This article discusses an important aspect of envy as an unconscious information processing mechanism. Since the proposition of "unconscious" denotes outside awareness, deeply hidden from easy conscious examination, several conjectures--some highly abstract--are introduced and may be perplexing. Intelligent consideration of these theoretical ideas requires open-minded consideration.
A word of warning is needed: often, conjectures about unconscious processes 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.
These "elements" are 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 called the "God particle" since it is so elemental.
In my recent book, Biomental Child Development: Perspectives on Psychology and Parenting (2013), I again discuss the Higgs field concept and draw a parallel to "mental space." Mental space correlates with the opening of mind and mental processes. This is a mentalization of real life experience. It is an ecologically valid idea emphasizing the meaningfulness of salient human experience as the “mental” aspect of the biomental person.
This conception argues that mental space "in the beginning" at birth is a directionless vacuum within which mental particles (“bosons”)--sensations, feelings, thoughts, imaginations, and fantasies--are given the opportunity to arise, take shape, and interact.
Envy, as described in the Envy Theory book, posits that fission is possible in this "birthing chamber" that becomes the mind. A rough approximation to scientific theories is the following: that a psychological quantum fluctuation in brain matter occurs at birth as the temporary appearance of energy particles out of empty space, as suggested by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Mental fission is the nucleus of a mental atom splitting into smaller and subtler parts. Hence, by extension to psychology, creation of mental life is evoked, and the mind becomes populated 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 (e.g., love, agreeableness, cooperation, and gratitude) over time, envy behaves in ways that spoil, devalue, and efface that what is "good." Envy acts as anti-creation.
An everyday phenomenon illustrating the surfacing of envy is found in attitudes characterized by "condescension" and "patronizing."
Envy cannot tolerate any perception of "goodness."
Envy relentlessly attempts to delete goodness on every level.
Envy is mental “anti-matter.”
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. When these onetime survival mechanisms go awry, a "no win-no win" scenario is set up and becomes 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 also social phenomena across the globe show such self-defeating uncooperativeness.