Psychologically and sociologically, this tendency toward othering might have originated in humanity's tribal past, which required bands to cohere together as a close-knit groups and struggle against other tribal bands. The tendency is to feel stronger connections and allegiances to those who are "like you," and have an easier time empathizing with them, while rejecting or deriding "the Other" as inferior, strange, dangerous, savage, or foreign--often in connection with stereotypes or while simplistically lumping diverse groups together in a single category. Partly this mental process allows the thinker to do violence or harm to the Other without feeling corresponding guilt for one's actions, which can make othering a dangerous phenomenon in multi-ethnic or biracial societies. On the other hand, othering may have a positive function in helping form one's identity--as it is one way to create a sense of self by contrasting one's own group with external ones. In its original use , Said's interest was how European writers "othered" the cultures of the Middle East and Asia, depicting them as mystical rather than rational in mental outlook, pleasure-seeking and indulgent rather than disciplined and abstemious in behavior, and tyrannical rather than democratic in political tendencies. At best, western writers would use the Orient as a contrasting point with their own cultures, and at worst, psychologically project their own repressed (and unsavory) desires and practices on them. However, the term is widely applicable even outside of the Oriental context.


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