What is self-hatred?
Living with self-hatred is like living with an inner bully. The bully criticizes and judges constantly, making a person feel worthless, bad, ugly, disgusting, fat, mean, strange or like a failure. The inner bully also convinces someone that people around them view them the same way. This can lead to anxiety and the feeling of not being able to stand one’s own body or personality.
Self-hatred arises from a negative spiral of bad self-esteem that may have various causes. Perhaps an event in childhood or earlier in life, causing the person to believe that they are worth less than others. That there is something wrong with them and that no one will love them. Self-hatred can also be a symptom of depression or emotionally unstable personality disorder.
How does this affect a person’s life?
When the feeling of self-hatred and anxiety becomes too strong, there is a risk of engaging in destructive behaviours to deal with or numb the unpleasant feelings. Cutting or otherwise damaging the skin can be a way to relieve the anxiety and to punish the body as well. A person with self-hatred can get the feeling that the body needs to be purified. Eating disorders and abuse of alcohol and drugs are other ways to attack the body. It is also possible to develop suicidal thoughts.
Self-hatred and destructiveness cause a person to withdraw. Isolating oneself is a way to conceal one’s state of mind and behaviours. It is common to feel ashamed and then feel even worse because of this. Perhaps the person feels that they do not even deserve to feel happy. This can make them stop caring about, or even avoid things that would make them feel better, such as good food, good sleep, exercise and socialising with others.
Can things improve?
From time to time, everything negative a person thinks about themselves can feel as if it were true. As if there is no way out other than continuing to bully or punish themselves. But their head is deceiving them. There are other, better ways to deal with these feelings, which will eventually make the victim to feel better.
Hurting yourself can alleviate the difficult feelings for a moment, but is never a good solution in the long run. The best thing to do is instead to start taking care of yourself and showing yourself compassion. To work up your courage and tell someone how you feel can reduce the feeling of loneliness.
Can it be treated?
If you, or a relative, see that this description applies to you, it’s time to break the pattern and seek help. Contact a health centre, psychiatric outpatient clinic or occupational health services to schedule an appointment. If you are under 18, you can contact a youth clinic or BUP.
By contacting health services, you can get to the bottom of the problem and find out where your self-hatred comes from and how it can be managed. Talk therapy and medication have proven to be helpful in combating self-harming behaviour. It may also be reassuring to be able to rule out other illnesses.