Its Roots, Its Meaning
Jealousy is an emotion and refers to “the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something” or someone. The individual who is thus plagued fears that another is more important, smarter, has more, is a better lover, prettier, richer, more desired, can afford more, is a more desirable person, and much more. We can see this in the biblical story of Cain and Abel, and Joseph and his coat of many colors and his brothers. Cain sold his birthright to Abel for a bowl of porridge. Abel envied his brother, who wanted to be the favorite of his father and finagled this with finesse. The brothers of Joseph were jealous of him because he was the favorite of Jacob, or so it seemed to them, so they threw him into a pit in order to destroy him, their rage and jealousy were so strong.
Jealousy is painful.
It is an ugly emotion and all who suffer from it are unhappy as it
appears with strong and ugly feelings. We
have seen it during the Hitler era when the Germans happily tormented their
Jewish neighbors by demolishing their businesses, calling them vile names, and
ultimately destroying them. They
were jealous of the Jewish people, who were successful in carrying out their
livelihood, and possibly had accumulated a few more earthly possessions through
their hard work and rational spending practices.
Their intellectual superiority irked them and the professionals who had
attended schools to achieve were spat upon by those who abandoned their
education in grade school. The
reasons for the Jewish intellectuals and achievements were a source of jealousy
to those who had no interest in that aspect of their lives.
Jealousy was there regardless of the jealous ones' part in their lack of
achievements and the work that had preceded the failure of their earlier
Jealousy is a painful,
destructive emotion. It can be very
destructive to the person thus plagued. It
often begins in early childhood when the afflicted one feels diminished,
unloved, and unhappy. Their belief
in their inferiority easily ends in destructive behavior toward the object of
their misfortune. We see it in
families where a sibling is born and the big sister or brother feels diminished
and omitted. He sees the little one
receiving hugs, kisses, and special care from Mom and Dad and attention from
others. He sees how the baby is
nurtured and nursed. He too wants to
be near mother and suck from her breast. Not
being able to do this, he may act out in many ways.
He may join in being oversolicitous to the new one and quietly out of
sight pinch him, “accidentally” drop him on the floor, or take it out on
himself. He may demand more
attention by hurting himself in some way, complain about certain imaginary
physical symptoms, or react by sucking his thumb, gratifying himself in some
The person beset with
jealousy feels inadequate, not as good, as intelligent, or as beautiful or
successful as another. We see this
in men and women who feel inferior to the love object that they desire or have.
It can be jealousy over achievements.
We find it in men more often than in women, although the latter are more
and more involved in jealousy over professional achievement.
It is the man who is a high achiever, who has been successful, written
thirty books but looks at another who has written thirty-one and feels he is
therefore lacking in the intellect of the other.
For a woman who feels jealous or inferior, she will feel unloved when her
lover or spouse looks at another female, or someone younger, more voluptuous, or
intellectually brighter. She will
become angry, more clinging, and possessive.
What she believes is true is often a figment of her imagination and her
extreme insecurity. The consequences
of her feelings can be very disturbing and may under certain circumstances have
an outcome in reality. If she is
possessive or acting out too much she may lose her love object.
The same can of course be said about the male who may, because of his
feelings of inferiority, act in a pseudo psychotic, possibly demanding way.
He may become so flirtatious with other females that he loses his spouse
or significant other.
In some third world countries men who are suspicious and beset with jealousy, even when their spouse is covered from head to toe with garments, will kill her to erase their sadistic jealousy.
There is something to be
said about the orthodox religion, where our Jewish brethren are separated with
men on one side and women on the other. Although
there is less observation of flirtatiousness, there
are other ways in which jealousy is expressed.
It is important to be
happy with who we are and value ourselves as persons with our achievements, our
faults, our humanity, our “Menschlichkeit.”
Let us be good to ourselves and our fellow human beings.
We must remember that we did not create ourselves, but we must accept
ourselves as unique and worthwhile without diminishing ourselves and creating
unhappiness for ourselves and our surroundings.