Jealousy - Psychotherapy & Counseling NYC, New York

Therapy: Jealousy

"Altering Jealous States"

Jealousy is ubiquitous in human nature. It can serve evolutionary survival purposes, like fortifying families and social bonds. However, when it rears its ugly head, with great intensity and frequency it can lead to abuse and violence. It can thrive like a cancer as a source of emotional torture within the individual experiencing chronic states of jealousy and making life unbearable for those close to him or her. Often jealousy erupts when other sources of stress enter one’s life.

Depleting potential ways of reassessing an interpersonal situation, jealousy can create intractable tension within families, work settings and a myriad of other contexts. At its worse, it can destroy marriages, fracture families and disrupt businesses, or, for that matter, any joint human endeavor. It forecloses dialogue and mutual understanding. It breeds suspicion, contempt as well as biochemical alterations leading to escalation of stress and its regulation.

Often triggered when a perceived threat emerges between an implicit or explicit bond and expectation of loyalty between two individuals and sometimes groups, jealousy can be felt like a knife stabbing one’s soul. This can take form in a child feeling that a parent(s) prefers a sibling over themselves leading to sibling rivalry. A spouse’s sense of possessiveness or need to own the partner can lead to obsessive trailing, for example, compulsively checking e-mails and texts. In the extreme, stalking can occur which also can be a manifestation of a lurid fantasy life involving projection of the object’s sexual longings and desires as a validation of the stalker’s inner world. Jealousy is distinct from envy as the latter does not necessarily involve a relationship with the person who has some trait or achievement that is coveted.

The emotional upheaval that is characteristic of the roller-coaster of pervasive jealousy, regardless of context, needs to be understood. Often, strong forms of jealousy develop as a result of damaged attachment from a caregiver or other significant other that encodes a constant fear response that abandonment or humiliation will ensue if one is not hyper-vigilant. This emotional mandate can lead to relentless scrutinizing for any threat to a precarious sense of psychological equilibrium. Past relational trauma involving betrayal in any form needs to be explored and processed rather than attempting to be mastered through intense interpersonal control. This often occurs after an affair when jealous feelings are natural and self-protective incited by a system of mistrust.

Jealousy needs to be understood as a way that past painful experiences are re-enacted. Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis can help to illuminate this process as jealousy is placed in perspective of past unmet needs, narcissistic wounds, as well as considering cultural entitlement in reference to possessiveness of one sex over another. Couple and family therapy treat the entire system that may be promoting jealous states. With understanding of motives, trust and re-assessment of interpersonal intent a significant alteration of jealous states can be achieved.

Jealous Man Overlooking His Partner As She Whispers Into A Telephone