Envy This!

A deeper look at one of the mind's most misunderstood states.

Envy and Autumn: Transitions, Infancy, & Older Age

Fruits Gathered, Leaves Falling; Self-relations Ripe for Self-Reflection

Autumn is the cyclical time of year when change becomes particularly apparent. Changes include the fruition of plants--fruits, vegetables, and flowers as well as their fall whether by nature or by people. These products of the plant world typically have strikingly attractive colors--yellows, oranges, and reds--and stimulate a number of emotions. Not only current feelings, but memories of the past are evoked.

The experience of envy, as has been alluded to in previous posts, is multifactorial both cognitively and emotionally. Cognitively, it is marked by a stark awareness of contrast; emotionally, by pronounced feelings of attraction that may include admiration, acquisition, disgust, and "spoiling." "Spoiling" here denotes devaluing (denying, dismisssing, suppressing, or darkening) what one cannot possess. It results in a subliminal state of loss.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Envy as an attitude in the autumn might also involve wishing to regain the spring or summer---things past. Analogously, many have equated autumn with the ripening (and decline) associated with older age.

The connection between 'starts' and 'endings' has developmental roots. As I discuss in my forthcoming 2013 text, Biomental Child Development: Perspectives on Psychology and Parenting, (available now), what transpires in infancy and childhood maintains its genetic continuity, of course with real changes, into adulthood. How emotions are felt and managed early in life directly affects--without doubt--how they are experienced in adult life--how they affect adult trajectories with regard to relationships, work, and successful outcomes. This new book goes into minute detail to reveal the earliest roots of observable visual, hand, and arm development that heralds how attachment and letting go emerge, develop, and proceed. The "bio-mental" dimensions, like two sides of one coin, are discussed in detail. Some fascinating correlations are made; and the psychological implications offer useful insights. 

The healthy maturation of envy is possible. This is always important to remember since it may permit one to undergo a series of psychological changes: feel emotions of loss and current nonpossession, come to terms with acceptance rather than resentment/resignment, and then to move on.

Autumn can be or become a time of reflection, reassessment, improvement, and forward progress.

Often, late autumn afternoons possess a pleasant and equilibrating tone where mild sunlight, even temperature, and a quiet stillness all become conducive to reflection on life--one's own life and what it means--both individually and interpersonally. A poignant awareness of and empathy for change and reflection on its salience can provide an impetus toward enhanced self-development.

 

Frank John Ninivaggi, M.D., F.A.P.A., is an Associate Attending physician at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. more...

Subscribe to Envy This!

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?