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West, M. (2008). Navaro, Leyla & Schwartzberg, Sharan. Envy, Competition and Gender — Theory, Clinical Applications and Group Work. Hove & New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. xvi + 255. Hbk. £60. Pbk. £22.99/$39.95.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(1):138-140.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(1):138-140

Navaro, Leyla & Schwartzberg, Sharan. Envy, Competition and Gender — Theory, Clinical Applications and Group Work. Hove & New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. xvi + 255. Hbk. £60. Pbk. £22.99/$39.95.

Review by:
Marcus West

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

Two main themes emerge in this excellent book on envy—that of the different course and challenges of envy (and competitiveness) for the different genders, and that of the potentially positive and constructive aspects, outcomes, and ways of working with envy—the ‘de-demonization’ of envy, as it is called here. The editors, Leyla Navaro and Sharan Schwartzberg, have brought together a laudably coherent set of separately authored papers / chapters from contributors mainly from the United States, but also from Turkey, Israel and the Netherlands.

The book starts off with a very helpful introduction and overview of envy, taking the reader from Freud's essentially gendered view of penis envy to Horney's powerful critique of Freud, emphasizing instead the influence of society and culture, through to Klein's view of envy as a constitutionally based destructive impulse, and on to later contributions by Torok, Chasseguet-Smirgel, Benjamin, Chodorow, and Maguire, as well as broader perspectives such as Joffe's classic review of the subject and Nitsun's concept of the anti-group.

The book then develops three different areas—developmental, practice and group perspectives. The first section is the highlight of the book for me. Avi Berman's excellent chapter begins by looking at research on envy—showing that it starts with the child of one year's simple wish to take what he/she wants, before evolving into the (Kleinian) picture of ‘I should have and he shouldn't’, and then beyond to a situation of equalization—‘I also want’ (two to three years).

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