Joan Poelvoorde

Psychotherapy & Healing Arts

Writings on Envy

ORIGIN Middle English (also in the sense [hostility, enmity] ): from Old French envie (noun), envierinvidia, from invidere 'regard maliciously, grudge,' from in- 'into' + videre 'to see.'

Hence, to see into another's accomplishments, possessions, or character with a malicious desire or intent. To want what is neither offered nor earned. In Dante's Purgatorio, the second terrace is the Terrace of Envy. Since they derived pleasure from seeing other's suffering, the envious are now deprived of sight in an atrocious manner: their eyes are sewn shut with iron wire.

It is certain that envy is the worst sin that is; for all other sins are sins against only one virtue, whereas envy is against all virtues and against all goodness.

Geoffrey Chaucer
Canterbury Tales, "The Parsons Tale"

A distinction should be drawn between envy, jealousy, and greed. Envy is the angry feeling that another person possesses and enjoys something desirable—the envious impulse being to take it away or to spoil it … Jealousy is based on envy, but involves a relation to at least two people; it s mainly concerned with love that the subject feels is his due and has been taken away, or is in danger of being taken away from him by his rival. In the everyday conception of jealousy, a man or woman feels deprived of the loved person by somebody else.

Greed is an impetuous and insatiable craving, exceeding what the subject needs and what the object is able and willing to give. At the unconscious level, greed aims primarily at completely scooping out, sucking dry, and devouring … One essential difference between greed and envy, although no rigid dividing line can be drawn since they are so closely associated, would accordingly be that greed is mainly bound up with introjection and envy with projection.

Melanie Klein
Envy and Gratitude & Other Works 1946-1963
Delacorte Press, 1997, p. 181

Malice that cannot speak its name, cold-blooded but secret hostility, impotent desire, hidden rancor and spite—all cluster at the center of envy. Envy clouds thought, clobbers generosity, precludes any hope of serenity, and ends in shriveling the heart. Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.

Joseph Epstein
Envy: The Seven Deadly Sins

Envy thrusts itself at every turn—billboards shout, television tempts—you know it well. How does one find that optimum balance between shadow and light? Between desire and satisfaction? Between self-love and self-hate?

a strong compassion and gratitude practice

some good years of good psychotherapy

shamanic soul retrieval and illumination

prayer

praise

gratitude

compassion

prayer

praise

gratitude

compassion

etc., etc., etc.

Joan Poelvoorde, a professional psychotherapist in Manhattan (NY) offering relationship, personal growth, anger management, creativity, shamanistic & Imago Relationship Therapy