Envy… and Gratitude

This is an excerpt to this video entitled, “Introduction to Kleinian Theory”.

I. Rejection of Death Instinct

  • Klein rejects Freud’s Death Instinct theory (20-25)
    • Reasons for rejecting the theory (25)
      • Klein argues sufficient ego exists at birth to experience anxiety (20)
      • She emphasizes the role of primitive defense mechanisms and object relations (20)

II. Splitting and the Paranoid-Schizoid Position

  • Splitting is necessary for the developing mind (40)
    • Ideal breast vs. persecutory breast (41)
    • Super ego identified with the bad breast (42)
    • Conscience identified with the good breast (42)
  • Two ways to protect the good from the bad (43)
    • Projection (paranoia) (43)
    • Idealization (depletion of self) (43)
  • The paranoid-schizoid position (44)
    • Term “schizoid” refers to splitting, not schizoid personality (44)
    • Splitting of both object and ego (44)
  • Persecutory object can be internal or external (45)

III. Passion and the Paranoid-Schizoid Position

  • Passion belongs to the paranoid-schizoid position (46)
  • Love, commitment, and ideals are formed here (46)
  • The sacred resides in the paranoid-schizoid position (46-47)
    • Examples: religious reverence, secular sacred (life of a child, democracy) (46-47)

IV. Dialectical Thinking

  • Mental health as an oscillation between paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions (48)
  • Fairbairn’s concept of mental health (48)
  • Author’s concept of a transitional area (48)

V. Envy

  • Envy is a two-body phenomenon (distinguished from jealousy) (49)
  • Envy can lead to destructive behavior (spoiling) (50)
  • Envy in patients can lead to backlash against progress (50-51)
  • Envy of the analyst (52)
    • Can be experienced as a defense against unconscious destructive wishes (Kernberg) (52)
    • Can be an attempt to resume a development process (Kohut) (52)
  • The envious super ego (53)
  • Projection of Envy (53)
  • Defenses against Envy (53-54)
    • Spoiling
    • Devaluing
    • Rigid idealization
    • Projection of Envy

VI. Idealization

  • Kernberg vs. Kohut on Idealization (54-55)
    • Kernberg: defense against destructive impulses (54)
    • Kohut: attempt to resume a development process (54)

VII. Countertransference

  • Winnicott on hate in the countertransference (55)
    • Some patients distrust analyst’s goodness and need to experience their hate (55)

VIII. Analyst’s Bias

  • Analysts may have a bias towards linking or separating (56)
  • Importance of analyst’s development of a “bisexual orientation” (56)

IX. Attacks on Linking

  • Beon describes attacks on linking in schizophrenia (56)

X. Use of Analyst as Container

  • Patients may use the analyst as a container for bad objects (56-57)
  • Three possible responses of the analyst (57)
    • Unaffected (blocks process) (57)
    • Rejects the bad object (patient sees analyst as persecutory) (57)
    • Contains the bad object (leads to relief and Envy) (57)

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.

Destructive Envy

If I cannot have what you have I’ll seek to destroy that coveted thing. Sometime this destruction is abstract.

Greed

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

Melanie Klein tells us that gratitude is the antidote to envy. To be thankful is to be able to see the glass half full. Gratitude allows one to feel satisfied with what one has achieved or bestowed.

Bibliography

Carveth, D. (2016) Introduction to Kleinian Theory 4. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb-L_QXNyQU&t=2s

notes;

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.

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