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Gerhardt, J. (2009). Reply to Commentaries. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(3):318-335.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(3):318-335

Reply to Commentaries

Julie Gerhardt, Ph.D.

The current paper attempts to work out a distinction between two forms of envy: Libidinal Envy versus Destructive Envy—terms on loan from Rosenfeld's (1987) Libidinal versus Destructive Narcissism—and suggests that because libidinal envy phantasies inhabit a fine line between desire/need and frustration, when the self's desire for the mother and the need to identify is not unconsciously reciprocated (see Benjamin's, 1988, 1995, theory of identification), over time libidinal envious cravings transform into phantasies of spoiling, destructive envy. The paper also develops a response to my discussants (Ronald Britton, Robert Oelsner, Paul Ornstein), each of whom suggests various counterpoints to my original paper on envy. One idea which I suggest is that Klein may be correct in assuming that envy has an instinctual basis but incorrect in deriving envy from instinctual aggression. Rather, envy may have an evolutionarily adaptive value to cope with certain threats to survival when living within a social group: the threat of being too different from the other and the threat of occupying too low of a position on the social hierarchy. Also, the intersubjective basis of envy as failed unconscious identification due to the absence of a felt sense of reciprocal identification on the part of the mother/analyst is noted throughout the paper.

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