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Laverde-Rubio, E. (2004). Envy: One or many?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):401-418.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):401-418

Envy: One or many?

Eduardo Laverde-Rubio

This paper reports conceptual and clinical research about envy. It consists of an examination and comparison of Klein's points of view of 1952, where the feeling of exclusion from the envious object is stressed, and of 1957, based on the split death instinct that is projected on to the envied object. These two approaches are contrasted with the point of view of the author, where envy is understood as the result of a particular kind of object relation, in which the subject registers an asymmetry with its peer, that he considers unfair, due to the biased action of an idealized omnipotent object, on whom the subject depends and that gives to the envied one, and deceives the envious one, leading to experiencing a compound of emotions: hatred, love, sense of unfairness, wish of revenge, helplessness and incapacity of the subject to provide for himself. The mental state just described emerges from clinical observations, and is illustrated with the passage from the Bible where Abel, the envied one, is killed by Cain, the envious one, showing their relationship with Jehovah, biased in his preferences, a situation designated by the author as ‘Cain's complex’. In this paper some considerations are also made concerning the modalities of envy: penis envy in women, the relationship between envy and narcissism, the difference between envy and jealousy, and the interpretative handling of envy. To answer the question posed in the title, the conclusion is that envy presents a central nucleus with different elaborative branches.

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