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Evidence for the compound noun jealousy (from Indo-European ai = ' fire '; Old High German eiver = 'the bitter, bitter, bitter' and Old High German suht = 'disease, epidemic ') has only been documented since the 16th century, the adjective jealous first derived from it since the 17th century.

Jealousy describes a painful emotion that can arise within a partnership , family or friendship relationship ; and that is when one feels that one has not or only insufficiently received an affection , recognition , attention , love or show of respect from the partner, the caregiver or another valued person. The jealousy is directed against a third person who supposedly or actually received this affection. It arises when the expectation of affection or love is supposedly or actually disappointed by the partner in that he allows this affection or love to come to someone other than himself. B. triggers a strong fear of loss , an offense or feelings of inferiority . Jealousy does not only originate from suspicions of sexual unfaithfulness . It also arises from a feeling of intimacy between the partner and a third person that excludes the jealous person (e.g. secrecy , loss of intimacy, breach of loyalty or trust ). This can trigger insecurity , fear , sadness and anger in the jealous person and sometimes lead to drastic, even violent actions (often acts of affect or revenge ).

For example, a child (from the age of six months) can become jealous when their parents give their siblings more attention. In adults, jealousy can occur when the partner flirts with another person , exchanges confidentiality or shows more attention, familiarity or appreciation and the observer perceives this as a threat to his own relationship. While the child's jealousy usually disappears when it receives the same attention from its parents, a jealous partner usually also demands unrestricted, exclusive attention and a healing of the loss of trust.

Jealousy as a mixture of feelings

Jealousy presupposes a subject and two objects: the object of the “claim” to love or the fear of loss (the partner) and the object of jealousy, which threatens the two-person relationship as an “intruder”. All in all, from a psychodynamic point of view, it is a three-way relationship.

The object of fear of loss is always a person or something that is granted personal status (e.g. a pet). Jealousy usually shows a person's own fears, insecurities and negative biographical experiences. So it can be that a person in jealousy fears loss, another breach of trust or a violation of values, yet another fears that the partner finds out in comparison that he himself is severely deficient (e.g. too boring). The object of jealousy is usually a person too, but theoretically it can be anything through which someone sees his “right” to love or his special position in the life of another endangered, such as a time-consuming professional project, a strong professional or social commitment or an excessively pursued hobby that takes a lot of time and attention out of the relationship.

The difference between jealousy and envy is that a jealous person is afraid of losing what (or whom) he loves and really or supposedly needs, and a jealous person wants what others have. For example, children are jealous when their mother pays attention to their siblings, but envious of their friend's bike that they would like to have.

One of the common causes of jealousy and envy is a self-esteem deficit. In the case of jealousy, the person concerned feels a lack of appreciation by a specific person, while envy is ignited by their own values ​​or those that the person concerned projects into a social group or society.

Physical reactions

Scientific studies at the University of California have shown that in the case of jealousy, the cingulate cortex and the lateral septum are particularly active. Through an increased release of testosterone and cortisol , the body is put into a state that is similar to the feeling before an impending fight - a reaction that can already be observed in the ancestors of humans and also in the animal world. If there is no fight, the excess hormone can lead to harmful, chronic stress.

Different causes of jealousy in the sexes

The man is often portrayed as pathologically jealous in film and literature. However, no gender-specific difference in jealousy intensity and perceptibility was recorded. The main difference, however, is that women are more likely to respond to actual or imagined emotional infidelity with jealousy, while men are more likely to respond to actual or imagined sexual infidelity with jealousy. This is what a study on the assessment of sexual and emotional infidelity by David M. Buss et al. from 1992. They also checked the physical reactions of the respondents; these supported the results of the survey. The study of homosexual partnerships also found that gays react more violently to potential emotional infidelity of their partner and lesbians to sexual infidelity of their partner more violently than their heterosexual counterparts. There are also gender-specific differences in the assessment of potential rivals. Men rate rivals according to status, strength and material, financial resources, while women rate the supposed competitor according to beauty and youthfulness.

Jealousy as a Subject in Literature

Jealousy - especially the husband's jealousy and the murder of the real or supposed "adulteress" - is a common theme in world literature . Examples:

  • William Shakespeare's tragedy Othello (around 1603) is considered a classic on the subject of jealousy. Othello kills his wife Desdemona because of a suspected affair that the intriguer Iago has persuaded him.
  • In Anatole Frances' little-read novel Le Mannequin d'osier (1897), the betrayed husband cannot forgive his wife for infidelity and therefore bears the greatest damage himself.
  • In Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis ' novel Dom Casmurro (1899), the main character and narrator cannot say with certainty whether his wife has cheated on him until the end of the plot.
  • In Lancelot (1977) by Walker Percy , the main male character discovers an affair with his wife many years after it happened and murders her.
  • In the Bible (Exodus 34 verse 14) God is described as jealous.

See also: Adultery in Literature .

Jealousy in the fine arts

In ancient mythography (stage art, painting) the personification of jealousy appears as a phthonos , whereby the distinction between (suspicious) vigilance, envy and jealousy remains fuzzy.

In the art of the Middle Ages, jealousy is not yet a significant topic, it focuses on the rare depiction of the seven women fighting over men's trousers. With the modern age, the motif initially unfolds allegorically and emblematically : The most widespread variant of several personifications in the Iconologia of Cesare Ripa shows as Gelosia (Italian for jealousy) a suspicious female figure whose dress is covered with eyes and ears. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the allegorical visual language disappears in favor of genre-like, anecdotal representations. Still with Paul Gauguin , Oh, You're Jealous of 1892, the focus is on the aesthetics of powerful colors and clear lines. A little later, at the turn of the century, with Edvard Munch's jealousy, art plunged into the psychological depths of the subject, which from then on remained decisive.


Web links

Commons : Jealousy  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Jealousy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Christoph Demmerling, Hilge Landweer: Philosophy of feelings, JB Metzler Verlag Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-01767-3 , pp. 195-217.
  2. a b Rolf Merkle: Jealousy: Where it comes from and how we can overcome it. 2., rework. u. exp. Edition PAL Verlag, Mannheim 1987, ISBN 978-3-923614-24-0 .
  3. Wolfgang Krüger: From jealousy can become love: The healing of an unloved feeling. Kreuz Verlag, 2013, ISBN 3-451-61184-8 .
  4. I. Seiffge-Krenke: psychotherapy and developmental psychology. Relationships: challenges, resources, risks. Springer Verlag Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-540-68300-1 .
  5. ^ A b Peter Kutter: Love, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy: A Psychoanalysis of Passions. (English). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; 2nd edition, 1998, ISBN 3-525-01713-8 .
  6. Heike Melzer: Focusing. The New Sexual Revolution - A sex therapist speaks plain language. Tropen Verlag, ISBN 3-608-50356-0 .
  7. ^ SL Hart, M. Legerstee: Handbook of jealousy: Theory, research, and multidisciplinary approaches . Wiley-Blackwell (2010). doi: 10.1002 / 9781444323542 .
  8. a b c Verena Kast: Envy and jealousy the challenge of unpleasant feelings. Unabridged edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-423-35152-2 .
  9. Danilo Rößger: Relationships: Instructions for use for a feeling: jealousy. In: Die Zeit vom: July 11, 2016, ISSN  0044-2070 .
  10. Beate Lakotta, Hauke ​​Goos: “Anyone can become a murderer”. The psychiatrist Andreas Marneros about the evil that is in us humans and about love that can lead to death . In: Der Spiegel . No. 36 , 2012, p. 54-57 ( online - Sept. 3, 2012 ).
  11. Andreas Bruck: Jealousy Coping: Ways Out of a Conflict of Interest (German Edition). Westdeutscher Verlag, 1992, ISBN 978-3-531-12275-5 .
  12. a b c Hildegard Baumgart: Forms of jealousy: experiences and attempts at solutions in the relationship triangle. Unabridged edition. German Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-423-34329-9 .
  13. Andreas Bruck: Jealousy Coping: Ways Out of a Conflict of Interest (German Edition). Westdeutscher Verlag, 1992, ISBN 978-3-531-12275-5 .
  14. Claudia Massmann: Jealousy - the fear of loss. In: Emotion Research. Claudia Massmann, November 19, 2016, accessed on September 8, 2017 (blog).
  15. Herbert Csef: Polyamory - a way out of the constraints of monogamy and destructive jealousy? ( Memento from April 23, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Journal for Psychology, Volume 22 (2014), Issue 1, August 26, 2014, on the psychodynamics of jealousy, pages 3–7 (PDF, 15 pages, 256 kB).
  16. ^ MP Wright: Intimate partner aggression and adult attachment insecurity: The mediation of jealousy and anger. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, 2017: 11 (2), pp. 187-198. doi: 10.1037 / ebs0000097 .
  17. Andreas Bruck: Jealousy Coping: Ways out of a Conflict of Interest (German Edition). Westdeutscher Verlag, 1992, ISBN 978-3-531-12275-5 .
  18. I. Seiffge-Krenke: psychotherapy and developmental psychology. Relationships: challenges, resources, risks. Springer Berlin (2009). ISBN 3-540-68290-2 .
  19. Daniel Ferrell: On Jealousy and Envy. In: Philipp Balzer, Klaus Peter Rippe (Ed.): Philosophy and Sex. Contemporary contributions. dtv Verlag, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-423-30728-5, pp. 113-146.
  20. ^ P. Salovey: The psychology of jealousy and envy . Guilford Press, New York, NY, US: (1991).
  21. ^ Peter Salovey: The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy . Guilford Publications, American Psychological Association; Washington (DC), March, 1991, Language: English
  22. Physical reactions to jealousy. Retrieved July 14, 2018 .
  23. Kenneth N . Levy , Kristen M . Kelly : Sex Differences in Jealousy. A Contribution From Attachment Theory , ( Memento of December 23, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) Psychological Science, February 2010, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 168–173 (PDF 242 kB).
  24. DM Buss, RJ Larsen, D. Westen, J. Semmelroth: Sex differences in jealousy: Evolution, physiology, and psychology. In WG Parrott, WG Parrott (Eds.), Emotions in social psychology: Essential readings , (pp. 143-149). New York, NY, US: Psychology Press (2001).
  25. ^ CR Harris: A Review of Sex Differences in Sexual Jealousy, Including Self-Report Data, Psychophysiological Responses, Interpersonal Violence, and Morbid Jealousy. Personality & Social Psychology Review (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates), (2003) 7 (2), pp. 102-128.
  26. Jasmine Andresh . Jealousy - The Dark Side of Love Article on Spiegel Online .
  27. Le mannequin d'osier. Retrieved March 28, 2018 .
  28. For the whole section see Ernst Guldan: Jealousy In: Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte, Vol. 4, pp. 954–963. Also digital: RDK: Article Jealousy .