with numerous psychological disorders.[12][13][14]

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.[15]

See also: Mortification of the flesh, Self-flagellation


Self-deprecation is the act of belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging oneself,[16] or being excessively modest.[17][18] It can be used in humor and tension release.[19]

See also


  1. "I Hate Myself", by PsychAlive
  2. "I Hate Myself", by PsychAlive
  3. "Borderline Personality Disorder - Symptoms". WebMD. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  4. Kaufman, Ron. "Review of Jerry Mander's Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television". Archived from the original on 2014-03-31. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
  5. Weigel, George (21 June 2011). "Maureen Dowd's Catholic Problem". National Review Online. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  6. Arkes, Hadley (1 November 1996). "Life Watch: Anti-Catholic Catholics". Crisis Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  7. Lawler, Phil (13 July 2011). "Anti-Catholic Catholics". Catholic Culture. Trinity Communications. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  8. Alperin, Richard M. (2016-03-09). "Jewish Self-Hatred: The Internalization of Prejudice". Clinical Social Work Journal. 44 (3): 221–230. doi:10.1007/s10615-016-0577-2. ISSN 0091-1674.
  9. Charles, Christopher A. D. (July 2003). "Skin Bleaching, Self-Hate, and Black Identity in Jamaica". Journal of Black Studies. 33 (6): 711–728. doi:10.1177/0021934703033006001. ISSN 0021-9347.
  10. Hall, Ronald E. (2014-02-27). "Self-Hate as Life Threat Pathology Among Black Americans: Black Pride Antidote Vis-à-Vis Leukocyte Telomere Length (LTL)". Journal of African American Studies. 18 (4): 398–408. doi:10.1007/s12111-014-9277-6. ISSN 1559-1646.
  11. Hall, Ronald E., and Jesenia M. Pizarro. “Unemployment as Conduit of Black Self-Hate: Pathogenic Rates of Black Male Homicide via Legacy of the Antebellum.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 40, no. 4, Mar. 2010, pp. 653–665. EBSCOhost,
  12. Laye-Gindhu, A.; Schonert-Reichl, Kimberly A. (2005), "Nonsuicidal Self-Harm Among Community Adolescents: Understanding the "Whats" and "Whys" of Self-Harm", Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34 (5): 447–457, doi:10.1007/s10964-005-7262-z
  13. Klonsky, D. (2007), "The functions of deliberate self-injury: A review of the evidence", Clinical Psychological Review, 27 (2): 226–239, doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2006.08.002, PMID 17014942
  14. Muehlenkamp, J. J. (2005), "Self-Injurious Behavior as a Separate Clinical Syndrome", American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75 (2): 324–333, doi:10.1037/0002-9432.75.2.324, PMID 15839768
  15. "Understanding Suicide and Self-harm". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  16. "Self-deprecation". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  17. Self-Deprecation - Personality & Spirituality
  18. Self-deprecation | Define Self-deprecation at
  19. Hill, Matthew. "The Funny Thing About Work". Society for Intercultural Training and Research. Archived from the original on 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2011-05-04.

Further reading

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