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Is Hate a Mental Illness?

May 29, 2014 — Categories: ,

Is “misogyny” [the hatred of women] listed in the DSM V? Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage last week in Santa Barbara was horrific. Seven dead and thirteen injured. But his YouTube message and Manifesto served to multiply the horror. Scary as it is, he did leave us with insight into the mind of a young man who hated women.

Is “misogyny” [the hatred of women] listed in the DSM V?  Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage last week in Santa Barbara was horrific. Seven dead and thirteen injured. But his YouTube message and Manifesto served to multiply the horror. Scary as it is, he did leave us with insight into the mind of a young man who hated women. Alert: his YouTube video is disturbing and you may not want to view it, but if you do, it is available online. Sometimes it is important to stare evil in the face. This is not the raving  of a madman but the carefully reasoned justification for turning his guns on women whom he hated because they weren’t having sex with him.

Rodger describes himself as “a supreme gentleman, a true alpha male” and he doesn’t understand why girls didn’t want him. He said, “ I wanted sex, love and adoration from girls...If I can’t have you, I will destroy you...I will punish you.” He speaks in the voice of male entitlement and with a somewhat pathetic plea for sympathy. If only women had found him attractive, had had sex with him, none of this would have happened.

When I heard the news about the shootings in Santa Barbara, I immediately thought of the Montreal Massacre: December 6, 1989. Twenty five years ago, Marc Lepine went to Ecole Polytechnique, separated the women engineering students from the men and opened fire, killing 14 women. He yelled, “I hate feminists.” He blamed women for his personal failures.

I also thought of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the face by terrorists because she campaigned for education for girls. It is all gender based violence, violence directed at women simply because they are women and they are making their own choices.

It would be easy to write Elliot Rodger off as another crazy person who was able to get access to guns and ammunition. But this would be a mistake. Elliot Rodger, Marc Lepine, and even the Taliban terrorists all ascribe to the same ideology about women: “If I can’t control you, then I will punish you.”

The war on women is not only a cold war but sometimes a hot war. Everyday women die because of this hot war. This is not an aberration; it is the dominant narrative of our culture. If you don’t subscribe to this narrative, then stand up and speak out. Speak out to the young men in your families, on your sports teams, in your youth groups. Use this tragedy to start a conversation. It’s important.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
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Posted by Debra S. Michels at May 29, 2014 07:25 PM
Maybe we could start a campaign to put misogyny into the diagnostic standard manual. Judith Herman, M.D. a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard University, describes how feminists changed the DSM to remove "masochism" as a diagnosis of "women liking to be hurt" into PTSD, which applied to both men and women. (She describes this in her book, "Trauma and Recovery." She talks about how very political the psychiatry, and the DSM really are - her book is a really interesting read...)

In 12 step programs, at least the ones I attend, there is a cautionary note that we read before each meeting. It tells us that, "It is okay to say you feel triggered by a particular group - race, religion, gender, ethnicity - because they remind you of your perpetrator or qualifier, but anger needs to be expressed at particular individuals, not whole groups of people."

Presumably, the Higher Power would help one overcome this tendency to over-generalize and demonize - combined with one's own efforts to correct "stinkin' thinkin.'"

I had a wonderful Hindu philosopher-teacher once, who said that anyone who isn't grounded in a sense of being dearly loved by our Creator - and who doesn't love everyone else, too - is delusional, out of touch with reality. He knew that this would mean huge numbers of people are delusional, but he said it anyway. But it seems to me that people who actually succumb to such hatred and act it out are the craziest of us all.

Does the FaithTrust Institute ever spearhead movements to make misogyny a hate crime? I wish I knew where to begin!

Thank you!

Posted by Diane Weible at May 29, 2014 08:22 PM
Thank you, Dr. Fortune, for connecting the dots! As I was watching the You Tube video this morning the thought went through my mind that it will be so easy for people to write him off as crazy and that his comments and actions don't reflect the majority of people. It's true, they don't. But as you point out, the dominant narrative of our culture is something that many--both male and female--do subscribe to or follow, maybe without even realizing they are following it. Connecting the dots reminds all of us of our own need to speak out.

Making Men's Behavior a Mental Illness

Posted by Karen at May 30, 2014 12:12 PM
I'm wondering if you are aware of Paula Caplan's work at trying to implement the "Delusional Dominating Personality Disorder" that would have been along the same lines as what you suggest. She was laughed at by the mostly (>=75%) men who are in the positions to decide about DSM. As someone who has studied this via women studies for years, I think it is a very bad idea to ask a dominant group of men who already live on a sane man/mental illness man idea continuium to create another diagnosis. It gives the idea that there is a stereotypical sane 'man' = partial human. We need to remove patriarchal errors not contribute. Until the mental health standard is for being 'fully human', including men/women and until men do not dominant the powerful positions to make decisions and there has been significant progress for men to change in their views of women and other humans as inferior including the mentally ill, we can't begin to address anything IN TRUTH and ACCURACY to what is actually happening with violence. The problem is that the very structure of 'mental illness' is ultimately based on a particular type of man (partially human) as the mental health standard. The categories are incorrect. When the false idea is that normal is healthy majority then abnormal is unhealthy minority. There has never been a definition that is 'normal' and my research shows that 'normal' was originally based on a white, scholarly, christian, eurocentric man. This structure of this Man as mental health standard must be demolished and all subsequent ideas that skew and stereotype behaviors are 75% ineffective of engaging in any truth. When you take that standard and create another deviation based on stereotyping humans, you are creating horrendous situations for upcoming generations. For if the stereotyping of men/women as 2 categories is clearly a problem, then how do you think future generations are ever going to see their way out of this when from those 2 categories, our institutions have created hundreds more. This only enables us to make the harsh judgements on someone in an hour's time which only increases everyone's invisiblity of their real lives. This is no solution for those who break the rules of men's violence as to who can use violence and who can't, or for insane men to comply with supposedly sane men's violence, but it is a disaster for any real attempt at bringing this world to a place of non-violence. I've been not just a student but working on violence prevention seriously since 1987. We can do better to create a better world where violence is rare. For more discussion, contact me at or visit my blog at Thank you for writing on the subject of hatred of women.

When women act on their own

Posted by Catherine Thiemann at May 30, 2014 12:15 PM
You are right: Elliot Rodger's video is intensely disturbing. His "entitled" attitude reminds me of two men I dated in college. When I turned down their sexual invitations, they acted as if I had denied them a fundamental right. Thankfully, in both cases their violence was only verbal. At the time, I didn't recognize what was happening; indeed I felt partly responsible for their pain. But now I understand that those two men grew up in a culture in which men are the actors and women the acted-upon. Men are the subject and women the object. When those two men encountered a woman who wanted to act on her own, without reference to their agenda, they became enraged.
I'm grateful to the FaithTrust Institute for your work not only supporting victims and survivors of gender-based violence, but helping us all (men and women alike) become more aware of our own attitudes and biases that feed into the war on women.

DSM5 and Misogyny

Posted by Kate Johnson at May 30, 2014 12:16 PM
No, it does not belong in the DSM 5 although they do need counseling to address the issues that promote their evil hatred of women. As a Licensed Counselor, although domestic violence is in the DSM, I would object to misogyny being there. I treat many with mental illness, along with victims of abuse AND often the abusers themselves. There is a difference between someone with PTSD and someone who hates. It is a belief system that they and culture perpetuate, it is not a mental illness. It is evil. Would we say that the culture has a mental illness or moral failure? With it being so prevalent, it is systemic, not illness.

DSM illness

Posted by Shirley Fessel at May 30, 2014 12:49 PM
I have long thought that the consistent cluster of symptoms of abusive men constituted an illness that needed to be classified. At one point my supervisor and I had both been in abusive marriages and we could predict the statements and rage episodes of former partners based in the cycle. I am glad to know that someone else was able to impact the DSM language. Perhaps we will see the recurring insanity for what it is in the psychiatrist profession after all. Without these changes, people such as the Simpson jury can continues to ignore or minimize the traits that are so obvious in other contexts.

Is Hate a Mental Illness Response

Posted by Laurie at May 30, 2014 02:11 PM
I watch Criminal Minds regularly & feel that explain how criminals minds are formed from an early age. Each episode holds similarities to the way my ex-husband's thinking played-out. He had been trained from very early childhood to hate women, be violent, care only about himself, taught to enjoy killing animals and the list goes on and on. I'd love to see a news program interviewing the writer's of that program. In my opinion, some of our societal habits of looking the other way when sinful & criminal behavior is taking place is assisting in the "training" of our future perpetrators. I have watched over & again as child protective services goes through a "process" of "interviewing" abused children only to find that they don't trust the social worker who is interviewing so they don't tell the same story to them that they told to their mother, teacher, counselor, playground monitor, nanny, daycare, etc. Child Social Services needs for do a better job of "interviewing" children to find out what kind of abuse they are suffering by scheduling a series of "art events" or something of this sort, that would include all the safe people the child's life. The social worker could be in the same room, but maybe off to the side reading or working on something so that way the child would feel more comfortable. I've witnessed a court process where the social services "found no proof" of child abuse so the Judge ordered UN-SUPERVISED VISITATION or FULL-CUSTODY of the child to the perpetrator, further traumatizing the child. This action also gives the child a HOPELESSNESS that nobody will ever help, and it fuels the fire of the perpetrator to threaten the child even more as he gets more confident in his sinful & criminal behavior. Often I say to people, "We teach our daughter that if they see a "weirdo", walk on the other side of the street". Unfortunately now I wonder if it would be better to tell them to be most suspicious of the guy who "looks perfect in public" :(

Is Hate a Mental Illness

Posted by Bonnie Nicholas at Jun 03, 2014 05:53 PM
What about Mascupathy -