Envy This!

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

Condescension as Manifest Envy

Envy is the "Grand Paradox" of Mind

This article discusses an important aspect of envy as an unconscious information processing mechanism. Since the proposition of "unconscious" denotes outside of awareness, especially deeply hidden from easy conscious examination, several conjectures--some highly abstract--are introduced and may be regarded as perplexing. An intelligent consideration of these theoretical ideas requires open-minded consideration. A word of warning is needed here: often, conjectures with regard to unconscious proicesses are met with suspicion, if not disbelief. In fact, negative material like that related to "unconscious envy" is particularly "hard to digest" and provokes a reflexive rejection--devaluation and "condescension." With these provisos, the following is offered.

In Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide to Traditional Indian Medicine for the West, I spoke about the ancient conception of the Five Elements that make up the Universe.

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These "elements" are really principles or inferred operating mechanisms underlying all created things, even the mind.

In my discussion of Akasha or Ether, the first of these five Elements, I relate it to modern scientific conceptions such as the Higgs Field and bosons, sometimes referred to as the "God particle" since it is so elemental.

In my forthcoming book, Biomental Child Development: Perspectives on Psychology and Parenting (Fall 2012), I again address the Higgs field concept and correlate it to "mental space." Mental space correlates with the opening up of mind and mental processes--a mentalization of real life experience in toto. It is an ecologically valid idea emphasizing the meaningfulness of salient human experience.

This conception argues that mental space "in the begiining" of its expansion is a directionless vacuum within which mental particles--sensations, feelings, thoughts, imaginations, and fantasies--are given the opportunity to arise, come into being, and interact.

Envy, as described in the "Envy Theory" book, posits that fission is possible in this "birthing chamber" that becomes mind. A rough approximation to scientific theories is the following: that a psychological quantum fluctuation occurs at birth as the temporary appearance of energy particles out of empty space, as suggested by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Hence, by extension to psychology, creation of mental life is evoked in all its brilliance and mystery!

While envy at root is an unconscious information processing mechanism, after it arises, it bubbles up to the subliminal and consciously aware layers of mind. Here, if unmodulated by reason and positive emotions (love, aggreeableness, and cooperation, for example) with growth and development over time, envy behaves in ways that spoil, devalue, and efface that which is "good." 

An everyday phenomenon illustrating the surfacing of envy is found in attitudes characterized by "condescension" and "patronizing."

Envy, in essence, cannot tolerate any perception of "goodness."

Envy relentlessly attempts to delete goodness on every level.

This is why envy is so irrational and paradoxical. It seems to arise out of nowhere and then tries to obliterate what good is perceived as present and available. Speculations about the evolutionary roots of fear, predation, and xenophobia directly correlate with these ideas. This "no win-no win" scenario is maximally self-defeating.

This nonconscious modus operandi may be the "Grand Paradox" of the human mind--still present to this day, and eerily influential. Not only individual psychology, but social phenomena across the globe reflect such self-defeating uncooperativeness.


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...

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