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by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
"Jealousy is an emotion based upon loss or the fear of loss such as a relationship or friendship. Often, the individual experiences negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity."


Jealousy has long intrigued and devastated humankind. If you examine classics of literature or even the Bible you will find numerous tales of jealousy and revenge. Early in the 1900's researchers were examining jealousy in college students. One reviewer of this research stated,"...jealousy is a fundamental instinct that bears strong resemblance to anger, fear and grief and shows relationship to the proprietary instinct. It is a safeguard against the social instinct, and mutual aid forms a strong off-set to jealousy (Withey, 1907)." In other words, jealousy is a basic instinct related to the need to possess especially within relationships and that the more people try to help one another rather than compete, the less jealousy is experienced.

Jealousy is an emotion based upon loss or the fear of loss such as a relationship or friendship. Other emotions such as anxiety, anger, grief, or sadness are typically present. Often, the individual experiences negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity. Although very similar, jealousy and envy are not considered the same emotion. Jealousy relates to the loss of something the person already possesses whereas envy is the desire for something the person does not possess. However, it can be argued that in some circumstances jealousy and envy may be virtually identical.

For instance, if a person was passed over for a promotion, she may feel envious towards the co-worker who received the promotion. Since she didn't lose something she already possessed (her job), it wouldn't be considered jealousy. However, we could state that she did lose something in her possession such as her sense of adequacy or competence that the promotion represented. In which case the feelings towards the co-worker could be considered jealousy. Therefore, even though scientific research makes a distinction between jealousy and envy, I think for the purposes of this article we will use both terms because many of the issues we cover will be very similar, if not identical. READ MORE: page 3

Introduction--When Is Jealousy Irrational?--page 1

What Is Jealousy?--page 2

When Is Jealousy A Normal Emotion?--page 3
What Is the Purpose of Normal Jealousy?--page 4

What Is Irrational Jealousy?--page 5

What Are the Problem Behaviors That Occur With Irrational Jealousy?--page 6
Causes of Irrational Jealousy--page 7

What Can Be Done About Irrational Jealousy?--page 8

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Dr. Monica Frank

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