Self Acceptance vs. Self Hatred Radical Bleeding Heart image

The Self-Righteousness of Those Who Hate Themselves

Inner Conficts. Our own values can be in conflict with each other. Conservatives and liberals react differently to such conflict. Say you want something that your neighbor has but you also do not want to be a thief. Your material values — your desire for your neighbor's possession conflict with your ethical values. Many people have little trouble resolving such conflicts. They fairly easily find ways to satisfy their material and sexual wants as well as their desire to behave ethically. They are at peace with their own souls.

Others are not so lucky. They fear and hate what they feel are their “base” desires. They see virtue only in self-denial, and so they also hate those who are at peace with themselves. To be at peace with yourself, they think, is to be a peace with the devil, to be self-indulgent and sinful. Never mind that those peaceful souls may actually be quite disciplined and work hard to maintain the harmony in their souls.

The Fantasy World of Self-Deniers. Self-deniers find inner peace in a more dishonest way. They enter a world in which appearance becomes reality. They deal with the parts of themselves that they hate by denying that they exist. They create a facade they substitute for reality. They believe, for instance, that you can protect children from sexuality by never mentioning it to them.

They are actually obsessed with sex, but obsessed with pretending it does not exist — at least not in the world of the good and pure. They are idealists. [Manicheism, by the way, is a kind of idealism]. Self-accepters know that sexuality can be dangerous — it can cause pain — but they also believe that it can be the core of a rich and loving relationship. They are realists. (But of course we do-gooders know that it is not really quite that simple.)

Psychic Surgery. So the peculiar irony is that the self-haters are usually quite self-righteous. Through an act of psychological fantasy they have separated what they hate about themselves and projected it outside onto others. That is why men who ferociously denounce homosexuals are so often caught soliciting sex with other men in public restrooms.

Self-haters achieve their soul's harmony through a particularly insidious form of dishonesty that we have all been taught to revere: idealism.

[Next: The Temptations of Idealism]