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The Concept of Self- Hatred Among Outgroups, Part I

Updated on February 9, 2013
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Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.


Why Am I Different And Not Like Everyone Else?

There is the ingroup and there is the outgroup. It is usually the ingroup that has the most power and influence. The ingroup furthermore decides how history is written. In addition to the aforementioned, the ingroup also decides what is and is not acceptable according to the prevailing norms and standards of a given era. In essence, it is the ingroup that rules and makes the agenda for society.

Now what if you are not part of the ingroup? Well, indeed. If you are in the outgroup, you are often pressured to assimilate and to make yourself to be as similar to the ingroup as possible. Oftentimes, members of the outgroup learn to forget and to sublimate their outgroup identity, often becoming completely absorbed into the ingroup. Now the outgroup is no more and have "disappeared" and/or became extinct so to speak.

History is abound with various outgroups who were forced to assmilate into the ingroup. Many of these members of a specific outgroup be it racial, ethnic, or religious, eventually lost their original religion, race, ethnicity, culture, and/or language becoming absorbed into the religion, race, ethnicity, culture, and/or language of the ingroup. This result in members of the religious, racial, ethnic, cultural, and/or linguistic outgroup becoming indistinguishable from members of the religious, racial, ethnic, cultural, and/or linguistic ingroup.

Members of the outgroup either did this because they believed that in order to live a better life, it was best to assimilate into the ingroup culture. Other times, ingroup members took it upon themselves to forcibly or at least attempt to forcibly assimilate the outgoup into their society e.g. there was an attempted Romanianization of Ukrainians in Bukovina(former Romanian province, now divided between Romania and the Ukraine) from 1918-28 and of Hungarians in Transylvania ( a province in Romania) in the 1950s under the communist regime of Gheorghe Gheorhghiu-Dej. When the outgroup elected to remained apart from and not assimilate into the ingroup, the former was often considered "the other" and "less than" by the latter thus being not considered as full-fledged members of that particular society in question.

Members of outgroups throughout history were often excluded from society by the ingroup. Outgroup members were often denied basic human rights and basic human amenities. Furthermore, they were often considered to be less than full human beings and often dehumanized by members of the ingroup. Members of outgroups were often relegated to segregated areas where they were given the worst living quarters. They were also given jobs that members of the ingroup did not want or considered undesirable.

There were times that members of ingroups considered members of outgroups to be threats and contagions, thus advocating that either they be permanently put in a lower status or if they are an extreme threat, to be eradicated or "cleansed" from that society e.g. the holocausts of Natives in the Americas, Armenians by the Turks, the European Jews by the Nazis, the Croatians and Bosnians by the Serbians, and the Tutsi by the Hutu. If the holocaust was not completely physical, it was often a combination of physical, psychic, mental, and psychological elements which occurred to African peoples and other peoples of color under Western hegemony for four centuries.

Members of outgroup often have it inculcated to them that they are inferior and not as worthy as the ingroup. As a result of this consistent inculcation that they are inferior, members of outgroups learn to view themselves as such. In essence, members of the outgroup internalize the hatred that members of the ingroup have towards them. In addition, to their self-hatred and self-abnegation, they learn to glorify and adulate members of the ingroup. There are instances which members of outgroups treat each other with the utter contempt and disrespect. Conversely, they idolize and adulate the ingroup who subject them to second class status.

Many members of the outgroup believe that since they are inferior, they begin to act negatively and contend that they are not worthy of the greater and/or better things in life. They start to believe that they deserve what bad treatment they receive from members of the ingroup. For example, until very recently, Blacks in Western societies contend that because of their race, they were somewhat less than Caucasians. Many Black people detested their own skin color, features, and hair texture in addition to believing believed that Africa was an uncivilized continent bereft of culture while idolizing and imitating aspects of Western culture whether it was European, American, or other Western cultures. There are some Black people in Western societies who believe that because of their race, they are destined to ever remain in the lower socioeconomic strata of society.

While some members of the outgroup can be easily assimiliable, there are others that are not so easily assimiliable. In fact, some members of the outgroups are considered to be unassimiliable. For such outgroups, the more approximate they are to the characteristics of ingroup members, the more acceptable they are. For example, in the United States, for Blacks and Latinos, the lighter skinned, finer features and hair texture in addition to the more European/Caucasoid they appear, the more they are accepted by the ingroup Caucasian American society thus the more socioeconomic and psychosocial privileges the former receives. Those members of the outgroup who are considered completely and totally unassimilable e.g. dark-skinned Blacks and Latinos with pronounced racial/ethnic features are often viewed as threats by the ingroup Caucasians. This translates into fewer members of this totally unassimilable ingroup are granted access to the better jobs and accoutrements of the ingroup society.

This outgroup status does not only pertain to religious/ racial/ethnic/ cultural/linguistic groups but to other groups considered by the ingroup to be outsiders such as LGBT people, nontraditionally religious/other spiritual people, women, mentally and physically challenged people. The latter are still considered outgroups and they have encountered discrimination from the ingroup from time to time like the first outgroup have. For instance, during the witchcraft hysteria in Europe and in the United States from the late medieval to the early modern period, the disproportionate people who were ostracized and penalized for practicing so-called witchcraft were women who were outside the confines of traditional social and religious mores. In some European villages, there was an eradication of entire female populations. The purpose of this so-called witchcraft hysteria was to make women even more submissive to the male religious authorities.

Women throughout history was relegated to either second class status or considered to be personas non gratas. Until the 20th century, women were considered property by men to be used and/or abused any way males saw fit. Women were considered the property of their fathers and then their husbands. Only in a few ancient societies were women considered equal to men. Social and, in particular, religious authorities believed that women were non-persons who were supposed to be subject to men, whether it was their brothers, fathers, husbands, and/or sons. Even in the 20th century, in some cultures, women are still considered to be the outgroup by the male ingroup. In some ingroup male cultures, if women do not confirm to exact strictures, they are often physically ostracized and/or eliminated. In other ingroup male societies, women are not granted free access to education and jobs. They are assigned to roles which the male ingroup believe are suitable for them.

LGBT people are more of an outgroup than women. While women in many societies have achieved somewhat equal status, LGBT people are often marginalized by the heterosexual ingroup. Until quite recently, LGBT people could openly identify themselves for fear of losing their jobs, housing, and/or even their lives. LGBT people were often forced into being assimilable and appearing as heterosexuals. Also until very very recently, LGBT people in military service were under the dictum, do not ask, do not tell. Even now, LGBT people are not safe in the military as they are often targetted because of their lifestyle orientation.

Outgroup members are numerous as the stars in the sky. They can include introverts in an extrovert society, single people in a married society, childfree couples in a pronatalist society, and old people in a youthful society. These outgroups have been or continue to be ostracized by members of the ingroup in one way or another. For instance, older people are routinely terminated and/or laid off to make room for new blood. The reason that is often given for their terminations are that older people are too expensive to maintain and it is better to hire younger people, paying them less thus keeping company expenses down. Older people are also not valued in this youth driven society. They are considered useless, an extra mouth, and in the way.

However, older people who appear more youthful are amply rewarded and considered more positively in this society. In essence, they are more assimilable and youthful hence more useful and employable. In this youth driven society, older people who look youthful are more likely to be employed and/or employable than older people who look their age. This explains the increase in plastic surgery and botox reconstruction for those of a particular age so to speak. Older people are rewarded in many ways than one for appearing as youthful as long they can! Look at celebrities such as Joan Rivers and Joan Collins who appear thirty years younger than their actual ages. The reward for this is that they are still working!

© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams


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