Psychological health

Jealousy: Is It Always Pathological?

One day I saw Verdi Othello At the Royal Opera House in London, based on Shakespeare’s play. I had only seen a week ago Cavalleria Rusticana By Mascagni and Leoncavallo’s Pagliaccisingle-act opera performances are usually presented as a double bill and are colloquially known as Kaf and Bag. Three operas in a row depicting the tragic consequences of romantic jealousy (that’s enough operatic jealousy for the time being; I don’t plan on adding Bizet Carmen to the list anytime soon) got me thinking about the psychological aspects of this very problematic passion.

Why do we feel jealous? Like everything else in our nature, emotions like jealousy have an evolutionary basis. We feel them because they prefer to survive and reproduce. We couldn’t survive long without our mixed and sometimes chaotic feelings, which is why we are unable to experience long periods of absolute happiness. This obligatory emotional package includes negative emotions such as anxiety, which help us avoid risks, as well as positive emotions associated with the satisfaction of needs, such as contentment. The function of romantic jealousy in a heterosexual couple is also associated with these primitive criteria, in this case it is specifically related to reproduction. A man will want to make sure he continues to have access to his chosen sexual partner, but crucially he will also want to make sure he is the genetic paternal if his partner gets pregnant. So he may feel the need to protect against a potentially opportunistic cuckoo who will plant his own seed and then take off unnoticed.

Still from an evolutionary perspective, a woman will be primarily concerned with making sure her child has all the resources needed to survive. If her partner distributes his emotions to more than one woman, these resources will spread and dwindle.

In either gender, low self-esteem is often the trigger for feelings of jealousy, but the focus exclusively on the jealous person is oversimplifying. This is because jealousy, for the reasons described above, is not always – or perhaps frequently – pathological or abnormal. If the partner is ambivalent or non-committal, he may give signals that make the other party feel insecure and possibly jealous. In other words, just as sometimes feeling fear and vulnerability is well suited to the circumstances that validate these feelings, so will jealousy be well suited when the threat is real. It follows that in this type of situation, the jealous person does not need treatment or treatment. Alternatively, the relationship itself may need treatment, or otherwise, its components may need to separate and move on. Accusing you of infidelity (explicitly or implicitly) has a stifling effect that often hastens the termination of a relationship.

Jealousy in rare cases can become pathological and even delusional, necessitating psychological treatment. When this happens, it is important to ensure the safety of the person accused of cheating, as Othello’s story tragically illustrates. One striking feature of pathological jealousy (also known as Othello syndrome, by the way) is the jealous person’s need to prove their partner’s infidelity. Rather than being afraid to find such evidence, they actively seek it. The pain of not having the evidence is greater than the pain of finding it.

Next time I book an opera ticket, I’ll try to see something a little less painful and tragic. I can’t imagine another story of romantic mistrust, but pleasant operas are rare. Even then, the threat of infidelity remains a recurring theme even in light operas, such as Mozart’s. Cozy Van Toot.

Oprah loves jealousy because it is a lonely dramatic experience. As the novelist Elizabeth Bowen said, “Jealousy is nothing more than loneliness against smiling enemies.”

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