Resentment Is Like Taking Poison and Waiting for the Other Person To Die

Carrie Fisher? Nelson Mandel? Malachy McCourt? Emmet Fox? Bert Ghezzi? Susan Cheever? Alan Brandt? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A vivid simile depicts the self-destructiveness of a common bitter emotion. Here are two versions:

  1. Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.
  2. Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill someone else.

This figurative language has been credited to the actress Carrie Fisher, the statesman Nelson Mandela, the author Malachy McCourt, and others. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in the 1980 book “The Angry Christian” by Bert Ghezzi. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

Resentment is like a poison we carry around inside us with the hope that when we get the chance we can deposit it where it will harm another who has injured us. The fact is that we carry this poison at extreme risk to ourselves.

This simile is not identical, but it shares key elements with the target saying. QI believes that this figurative framework evolved over time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Resentment Is Like Taking Poison and Waiting for the Other Person To Die


  1. 1980, The Angry Christian by Bert Ghezzi, Quote Page 99, Servant, Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Verified with scans; thanks to the B.L. Fisher Library of the Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky)