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Bollas, C. (1984). Loving Hate. Ann. Psychoanal., 12:221-237.

(1984). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 12:221-237

Loving Hate

Christopher Bollas, Ph.D.

In Freud's early theory of the instincts love and hate were first conceived of as nonidentical twins. Love was that instinct that aimed to acquire pleasure and pleasurable objects, and hate was a counterinstinct: the drive to expel the unpleasurable into the outside world. “The ego hates, abhors and pursues with intent to destroy all objects which are a source of unpleasurable feeling for it,” wrote Freud (1915p. 138), equating hate with destruction. After a partial reworking of his instinct theory in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920) Freud incorporated love into the life instincts and placed hate in the service of the death instinct. At this point, therefore, hate had two potential functions; it could serve a mnemic purpose—“to restore an earlier state of things” (p. 36)—if considered a part of the death instinct, or, it could fulfill a purely expulsive-destructive function if conceived of according to the earlier instinct theory.

Psychoanalytic theory is not shy of references to destructive hate. Indeed, these days if we consider hate in object-relations theory, we assume a complex process whereby an internal object is damaged or destroyed and the ego is faced with the exceedingly daunting task of renegotiating internal reality in the wake of such hate. An internal object that is damaged by hate may lead to phobic withdrawal from the external representations of the object; it may lead to an addictively depressive state that amounts to a compromise formation between the wish to damage the object further and the dread of being attacked from within for such destructiveness. If the internal object is psychologically destroyed it may be expelled into fragmented objects that assume a bizarre quality (Bion, 1962).

When a person hates is it always true to say that he wishes to destroy? I am sure that most clinicians can find an exception to destructive hate in their clinical work, and in the spirit of what we find in our daily work,

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