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Wilson, E., Jr. (2000). Revue Française De Psychanalyse: LXI, 1, 1997. Psychoanal Q., 69(4):821-829.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse: LXI, 1, 1997

(2000). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 69(4):821-829

Revue Française De Psychanalyse: LXI, 1, 1997

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

With this issue, which is devoted to a consideration of jealousy in its many forms and manifestations, Revue Française de Psychanalyse inaugurates its fiftieth year of publication, as well as a new editorial team. The new editor in chief, Paul Denis, prefaces this issue with a brief statement commemorating the founding of Revue, and discusses its history and development since 1927. He reaffirms its role in sustaining and reflecting the development of psychoanalytic thought in all its specificity, in the face of new techniques and “mechanical” alternatives which oppose psychoanalysis so regularly. He emphasizes the irreducibility of psychoanalysis to technique or to neuroscience, whatever the advances in those fields might be. Psychoanalysis, though scientific, is first and foremost a humanistic endeavor, and finds its place in the development of the human sciences.

Monique Gibeault and Jacqueline Schaeffer introduce the topic of this issue. Use of the plural of the word jealousy is warranted, they argue, because of the multiplicity of its forms and manifestations and because of its relative neglect in psychoanalysis. Psychiatrists of the nineteenth century, on the other hand, were very much interested in it. Freud, in his discussion of jealousy in “Some Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy, Paranoia, and Homosexuality” (1922), described three forms of jealousy: normal, projected (involving narcissism), and delusional. Klein took up the concept and emphasized jealousy's two archaic poles, envy and greed. However, since Freud and Klein, few authors—at least in France, apart from Daniel Lagache—have dealt with the problem of jealousy, other than in discussions of jealousy as a pathological delusion. In contrast, jealousy in all its forms and in all times has been a frequent focus of myth, literature, opera, theater, and cinema.

The first article, “Freud Jealous” (pp. 11-28), is a biographical discussion of various aspects of jealousy in Freud's life, authored by Christian Jouvenot, who sees jealousy as a powerful theme active throughout Freud's life.

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Pierre Chavel, in “The Infernal Machine: Love and Death Intertwined” (pp. 29-37), focuses on Freud's study of Leonardo da Vinci to illustrate some aspects of jealousy and envy. Freud found Leonardo of interest because of the conjunction of many themes; maternal and filial love, along with hate, envy, and narcissism, were all required to understand his psychic situation. Freud worked his findings into a classical study of narcissism and homosexuality, in which he posed questions of jealousy, hate, and envy. In keeping with the previous article by Jouvenot, Chavel, too, believes that Freud was autobiographical in his elaboration of Leonardo's conflicts, since all writing is a potentially autoanalytic process, if not an autobiographical one. All these themes—avoidance of the recognition of jealousy, envy of femininity, envy of the vagina, homosexuality, and the narcissism that it supposes—were elaborated by Freud, about himself, through the Leonardo screen.

Leonardo was without an available father, at least during the formative early years of his life, at a time when Leonardo was, for two years or so, the unique object of his mother's affections. Freud's well-known lapsus of mistranslation, transforming the mother into a vulture, is interesting in that it neglects the vulture—child, whose rage toward the hated parental coupling is shown in Leonardo's famous drawing of a couple fragrante delicto, amounting to a cruel attempt at dissection or vivisection, suggesting the desire of violent penetration, with the destruction of the mother and of Leonardo's rival in the course of their grotesque coitus.

Reaction formation had then taken place in Leonardo, who, with his ataractic personal manner and love of peaceful beauty displayed in the face or attitude of either sex, could also envision cruel machines of death, as well as this dissected coitus. Such drawings and inventions confirm the violence of repressed feelings of jealousy. For Leonardo, the return of the repressed came in the form of a superego that was limitless in its cruelty.

In his study, Freud focused on the defensive aspect of jealousy, which in classical theory was viewed as a defense against homosexuality. However, as Lagache remarked in his study, the jealousy of homosexuals is proverbial, and we are well aware that homosexuality does not protect an individual either from jealousy or from paranoid delusions, nor from the regression and splitting involved in severe narcissistic conflicts.

Leonardo's main struggle seems to have been more against depression and the turning upon the self of violence toward the parental couple. Yet the essence of his conflict was not based on rage toward the couple or the coupling, but rather his rage toward the mother herself, who was the central figure in this torment—she who loved too much, was too seductive, who sexualized too much.

The author hypothesizes a primary jealousy arising from the primal scene, as guilt-laden as it is inexpressible, and unjustifiable in a grown child. His suggestion remains tentative, however, because of the many questions we can raise about primary jealousy. What is it: fantasy, affect, passion, or the origin of passion?

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Freud suggested that Leonardo had obsessional traits. With respect to the violence of the cruel machines he fantasized about, the idea of an “obsessional machine” begins to make sense. But “obsessional” is not really appropriate, Chavel argues; the notion of constraint is better, something like an impulse to control. The machine is a perfect emblem of this control, similar to Kafka's machine in The Penal Colony. This “machine” is a step away from the influencing machine. Freud, however, hesitated to move to this dyadic register; for him, it was necessary to affirm that the relationship is fundamentally a triadic structure, even in Leonardo's case, which at times seems to involve primarily a dyadic relationship. Leonardo ultimately did not cross the border, and his conflicts remained on a neurotic register. However, the presence of this intense, primary jealousy leads to the edges of paranoia and homosexuality, and involves a narcissistic conflict.

Leonardo's machines remind the author of lago's machinations in Othello, and he relates these to legions of clinical examples from the treatment of borderline patients, with their trying machinations. These patients and their machinations all express a deadly rage, in the sense of an elaborate attempt to turn out toward the exterior the despair and devitalization of psychic life. All this machinery, this reduction of psychic conflict to something inanimate, is a manifestation of the attempt to control.

Betty Denzler, in “The Deceptive Mirror: Jealousy and Narcissism” (pp. 39-44), considers some cases of jealousy that are normal in the sense of constituting responses to real situations. These cases do not involve either projection or delusion, but are extreme in their intensity and quality, surpassing anything that might otherwise be considered normal. Her thesis is that a narcissistic wound is the determining factor in such jealous responses, that there is a partially deficient cathexis of self-representation. The individual's self-representation has been maintained through a narcissistic object choice, permitting the repression of unresolved phallic/genital conflicts.

The characteristics of this jealousy in women are shame and sensations of physical and psychic collapse, whereas men with a similar narcissistic constellation may fear becoming impotent. As one of the author's patients put it, “My legs trembled, I could not stand, I collapsed.” A more healthy response, indicative of a more stable narcissism, might run toward something like a dismissal of the betraying object as unworthy, with a “Well, if he/she doesn't want me, too bad for him/her.” This type of jealousy is seen as an intermediary one, falling between the normal and pathological jealousies that Freud linked to homosexuality. It involves a less profound regression than in pathological jealousy, but nonetheless may include at times the formation of transient hysterical symptoms. Freud's case of Elizabeth von R., who experienced paresis of her legs, may have been an example of this type of jealousy, even if the symtoms were more chronic and not so instantaneous, for it involved the expression of forbidden oedipal desires accompanied by feelings of jealousy toward her sister. Elizabeth von R.'s narcissistic fragility,

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linked to phallic/genital conflicts, played a predominant role, in Denzler's view.

The author makes the important technical point that this narcissistic register must be taken into account in interpretative work, since without it, one runs the risk of phenomena of repetition, which may be as discouraging to the patient as to the analyst. At the moment that a supportive object of phallic narcissism is found to be lacking, or that there is a threatened loss, a sudden recognition of the absence of the penis may occur, experienced as a narcissistic wound repressed up until that point—a failure of repression leading to regression, echoing deeper anxieties concerning castration and feelings of annihilation.

Two papers deal with jealousy toward a sibling. Gérard Bonnet, in “The Trained Eye: The Violence of Seeing in Jealousy (pp. 45-55), utilizes concepts and themes developed in his earlier work on scopophilia, voyeurism, and exhibitionism (The Violence of Seeing, 1996), and applies these to jealousy. The French term for a Venetian or slatted blind is jalousie, the same as the word for jealousy, and Bonnet remarks that the dictionary definition of jalousie, a “grill or lattice through which one can see without being seen,” is apt. He compares jealousy to the eye of a cyclone, for jealousy sometimes functions as a veritable cyclone, devastating everything in its path. For Bonnet, cyclones and jealousy are similar in organization, structuralization, and evolution. In the same way that a cyclone is organized around an eye that is calm—a point zero from which the storm may be observed—so may we speak of jealousy as organizing itself around an essential nodal point, evolving in a similar cataclysmic fashion.

Bonnet discusses the case of Didier, who, at the age of seventeen, suddenly seized a knife and went next door to murder his neighbor, an old lady, stabbing her many times in the abdomen. Bonnet analyzed Didier in the psychiatric institution in which the boy had been placed after the crime. During the long course of this analysis, Didier never mentioned having a younger brother, but, just on the point of being released to return home, Didier was discovered to have a revolver in his possession, purchased as a gift for this hitherto unmentioned brother. Needless to say, the pistol provoked considerable agitation and consternation among the staff of the institution, who had been about to discharge him.

Further analytic work led to a flood of discourse about this brother, whom Didier had made virtually nonexistent during his analytic work, but for whom he now proclaimed intense love and concern. Gradually, Didier was able to recover his intense jealousy toward his brother, and thus able to understand the meaning of his own murderous act against the neighbor, whom he identified with maternal figures in his past—a neighbor who had frequently spied on him and reported his behavior to his parents. After killing the neighbor, Didier had wanted to make her disappear, to no longer be seen, but had taken only clumsy and contradictory steps to effect this.

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Bonnet relates this second goal, to make the object disappear and reappear, to visual desires. (This aspect of the “perfect murder,” Bonnet remarks, is frequently involved in many detective stories, novels, and movies, especially in those of Hitchcock, the master of this theme.)

For Bonnet, the sadistic aspects of Didier's behavior were secondary to the primary visual and voyeuristic desires that formed the main motivation for his crime, aimed at the annihilation of the hated object. The author links these to a primitive belief in the evil eye, a belief that simultaneously symbolizes both violence and the envy that others might feel.

Chantal Lechartier—Atlan, in “Such a Banal Trauma: Reflections on Fraternal Jealousy (pp. 58-66), examines the apparent absence of normal jealousy in certain individuals, and proposes the hypothesis that this absence is the result of a deep repression of an earlier, precocious, fraternal jealousy. This fraternal jealousy is triadic, of course, but the triangle is special, different from intergenerational oedipal jealousy and different from the sexual conflicts of oedipal jealousy. Two of the protagonists of the triad are similar, and one is also a child, just like the child who has become jealous. Sexual issues are not important, for all three protagonists may be of the same sex.

The arrival of a new infant in the family is an important trauma for a young child, who must then deal with an intolerable amount of feeling as the mother attends to the younger child and leaves the elder in a state of premature solitude, deprived of the stimulus barrier that the mother had represented. The elder child is confronted with intense feelings, without the psychic links and support that are of vital importance for the ultimate well-being of his or her psychic life. Responses to the birth of a sibling make use of all the emergency measures available to an immature ego, especially a deep repression. Because this is a “banal” trauma, it is one that runs the risk of being passed over, unnoticed. However, a precocious sensitization to this psychic pain may lead to important distortions in the libidinal economy, and, in particular, may involve a splitting of the ego or of the object; character formations may lead to difficulties in dealing with oedipal rivalry, and to the systematic avoidance of situations of competition or confrontation.

The author examines three cases in order to trace the relationship to the rival whom one resembles, the destiny of aggressive feelings, and the difficulties inherent in the interwining of love and hate that develops, as well as the relationship with the mother, marked by a special difficulty in mourning the loss of the primary object.

The next three papers further develop the theme of the absence of jealousy. Anne Deburge—Donnars, in “Jealous at Last” (pp. 67-82), comments on contrasting views of jealousy. In religious thought, jealousy (as well as other feelings, such as humor, anger, hate, love—whether of men or gods), far from causing fear, are viewed as sources of energy, emotion, and imagination, permitting one to confront life's troubles. Such emotions are also

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seen as the cornerstone of future projects—for example, the building of a temple, the founding of a city, or the creation of a work of art. This stands in absolute contrast to the views of classical authors, from Aristotle to Descartes, who show us jealousy as something monstrous, ferocious, cruel, and a factor in causing disorder.

The author takes issue with the current tendency to continue to regard jealousy as menacing, as something to be devalued and disavowed, as ethically and esthetically inappropriate (though perhaps this viewpoint is now more subtly expressed). Although a notion that many, especially feminists, are trying to make obsolete, jealousy is still quite frequently cited as the reason that patients consult analysts. In agreement with the other contributors to this issue, Deburge-Donnars, too, argues that we should speak of several types of jealousy, but her focus is on jealousy as a structuralizing experience, an evolutionary stage in the maturation of the self and in the discovery of the other.

Danielle Labrouse—Hilaire, in Jealousy in its Absence: A Particular Object Choice in Women” (pp. 83-99), also deals with the absence of jealousy where one would expect it to be present. She has analyzed a number of women in whom, despite a wide-ranging emotional and fantasy life, feelings of jealousy are conspicuously absent, and who make repetitive object choices in choosing men characterized by Don Juanesque behavior. All these patients present extremely fragile narcissistic organizations, characteristic of borderline pathology, with more or less perverse tendencies and deeply depressive reactions. Although Freud linked jealousy to secondary homosexuality, in these patients, in whom jealousy is absent, it seems to derive from primary homosexuality. Freud spoke of a powerful repression of feelings of jealousy, but in these cases, there seem to be other defense mechanisms involved beyond or alongside repression. Behind the absence of jealousy is an attempt to plug a gaping narcissistic wound, a defect of self-representation submerged behind an apparent richness of emotional life. Such patients are always in search of an object upon whom to depend, but the choice of any object who would remain faithful to them leaves them cold and indifferent.

Rather than repression, Labrouse-Hilaire sees this more as a suppression (a notion many reject because of its voluntary and conscious implications), a suppression of trauma that occurred at an extremely early age, reinforced by parents who were very repressive of any instinctual expression on the part of the child, and who did not take on a role of providing a stimulus barrier for the child, whether they were too rejecting or too arousing in their treatment of him or her. Under these conditions, the ego cannot be structured in a well-differentiated fashion, and narcissistic and sexual identities are not firmly established. From this parent—child relationship, an intellectual and cognitive hypermaturity develops, as well as an affective maturity that is well masked by intellectuality and pseudosublimations.

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Mourning for the loss of the primary object (primary mourning) has been impossible to carry out, and separation and differentiation are not effectively established. Such primary mourning is the foundation of otherness, of difference, and of identity, and since this mourning was incomplete, the consequences are evident throughout the lives of these patients, who present serious depressive symptoms. There is often a renunciation of an aspect of femininity in these women—most frequently maternity, “from a sense of duty or career,” and/or a conjugal blindness from idealization of the object, a form of naivete that makes such a woman into a sort of female Charles Bovary, oblivious to the infidelities of the object.

The author explores her hypotheses by discussing two patients in analysis, Carla and Juliette, chosen from among the several cases in whom she was discerned this structure. In each, Labrouse-Hilaire explores the relationship of the patient to her femininity and to homosexuality, conscious and unconscious, as well as the patient's search for a “re—narcissisizing” double to complete her sense of herself.

Two articles deal with the differences between envy and jealousy. In “Envy, a Social Feeling” (pp. 111-122), Vincent de Gaulejac, professor of sociology at Paris VII, looks at the social consequences and effects of envy, and attempts to distinguish between the two by examining the phenomenological differences between envy and jealousy. He focuses on envy, which is often, if not universally, stigmatized, condemned, and made unmentionable, an object of shame. However, for this author, envy is a feeling necessary to the existence and development of society and social relations, and its channeling into acceptable modes serves as a motivating element in social relations.

Florence Guignard, in “Envy, Ground of Devastation” (pp. 123-138), examines Klein's contributions to theorizing about je alousy and envy.

In a section of the journal entitled “Famous Jealousies,” Proust and Shakespeare come up for examination. Cléopatra Athanassiou-Popesco, in “Intolerance to Jealousy in Shakespeare's Othello” (pp. 140-151), examines the play for its contributions to psychoanalysis about the causes of jealousy. Shakespeare has helped us to reflect on the pathological mutation that is involved in jealousy, as well as its causes and the paths it takes. Metapsychology, rather than encompassing and enclosing a work of art, is put to the proof by it. Shakespeare invited us to think of the Iago that resides in each of us, and who trips us up as Iago did Othello. Athanassiou-Popesco examines the ways in which jealousy has been described in psychoanalysis, but feels we may discover more from Othello about the transformation from normal jealousy into pathological jealousy. Somewhat inconclusively, however, she leaves us wondering what it is that, from a metapsychological perspective,

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makes normal jealousy susceptible and permeable to the influence of pathological jealousy.

Eloisa Castellano-Maury, in Jealousy in the Work of Marcel Proust” (pp. 153-161), deals with the multilayered importance of the theme of jealousy in Proust, culminating in The Captive and The Fugitive. In Proust, the jealous person is always male, and rarely are the women in In Search of Lost Time depicted as jealous; the women are either wounded and hurt or disillusioned. The violence and torments of love are all experienced by the narrator, Swann, or by the Baron Charlus, as though Proust viewed jealousy as a masculine mode of existence. Yet the facts of Proust's biography suggest another viewpoint. Behind the characters of Swann and Charlus, the author sees the ever-present figure of Madame Proust, the author's mother, as the primordial figure of the jealous person, with her suspiciousness, exasperating questioning, and her continuous surveillance of her son.

Jealousy was a maternal way of existing of Proust. His father was a prominent physician who was said to have had adventures with singers and actresses. The levels and the play of identifications are multiple; the narrator and Proust himself are not the same person, as the author is subtle in disguising his sexual identities and his secret fantasies. In Proust's work, we find the jealous, suspicious, and intrusive mother; the beloved but wily child who is expert in the art of deception; the rake of a father; and the fickle cocottes whom the father pursued. Additionally, we find infantile jealousy, in the sense of a polymorphous perverse child, the child who stomps and thrashes about in oral, devastating rage; it is “his majesty the baby.”

Behind the various masks of jealousy, there is only one Proust, the adult writer who consciously turns to the past and remembers, dissecting like an entomologist the jealousy of others, no longer feeling his own jealousy, and who is without tenderness or compassion (feelings that are strikingly absent in Search). Proustian evocations of jealousy touch us as a voyage into another dimension, evoking the old torments and turmoil of the nursery that we thought we had forgotten and which we no longer understand. In the violent aggression of Proustian jealousy, we also see the struggle against depression. Nonetheless, Castellano-Maury provides a caveat: it is always hazardous to attempt to psychoanalyze genius, and it is equally hazardous and somewhat foolhardy to attempt to enclose the psychic complexity of a genius within clinical definitions.

A theoretical and historical review of writings on jealousy is offered by Louise de Urtubey in Jealousy, the Entry-Point of Passion in Treatment” (pp. 165-174). She discusses the development of Freud's views, then moves on to Klein and Lagache (La Jalousie Amoureuse, 1947). The extensive Anglo-American literature is listed in Coen in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (1987). In her own article on jealousy (1984), de Urtubey emphasizes jealousy as the entry point for unconscious homosexuality in the treatment

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of heterosexual patients (at least when men are in treatment with women). One pole of jealousy is oedipal, both positive and negative, and develops in the analysand concerning the conferers of the couch, the brothers and sisters who share the couch with him or her. Similarly, another source of jealousy is vacations. The other pole is largely narcissistic, and runs the risk of escalating into a psychotic resolution. The author reviews three cases to illustrate these themes.

The issue concludes its discussion of jealousy with the presentation of two clinical perspectives. In “Edenic Nudity and Pathological Jealousy (pp. 175-181), Gabrielle Rubin discusses the behavioral disturbances and psychological repercussions on children whose parents are devotees of nudity in the home. Such parental practices suggest a lack of limits for the parents, a denial of sexuality, an effacement of sexuality, a denial of the sexual organs as specific organs, and of sexuality as a particular fact. The boundary between public and private is thus eroded, with devastating effects on the sexuality, or lack of it, of the patient she presents—who viewed her own sexuality as pure, while she projected onto her partner a boundless sexuality that provoked her to jealousy.

Alexandre Garabedian, in Jealousy and the End of Analysis (pp 183-192), discusses an intense and regressive jealousy provoked in a patient by the analyst's countertransference-dictated remark made during a pre-vacation session.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (2000). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. Psychoanal. Q., 69(4):821-829

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