“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

During the Gulf War in 1991 Iraq attacked Israel with SCUD missiles. Interestingly, the number of people who were actually killed by the missiles was considerably smaller than the number of people killed by heart attacks during the missile strikes.

A similar phenomenon occurs with “fatal pleasure”, a situation in which people have heart attacks during sex. In both cases an individual is highly aroused and this puts more strain on the heart and other bodily systems.

In fact, Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky, author of the fabulous book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, writes that if you look closely at what the heart is up to during an activated state you can’t tell whether the individual is about to commit murder or about to have an orgasm.

In extreme love and hate what your sympathetic nervous system and various parts of your body are doing looks remarkably similar.


3 thoughts on ““The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

  1. You know, I have always kind of rebelled against this quote that indifference (and not hate) is the opposite of love. For example, according to this then, it would seem like the opposite of “up” is not “down” but flat/the ground. Or the opposite of hungry is not stuffed but instead sated. As such, I believe there is still merit to my disagreement with the love-hate-indifference quote, your remark about how love and hate are so physiologically similar does offer a very astute counterpoint. Interesting stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a great point, Jake! The rest of the quote is: “…The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” So it seems like he just sees indifference as the opposite of everything. Not suuuure I buy all of that, which is why I only used the first part 😉

      Also, this quote brings to mind all of those Schachter studies from the 1960’s where they injected people with epinepherine to increase physiological arousal and then were able to convince them that they were either angry or excited by manipulating the environment.


      1. I had no idea the quotation continued on like that… haha I can see why you only stuck with the first part. And oh man! The Schacter study is a good example of equivocal physiological states resulting in opposite reactions. Great point!


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