The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Elie Wiesel? Wilhelm Stekel? Rosalie Gabler? John Le Carré? Rollo May? August Strindberg? William Hale White? Otto M. Spangler? David Cornwell?

Dear Quote Investigator: Love and hate are intense emotions that are sometimes mingled together. The following statement makes a fascinating point:

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.

This adage has often been attributed to activist and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, but I think it might have a longer history. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Elie Wiesel did employ this expression in 1986, but it was already in circulation before he was born.

The earliest close match in English located by QI appeared in “The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche” by prominent Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Stekel. The text was translated from German into English by Rosalie Gabler and published in 1921. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

There is no love without hate; and there is no hate without love. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling. Disinclination, which is coloured by feeling, often only serves the purpose of concealing and protecting oneself against an inclination. Love and hate must go hand in hand; and the people we love most we hate also, because hate is grounded in the nature of love.

The German title of the work above was “Das Liebe Ich: Grundzüge Einer Neuen Dietätik der Seele”, but QI has not yet examined that book.

The quotation in German was present in the 1921 edition of Stekel’s work “Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens” (“Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life”): 2

Der Gegensatz von Liebe ist nicht Haß, sondern Gleichgültigkeit; der Gegensatz eines Gefühls kann nur die Gefühllosigkeit sein.

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Notes:

  1. 1921, The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche by Wilhelm Stekel M.D., Translation by Rosalie Gabler (Member of the British Psychological Society and of the Society for the Study of Orthopsychics), Chapter 2: The Fight of the Sexes, Quote Page 16, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1921, Title: Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens (English: Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life), Author Wilhelm Stekel, Volume 3: Störungen des Trieb-und Affektlebens, Chapter 10: Der Kampf der Geschlechter, Quote Page 229, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Wien. (Internet archive archive.org) link

Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space. In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response

Viktor E. Frankl? Stephen R. Covey? Rollo May? Thomas Walton Galloway? Sheldon P. Stoff? B. F. Skinner? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: It is possible to control ones reactions and feelings even when one is faced with frightening hardships. The psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl has been credited with the following:

Between stimulus and response there is space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

I doubt this ascription because no one provides a proper citation. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: Researchers have been unable to find this passage in the works of Viktor E. Frankl.

Instead, the words were popularized by the influential motivational author Stephen R. Covey; however, he disclaimed authorship. Covey stated that he read the passage in a book while he was on sabbatical in Hawaii, but he was unable to recall the name of the book or the author. Also, the precise phrasing employed by Covey varied over time. He may have been reading an article by the influential psychologist Rollo May. Details for this hypothesis are given further below.

An intriguing thematic precursor appeared in the 1917 book “The Use of Motives in Teaching Morals and Religion” by Thomas Walton Galloway. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Personality has three main parts: (1) the receiving portion (receptors) that looks out on stimuli (attention and appreciation are its great functions); (2) a responding side (effectors) that looks toward behavior or response; and (3) that which lies between stimulus and response whose function is to correlate and adjust behavior to stimulus. This third region is where our real personal values lie. This is where we grow most.

QI believes that the top candidate for Covey’s reading material was an article within a 1963 collection called “Behavioral Science and Guidance: Proposals and Perspectives”. The article titled “Freedom and Responsibility Re-Examined” was authored by the psychologist Rollo May. The following passage discussed “freedom” and a “pause”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Freedom is thus not the opposite to determinism. Freedom is the individual’s capacity to know that he is the determined one, to pause between stimulus and response and thus to throw his weight, however slight it may be, on the side of one particular response among several possible ones.

The words above differed from Covey’s, but an inexact recollection may have led Covey to paraphrase May’s notion.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Between Stimulus and Response There Is a Space. In That Space Is Our Power To Choose Our Response

Notes:

  1. 1917 Copyright, The Use of Motives in Teaching Morals and Religion by Thomas Walton Galloway (Professor of Zoology, Beloit College), Chapter 3: Some Essential Natural Elements in Education, Discussion of Figure 3, Quote Page 40, The Pilgrim Press, Boston, Massachusetts. (HathiTrust Full View) link
  2. 1963, Behavioral Science and Guidance: Proposals and Perspectives edited by Esther Lloyd-Jones and Esther M. Westervelt, Article: Freedom and Responsibility Re-Examined by Rollo May, Start Page 95, Quote Page 103, Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link