Envy is Destructive Narcissism (Jealousy, Romantic Jealousy are NOT)

Uploaded 5/11/2024, approx. 21 minute read

And no, I am not talking about rage, anger or hatred.

I am talking about envy.

Nothing is more virulent.

Nothing is more venomous, more all pervasive, more ubiquitous, more toxic than envy.

Envy drives people to rage.

Envy motivates people to hate.

Envy is behind all negative emotions in effect.

This view has been propounded in the 1950s and I still adhere to it.

I think that envy is the source of all conflict, all crime, all malevolence and malice, everything that is negative in individual life and in our social sphere.

My name is Sam Vaknin.

I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, the Envy as visiting professor, former visiting professor of psychology and currently a professor of psychology and business management in CEOPS.

Envy, first of all some disambiguation.

Envy is not jealousy and jealousy should be distinguished, although often is not, but should be distinguished from romantic jealousy.

Jealousy is when you want to be like someone, when you wish to emulate someone, to become someone.

When I grow up, I want to be this and that person.

Jealousy therefore is an integral driver, an engine of positive identity formation.

It is embedded in the process of social learning.

Modeling partly works through envy.

We adopt role models and then we try to adjust our behaviors, our thinking and our emotional responses in order to become closer to our role models, to resemble them, to be reminiscent of them.

That is jealousy.

Jealousy ironically therefore is a positive force.

As distinct from romantic jealousy, romantic jealousy is a negative emotion in which an individual resents a third party because this third party appears to be taking away or likely to take away the affections of a loved one.

Romantic jealousy therefore is about loss, real or anticipated.

Romantic jealousy requires a triangle of social relationships between three individuals.

The one who is jealous, the partner with whom the jealous individual has intimate relationship or desires a relationship, and the rival who represents a preemptive threat to the relationship or an actual one.

In other words, romantic jealousy is a private case of triangulation.

Romantic relationships are the prototypical source of romantic jealousy.

But romantic jealousy can absolutely be delusional or even retroactive.

It is a false belief that a spouse or a partner is unfaithful, envying past partners of the intimate partner.

The individual is constantly on the watch for indications that this belief is justified.

There is evidence if it is not to be found and completely disregards facts that contravene the conviction.

Delusional romantic jealousy is also known as morbid jealousy or fellow syndrome or delusion or pathological jealousy.

So jealousy is a force for emulation and social learning from role models.

Romantic jealousy, a fear of loss transmuted into aggression against a third party, the source of the loss or the threat of the loss.

And then there is envy.

Envy is an entirely different body.

Envy is not about emulating or imitating or simulating a role model.

Someone you admire, adulate, someone you appreciate or respect.

That's not envy, that's jealousy.

Envy is about destroying someone you perceive to be better than you, more fortunate than you, luckier than you, richer than you, more educated than you, more intelligent than you, more good looking than you, more the desire to reduce people to signs, to cut them down, to take them down, to somehow level the playing field so that you don't feel inferior in any way shape or form.

It's a destructive urge.

Envy is just another name for extreme annihilating aggression.

Your wish is to eradicate the source of frustration, to get rid of this nagging internal effect that is destroying your life, is consuming you.

Envy has obsessional elements and leads to compulsive actions.

Now the difference between affect and emotion is that emotion is the feeling itself and affect is the way we experience the feeling.

So there is envy, which is the feeling of "I want to destroy this guy" or "I want to destroy this girl because they are so evidently and manifestly better than I am in some respect or in all respects."

That's the feeling.

And the affect is how one experiences the feeling, how one experiences the envy, which is very self-defeating and self-destructive and all-consuming and debilitating and depressing.

To experience envy is to self-immolate, is to destroy yourself gradually, incrementally.

To experience envy is to burn slowly in the fires of internal hell, unquenched.

And so today we are going to discuss envy.

Of course envy is founded on other more primordial or primitive emotional units or emotions.

For example, shame.

Envy is founded on a reservoir of shame that is perceived to be life-threatening or dangerous.

In a desperate attempt to avoid shame, the envious person redirects aggression to the outside.

He externalizes aggression.

If you feel shame to the extent that it is life-threatening, you will usually become suicidal.

You want to kill yourself and get rid of this feeling of shame.

So shame is life-threatening in the truest sense of the word.

And one of the ways to somehow subvert this risk of suicide, somehow remain alive, is to redirect the aggression from inside to the outside.

And this redirection is known as envy.

There is humiliation involved.

When you compare yourself to the object of your envy, when you compare yourself to the person you envy, and usually it's a person, when you compare yourself, you feel inferior.

You feel ashamed.

You feel humiliated, degraded, debased, demeaned by comparison.

Envy is comparative.

Relative positioning.

You compare yourself to someone and you are found wanting.

You are found deficient.

And these generate enormous humiliation.

Ironically, envy implies what I call reverse grandiosity.

Envy implies that the person you envy is superior to you.

You believe that person to be superior to you.

You aggrandize and idealize that person.

The subject of the envy, the target of the envy is idealized.

The envious person believes that the target of the envy is everything he should be and he can never be.

So the target of the envy represents the ego ideal, represents a vision of how the envious person would have liked to see himself.

It's as if the envious person is saying, "Look at this guy.

He's everything I always wanted to be and everything I've always failed to become.

And I hate him for being this.

I hate him for being so ideal, for being so perfect, for being so good looking, for being so intelligent and so educated, so attractive and so charismatic and so magnetic and so everything.

So rich, whatever.

I wanted to be like this.

I've done my best and I failed.

So I envy him.

Envy therefore involves idealization.

That's the irony.

It's a kind of reverse love bombing.

It's a shared fantasy of destruction and death.

Whereas the narcissist typical shared fantasy is a fantasy of life.

However, however life is interpreted by the narcissist, the envious person's shared fantasy is a fantasy of death, of destruction, of elimination, of the source of frustration, of the envied object.

And so there is an intricate interplay between the envious person and the person he envies.

There are elements reminiscent of irrotomonic delusion.

The envious person develops a relationship, however imaginary, with the person that he envies.

And this relationship includes a lot of many dialogues and a lot of to and fro and kind of negotiations or consensus and so on and so forth.

The envious person attempts to reach an equilibrium, a homeostasis with the envied person.

This all revolves around bad object management.

At the core of the envious person there is a bad object, a constellation of interjects, of internal voices that keep informing the envious person that he is delinquent, insufficient, inadequate and worthy, unlovable, a loser, would never amount to anything, etc.

These voices are intolerable and one of the ways to silence them is compensatory narcissism.

For example, dumb people, the shockingly overwhelming vast majority of mankind, dumb people compensate by convincing themselves that they are geniuses.

This is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So this is a compensatory response to the bad object.

The bad object says, "You are stupid as a doornail." Not only am I wrong, I'm not dumb, I'm actually a genius.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is compensatory and it goes through stages.

The first stage is, "Why can't I be like the object of my envy?

Why can't I be like him?

Why can't I be as handsome as him, as rich as him, as famous as him, as educated, as intelligent, as successful with the opposite sex, as iridized, as easygoing, as charming, etc.

Why can't I be like the object of my envy, which is essentially the object of my desire, the way I would have liked to be, my ego ideal, my vision of myself, my fantasy of how I should have been?" This is the first stage.

The second stage is, "Actually, I'm more than him.

I, the envious person, am more than the person I envy.

I am more intelligent.

I am more knowledgeable.

I am more easygoing.

I am more charming.

I am more." Because of course, this of course is delusional.

It's a delusional response.

It involves attribution, errors.

I am a good person.

I'm a good person because I choose to be a good person.

He is a bad person because that's who he is.

The negative aspects of the envid person are essential to that person.

They are who that person is.

So there's an emphasizing of the negative dimensions and traits and behaviors of the envid person and attributing this negativity to who that person is while the envious person, the person who envies, presents himself as the epitome and quintessence of morality or victimhood or ethical conduct or self-restraint and self-discipline, positive traits.

I am positive because I choose to be positive.

He is negative because that's who he is.

And of course, all gender pronouns are interchangeable.

Yes, he/she don't start this debate.

Okay, Shoshanim.

We said that the engines of envy are shame, humiliation, idealization of the envid object and bad object management, a desperate attempt to lie to yourself, to silence the inner voices that keep informing you how inferior you are by somehow devaluing the object of envy.

So there's an initial stage of the idealization and then devaluation.

You're beginning to identify the narcissistic elements or the elements of pathological narcissism in envy and attribution errors, which I mentioned.

Take for example, what has happened during the pandemic.

Even the pandemic, millions of people, dumb beyond description, proclaim themselves medical experts.

They decided that the vaccine is bad for you, that this medicine is good for you, this medicine is not good for you and so on and so forth.

And they conflicted with the foremost medical authorities in the world and they were convinced of their own infallibility, genius, ability to gather and amass information, knowledge and critical thinking.

So that's an example of a Dunning-Kruger reaction.

A healthy attitude is I don't trust experts just because they are experts.

I use my critical thinking and I do my own research.

That's a healthy recommended attitude.

A pathological grandiose approach is I don't trust experts because I'm more knowledgeable than any expert would ever be malignant egalitarianism.

To trust information just because an expert says so is a logical fallacy.

But to distrust information just because it hails from an expert is envy.

Envious idiocy and grandiosity.

So envy is intimately connected with narcissism and with extreme stupidity.

Stupid people are envious, narcissists are envious.

Syllogism, narcissists are stupid people.

I've said it before.

Envy results in envious behavioral outcomes.

That's the problem with envy.

It doesn't just stay there.

It's not inert.

It is proactive.

Envy motivates you to act, to make choices.

Envy leads to frustration.

You will never be like the object of your envy.

To start with, you idealize and aggrandize the object of your envy, making it even less plausible and more impossible to match the object of your envy.

If the object of your envy is godlike, perfect, brilliant and so on and so forth, then you would never match up to that person.

The initial phases of envy are self-perpetuating.

I repeat the initial phases of envy are self-perpetuating because by aggrandizing the envied person, by aggrandizing the object of envy, you make it less probable that you will somehow match up to this person.

This leads to enormous frustration.

We know from Dole and others that frustration results in aggression, the frustration-aggression hypothesis.

There is frustration and then there is aggression which is intended to express omnipotence in his superiority.

If I have the capacity to destroy my object of envy, to incarcerate him, to ruin his career and reputation, to vanquish him, to destroy his life, if I have power over the object of my envy, that means I am superior to the object of my envy, that means I am godlike and omnipotent.

The very act of destroying the object of envy amounts to self-regulation.

It's like by destroying the object of envy, the envious person restores internal balance and inner peace.

Destroying the object of envy is proof positive that you are superior.

If you are envious of someone and you have the capacity to ruin their lives, to fire them, to vanquish them, to defame them, if you have this power, then you are superior to them, aren't you?

There's nothing they can do because you are above them, you are the boss, you are in charge.

It establishes a kind of hierarchy of grandiosity.

There's a need to control the object of envy because it is life-threatening.

Remember that envy is again intimately connected, intimately linked to shame and this is life-threatening shame.

The object of envy, the person you envy, essentially constitutes a threat at the very minimum to your mental health but possibly to your life depending on what level of mental illness you are at.

So the need to control the object of envy is anxiolytic, it reduces anxiety.

Envy increases anxiety, the only way to mitigate and ameliorate this nagging or pervasive debilitating anxiety is by controlling the object of envy.

Now you can control the object of envy by destroying it, you can control the object of envy by stalking it, you can control the object of envy by defaming it, you can control the object of envy in a variety of ways, all of which are destructive to the object of envy.

Ultimately the only way to get rid of the envy is to destroy the object of envy.

You need to devalue this superior object in order to quell and somehow calm down your inferiority complex.

If the object of envy is gone out of your life, out of your mind, out of your thoughts, then you are at peace and harmony again and you need therefore to destroy it.

There is no other option.

You can't negotiate with it, you can't reach a consensus with it, you can't coexist with it, you can't co-opt it, you can't even assimilate it.

There is nothing you can do with an object of envy except get rid of it.

This is the key difference between envy and other forms of negative affectivity such as anger and so on and so forth.

The main thrust, the main impetus is to change behaviors, to change someone's behavior when you are angry, you are expressing displeasure with a specific behavior, hopefully inducing a change in behavior or to hurt and to punish the object of the anger.

And that's it.

The anger dissipates and you move on.

Envy never dissipates.

Envy is always there as long as the object of envy is alive and thriving.

You need to witness the object of envy languishing.

You need to convince yourself that the object of envy has now reached a point in life that he is no longer worthy of being envied.

In other words, if you destroy the object of envy, what is there to envy?

If the object of envy is in prison, what is there to envy?

If the object of envy is sick, what is there to envy?

If the object of envy is dead, what is there to envy?

If the object of envy, his reputation is destroyed, what is there to envy?

You need to reduce the object of envy to de-pedestralize the object of envy.

You need to humanize the object of envy.

You need to denude and deny the object of envy.

The idealized grandiosity that you have attributed to him or to her.

You need to devalue the object of envy because you idealize the object of envy to start with.

It's all in your mind.

It's all in your head.

It's all you're doing.

Envy is a totally solipsistic, delusional, self-contained effect or an end emotion.

It's all to do with the internal environment.

The object of envy is actually an internal object rather than an external one.

Envy is a negative emotion of discontent and resentment generated by desire for the possessions of the attributes, of the qualities, of the achievements of another person, the target of the envy.

Unlike jealousy, envy involves only two individuals, the envious person and the person envied.

It is destructive.

The only resolution for envy is the destruction of the envied object or the target of envy.

Envy is at the core of aggression and the root of many or if not most negative effects and negative emotions.

We would do well to tackle envy as the root cause of mental illness or many manifestations of mental illness because in today's world with social media, with likes, with relative positioning, with a lot of exposure, with competition for attention, envy is the name of the game.

Envy is at the core and the basis of narcissism and it is infecting individuals and societies alike.

It is at the core of re-emerging conflicts all over the world.

We need to tackle envy urgently before it buries us because that's where it's heading.

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