-Dr. Prashant Gokhale
What is jealousy?
Jealousy - "the green
eyed monster" - is not one basic emotion, but a compound of
many-grief, love, anger, greed, hatred and envy. Many of these
emotional reactions are kept out of our full consciousness
because they violate our conventional attitudes. For instance,
we do not readily allow ourselves to realize that we sometimes
hate those we love-husband or wife, mother or father or even
What makes people jealous ?
People feel jealous when they lose, or fear they are going
to lose, someone they love to another person. Jealousy always
involves a triangle. The fear of losing a loved person's love
may be based on real factors or it may be based on imagination
or exaggeration. This distinction is very important: It accounts
for the difference between normal as against pathological
jealousy. Thus, a man tormented by jealousy because of the
behavior of his wife with another man is in quite another
position from a man who has persuaded himself that his wife
is having an affair - when there is no real ground for this
fantasy. The first man may need comfort and advice; the second
man can only be helped by psychiatric treatment.
Some people create situations, unconsciously, which will make
them jealous. Thus, a jealous wife or husband may insist on
taking the spouse to a party where firtations contacts are
What is the difference between jealousy and envy?
In jealousy, we feel rejected, rebuffed, shamed: in envy,
we do not. Jealousy usually contains a sexual component; envy
does not. In jealousy, we feel threatened: in envy, we do
not. In envy, we simply want something which belogs to someone
else. In envy, the person who has what you want is unimportant-
except for his or her role as a frustrating agent. But in
jealousy, your reaction to the two other people involved is
much more complicated: You want more than possession-you want
reactions, emotions, love. When you are jealous, your rival
is very important-not only hated, but feared and even admired.
Are men or women more jealous?
Clinical experience suggests that women are more likely to
be jealous than men. Clinical evidence indicates that, in
the early years, little girls feel that boys have certain
anatomical advantages over them. Little girls at pay frequently
imitate little boys but rarely do boys imitate little girls.
When and how does jealousy begin?
Very early, each baby has to go through the experience of
losing many things it loves. When the baby is weaned from
the breast, for instance, it feels that amalgam of frustration,
longing, rage and sorrow which forms perhaps the earliest
model of the emotions that later produce jealousy. Babies
are not born with and instinct to share or the capacity to
wait. He wants total, unshared, "selfish" satisfactions. As
soon as a child is old enough to recongize that the mother
must deprive him in order to care for other members of the
family, we see signs of jealousy.
Is it inevitable for brothers and sisters to be jealous of
Yes. Each child is in a position where competition for the
love of the mother and father is inevitable. Each brother
or sister is therefore a rival for parental love or care,
devotion or time; and a rival creates resentment, competitiveness
How can parents prevent jealousy in their children?
Parents should not try to prevent jealousy. Psychological
health depends upon how jealousy is handled, not upon its
absence. Even in the happiest families, it is inevitable that
one or another child will be given more affection and attention
at one time or another. However painful, jealousy is an important
emotion and it should be respected as such. If children will
learn how to bear the pain of jealousy, they will eventually
learn how to avoid or conquer its harmful aspectrs.
In a good marriage, does a husband
or a wife ever get jealous?
Of course, Even in the best of marriages, mild, temporary
jealousy is bond to arise. A marriage unites two people who
were subjucted to the inevitable frustrations and conflicts
and fears of childhood. Whenever they are humiliated or defeated,
the old sources of their fears particularly te fear of being
unloved, the dread of being unlovable-come to the fore. At
such times, the husband or wife may seek to "exorcise" feelings
of inadequacy by blaming the partner. A spouse is very likely
to be blamed when the husband or sife suffers a blow to self
esteem- because at such a time the feeling of being unloved
is actute. And with the feeling of being unloved comes that
"green-eyed suspicion" which underlies jealousy. A
certain amount of flirratiousness is encouraged in our society,
and this can, or occasion, stir up intense jealousy. Some
husbands or wives use jealousy in order to test the love reactions
of their partners; others may use it for teasing and even
hurting the partner: still others find that jealousy situations,
when resolved, make a particularly sweet reunion. Even
in a good marriage, a husband will feel jealous when the first
baby enters the family. For the husband is presented with
a little "rival" who will undoubtedly take much time and attention
away from him.. The first baby inaugurates a trying period
in any marriage-especially for those fathers who suffered
severe jealousy reactions in their own childhood. In
every case, it is the individual's past history, his or her
sense of proportion, his or her feelings of security, which
determines the intensity and the duration of natural jealousy
reactions. In a good marriage-which is to say a marriage in
which there is love, understanding and communication between
husband and wife-jealousy reactions are managed without lasting