Thinking, or responding, as a psychologist, to hate crimes/mass killings, like in Orlando

How do we distinguish a phobia (such as homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia) from hatred, given that they are bound to overlap among many? We can theorize, e.g., that such phobias underlie hatred, often. However, sometimes such phobias have taken the form of wanting not to know, not to associate with, or not to understand a given population. I don’t know that we can assume that hatred is at the root of such phobias or identical with them.

Some political and religious groups and individuals have encouraged a fear-based demonization or dehumanization of large demographics like LGBTQI, alien, Afro-American, immigrant, Islamic, Armenian, Roma, and Jewish, among others. I suspect that a homophobia that may have been wide-spread already has often been encouraged and augmented by such ambitious powers and, in so doing, leveraged to increase blame-throwing, hostilities, disempowerment, persecution, diminishment of rights, and massacres.

I believe we cannot be certain which of these guided this Orlando killer’s behaviors, or whether it was even more primarily sheer self-hatred or misplaced zealotry (e.g., seeking a magically luxurious afterlife).

Even his background in domestic violence may not be clearly explained as based in fear or rage or hatred, as I am given to the general theory (but not quite the blanket assumption) that domestic violence and efforts to control partners’ behaviors are borne of deep insecurity and consequent anxiety.

I don’t mean to question or undermine our grief, outrage, concern, and compassionate struggle to reduce or stop such emotionally reactive and terribly catastrophic violence. I only mean to express concern and hope for our clarity in using our skills as psychologists to address it.

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