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ZEPHYRA's avatar

Can a person be really and truly benevolent, kind and giving yet on the flip side spiteful, hate-filled and vindictive?

Asked by ZEPHYRA (21499points) December 20th, 2014

I tend to believe a person is either kind-hearted and understanding or plain nasty and filled with hatred. One cannot be both. How can one be a philanthropist, true socialist and generous and then lash out even at his own family with the worst words a human could utter? The individual in question was taunted and teased throughout his life for weight issues and later envied for professional success. Now seems like he is lashing out at everyone for what he has been through – most times aiming the pain at the wrong people.
What surprises me is his genuine generosity, intelligence and kindness. Next moment a torrent of the most hurtful words come out at whoever happens to be the unlucky one. Can we be so good yet so nasty simultaneously?
A number of people have suffered in life in various ways but they do not go and cut others’ feelings into pieces! What really crushed me, was that he used a few things I had revealed in confidence to him against me in front of others. The excuse? “You have to forgive me, I am in poor health and cannot handle my anger.”
So, are most of us angels and demons or just one of the two?

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15 Answers

hominid's avatar

Humans are more complicated than we can even imagine.

@ZEPHYRA: “The excuse? “You have to forgive me, I am in poor health and cannot handle my anger.””

Excuse may not be the most helpful word here. What about “explanation”. It doesn’t mean you want to be around someone like this. But it may help to understand.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@hominid true, we never know what makes each of us tick.

canidmajor's avatar

If he recognizes that his behavior was inexcusable for any reason, he should apologize, not demand your forgiveness. Yes, poor health, pain, major stress etc can lead someone to act badly, lash out, snap, but revealing confidences in a hurtful manner is unacceptable.
If he feels no remorse, but only makes demands about how you should react (forgiving him), this is not a generous spirited person.

To answer the Q as asked, not usually, no. Unless one is truly bi-polar, such generosity is often to further an agenda.
If someone is nice to their friends, their family, and their colleagues, but is rude and/or mean to the waitress or salesperson, they are not a nice person.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Oh yes, remorse and apologies all there. “Please bear with me as I am hurting!” And bear with him we do, willing to understand and be there. All well and good till something snaps again and the other person’s feelings are splattered all over the floor!

canidmajor's avatar

True remorse? If the behavior keeps repeating, it doesn’t sound like it. I have experienced very poor health and chronic pain, and snapped and behaved badly, and learned from it.. I learned to keep my mouth shut. I learned to avoid contact with people I cared about on bad (worse?) days to avoid being a nasty jerk. If his health is so very poor that he cannot control the nastiness, perhaps he needs to learn some behavior modification techniques.

And the revealing of confidences is inexcusable, whether he is ill or in pain or not.

You don’t have to put up with this.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Is it possible he has anger management issues or just doesn’t know how to handle high stress? Some people struggle with those things, even when they are good people. Unfortunately, it is usually those closest to them (family and friends) that see the bad reactions to high stress and anger management issues.

Coloma's avatar

Everyone is a dichotomy in one way or another, but blatant abuse is not acceptable, ever.
This person needs therapy to get over his issues and his crappy past is not a valid excuse to spew abuse on others. I am a firm believer that using our past as an excuse for bad behavior in the present is a cop out.
I have known people whose “giving” is actually only a means to prop up their own self image as being seen as altruistic when, in reality, they are highly manipulative and controlling.

This could show up in the form of guilt trips, calling in “favors”, creating a sense of obligation, all not worth the price of the “gift.”
I despise false altruism that is really manipulation and control in disguise. Woe is the person that then does not show enough gratitude for said generosity and/or isn’t ready to jump when the favors get called in.
True giving is free from all strings, expectations of reciprocation, control and is never used as leverage.

ucme's avatar

This is an example of the duality of man, consider the guy in the Mickey Mouse costume at Disneyland.
A public persona of happiness, fun loving, a renowned global brand for children of all ages.
Then there’s the man behind the mask, a bad tempered, miserable bastard who fucking despises what he has been reduced to & hates kids even more :D

jca's avatar

I find on the internet, there are people that I know of in real life who are evil, yet portray themselves as kind, philanthropic and philosophical in their postings. On the other hand, there are people who in real life are, I’m sure, just regular people that are liked by many, yet their postings (here and other places) are harsh and nasty.

janbb's avatar

My best guy friend was kind and considerate and giving and then broke off the friendship in a very cruel way and has shunned me in public ever since. He has “issues” and I still don’t know which was the real him, was he a charming psychopath or what button got pushed.

Coloma's avatar

I dumped a “friend” in 2011 after waking up to her manipulative behaviors. This woman portrayed herself as some sort of uber saintly type, just loved “giving”..but…over a period of 8 years I became aware how self serving her generosity really was. Inspite of her complete and utter denial of any self serving behaviors everything she did was done with the intention of calling in future favors, controlling her adult kids with guilt, running to others rescue without being asked, then lamenting how ungrateful everyone was. She was so codependent and martyred and untruthful I could no longer ignore it and cut her off for good. Gah!

prairierose's avatar

I certainly have met my fair share of people who I consider phony. They act one way but underneath they are completely different. A particular person, in a prestigious position in the community, comes to mind. He portrayed himself as a caring, fun-loving, charismatic person and most people, me included, liked him a lot. As it turned out, he was a wife-beater. So.. one never knows what some people are really like inside. Some people are deceitful.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I think it is possible. He might very well be a kind and considerate person but our reaction and interaction with our family can bring out the best and worst in us. There is at times an expectation that we must excuse certain behaviours from people because they are family. Counterwise, some people behave with less regard to family members than they would to those outside of their family. They seem to feel being a family member gives them some sort of free pass.

Perhaps this man is reviewing his life at the moment. Perhaps for some reason he’s had cause to examine relationships and events in his life and it’s left him raw and emotional. I’m not excusing any cruelty or poor behavour, but perhaps he’s not in his usual frame of mind and that’s affecting how he’s reacting to things. You said at the end he blamed ill health. I don’t know how ill he is, but perhaps this is a life-changing illness that he’s trying to come to terms with and while he finds his way through this, he’s looking back on past ills (perceived or real) and because he’s angry because he’s sick, he’s taking it out on those who love him. Probably the only people he feels he can lash out at who will (perhaps) forgive his foibles.

kritiper's avatar

No. A person is a little of one and a lot of the other. It’s too much of a charade to do both equally.

DWW25921's avatar

My X-wife was very bi-polar and you described her well. She would regularly be belligerent than something in her brain would switch over and she would have no idea why were were arguing. I was willing to help her through it but keeping up appearances with her family was more important to her than getting help. A person in a situation like that can’t be helped unless they admit there’s a problem.

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