The story I am writing involves a character that is simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by the ways of a certain race. Is there a single word that can convey this feeling?

EDIT: It's not racism. I'm writing a pokemon fanfiction, and my character (a pokemon creature) feels disgust towards humans, due to their inability to function as one, among other things. I didn't think this would be an issue...

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    Mod notice: This site can discuss subjects which are offensive provided that that discussion is conducted in an academic context.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 7, 2015 at 9:16
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    @MarkBannister It's a pokemon fanfiction for christ's sake. Holy cap. I should've mentioned that
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 7, 2015 at 9:49
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    See this question as well. english.stackexchange.com/questions/142435/…
    – James
    Aug 7, 2015 at 11:30
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    @Kik And that was exactly what I intended to convey, and I expected the answers to be along the same line. I can't blame them. I'm new to the community, but I assume there are more people who think in a linguistic sense than those who are avid fantasy readers.
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 7, 2015 at 15:33
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    I believe that the more interesting/relevant meta-question is not "Is race the best word to describe the difference between pokemons and humans?" but "Is different race a key component of the question?"  Many answers that have been suggested here — fixation, obsession, morbid fascination, train wreck — apply equally to religious differences, physical deformity, or even personality.  How do we feel about Archie Bunker?  We are repulsed by his racism, but compelled to watch All in the Family in spite of (and/or because of) it.  Are they bad answers because they're not rooted in race? Aug 7, 2015 at 21:40

6 Answers 6


I don't think there is a single word in English that covers all the nuances that you want. My best suggestion would be fixation:

1 An obsessive interest in or feeling about someone or something: our fixation with diet and fitness

Unlike love or hatred, fixation doesn't have specifically positive or negative connotations towards the subject in question.

  • As with the word ''obsession'', ''fixation'' usually has a less than positive connotation. Aug 7, 2015 at 16:21
  • @JATerroba: The connotation is negative towards the person who is described as having a fixation, but that doesn't necessarily imply a negative attitude towards the thing they're fixated on. Aug 7, 2015 at 18:41
  • Ahh yes, I missed that on my first reading. Aug 7, 2015 at 19:05

While it's not a single word, I would suggest something like

Macabre fascination

This seems to get at the feeling you're describing better than any single word could, and can probably be used anywhere a single word could be used.


As Terry Pratchett once wrote hate is an attractive force. If you want to hate something properly you have to spend some quality time with it. If you are repulsed by something you don't hate it. You loath it. Don't want to be near it or get it on you. But a good hate is something you do up close and personal.

So yes, the word you're looking for is hate.

This fascination is also why two kids that hate each other at the start of a movie end up together.

  • I was hoping I could come across a word to describe what you define as "good hate".
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 7, 2015 at 10:01
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    @Anjunadeep Terry Pratchett was a master of English literature. I doubt I'll do better than he did. Aug 7, 2015 at 14:03


To criticize something far harsher than is fair, angrily and insultingly. Demonstrates both a strong dislike towards something, and an interest in that thing (because they did some research).


A very strong, even aggressive loyalty to one's own group, which leads to very negative views and behaviors of other groups.


What you need is awe:

a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.

One can be fascinated and full of fear at the same time. Then maybe he can hate the person/race. But one cannot hate someone and be fascinated from him in the same moment.


It seems you want to relate to hatred, more than fear. Still I feel it is a better choice than rest of the answers. It could mean a positive or negative feeling (can be awesome or awful) or mix of both. I have seen its usage to be fitting to your usecase:

  1. awe-inspiring : either impressive or shocking/dreadful depending on context
  2. in awe of : overcome with amazement or fear or both

As for your comment, I would rather use awe to describe Hitler's effect than any of the answers mentioned. Also it is hard to combine different emotions/feelings which are exerted differently

  1. hatred: you exert your anger on to someone (in the moment of hating, what made you hate is another story)
  2. amaze: something impresses you, emotion caused by outside entity
  3. fear: someone's actions make you percieve threat, again caused by external entity

Consider causation, for hatred to exist you need to be fearful, disgusted or something that causes you to be indifferent, which is very contrasting to fascination.

  • I disagree. Say, for example, Hitler. I do not fear him because he never influenced my life in any way. But I am fascinated by his oratory skills, though I hate his views. (Note, this is not my personal opinion on Hitler, just an example.)
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 8, 2015 at 3:59
  • @Anjunadeep Hi I updated my answer.
    – user568109
    Aug 8, 2015 at 14:58

As a single term ambivalence may suggest the idea of contrasting feelings toward someone or something:

  • The state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone:

    • the law’s ambivalence about the importance of a victim’s identity government; ambivalence toward the arts. (ODO)

I think also the expression mixed feelings may well convey the idea:

  • A partly positive and partly negative reaction to something, as in:

    • I have mixed feelings about this trip; I'd love to go but don't want to ride in that tiny car. (AHD)
  • I suppose this would be the most appropriate word to describe what I need, because it seems there is no such word that conveys exactly what I want. I guess I can incorporate this word somehow, thank you.
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 7, 2015 at 9:53
  • By "this" I mean "Ambivalence", I should've mentioned that in my edit.
    – Anjunadeep
    Aug 7, 2015 at 10:01
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    It seems to me that "ambivalence" and "mixed feelings" are too soft/benign to be good answers to the question.  I don't have a good answer, but I believe "conflicted" comes closer than either of the above. Aug 7, 2015 at 21:21
  • Yes, "ambivalence" certainly evokes the idea of being undecided about something. Not a good fit here... Aug 12, 2015 at 7:25

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