Envy is the idealizing of an object outside oneself, with the wish to devour the coveted object. This object is something possessed by another person or persons. The trappings of envy is that one cannot find peace through separation of oneself from the envied object and the envied other. The resultant is hatred and the need to destroy the other.
Envy can also be seen as a projection of goodness into another person, so that one idealizes the other while devaluing oneself, and eventually hating the other. Envy is a painful emotion and is almost not in the awareness of the individual. It is also integral to being human, and hence it exists in every reasonably living functioning person.
Envy vs. Jealousy
Envy is exists in terms of two persons– it involves you and me. I want what you have, because that is what I lack. Jealousy involves a third person. I am not allowing that other person to take you / your attention/ love, etc away from me.
If I cannot have what you have I’ll seek to destroy that coveted thing. Sometime this destruction is abstract.
Greed is a means to extract all the goodness from the other. Greed doesn’t necessarily seek to destroy. Greed is to consume without gratitude. Hence greed never gets satisfied.
Defenses against feelings of envy
Vanity or grandiosity is a defense against envy. To make oneself more superior to overcome envy of another. Self idealization, feeling omnipotent, not needing or depending on others.
Invidiousness, is a means to act so that the other becomes envious of you. To projective identifying or evoking emotions of envy in the other. The problem this causes the person to fear the envious eye of other.
Spoiling, devaluing, rigid idealization, projection of envy (a superego that attacks and devalues own achievements) are examples of means to counteract feelings of envy.
When envy is strong, even what’s seems as a good object becomes a source of pain.
In normal experience good experience predominates over bad. Pathology aries when bad predominates good internally and externally.
Positive use of Envy
Constructive envy is one that inspires one to work harder to improve oneself. If I am envious of somebody’s abilities, e.g. piano playing, I practice harder. We also witness the energy derived from envy in the masterpieces created by highly creative people.
Gratitude as the Antidote to Envy
Carveth, D. (2016) Introduction to Kleinian Theory 4. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb-L_QXNyQU&t=2s
Pathologically violent projective identification, where the object (ego) is splintered, attacked. Reality is seen as persecutory and hated. When envy is intense, the perception of the good object is as painful as the bad object.
46:00 Psychopathology is the result of early decision to try to base your life upon evading pain (Bion). Psychotherapy is the process of turning this around. To help the individual face the pain and move on to more functional existence.