book abstracts  

Berman, A. (2006). Envy and Generativity: Owning Inner Resources.
In: Envy, Competition and Gender: Theory, Clinical Application and Group work. L. Navaro and S. L. Schwartzberg. London, Brunner\Routhledge.

Envy is based on interpersonal comparison. It stems from seeing what the other has, which I have not, or what the other has more of than myself. The "I haven't" or "It's not mine" experience is a necessary condition for the development of envy. This view is often accompanied by a deep sense of truth and pain. Do I really not have what I appraise the other to have? One may claim that there are two alternative beliefs regarding the amount of goodness in the world, either in shortage (or deficiency) or in plenitude. According to the first belief, goodness is limited. If someone has more, then the other has less. A person, who maintains this, feels that the other's advantage is necessarily at his own expense. On the other hand, believing in plenitude opens for the thought "the other and I have innumerable possibilities". Here the amount of goodness in the world is unlimited, allowing for the assumption that "I can have too". In reality, the two views are true as resources in the world are both limited and regenerating. How we process our perceptions of reality will depend on our subjective beliefs. These two alternatives influence the amount and modes of expression of one's envy. The evaluation of self-capability and self-worthiness has a basic nucleus, which is often experienced as possession of existing and regenerating inner resources. Following Erickson (Erickson, 1963), I suggest calling this experience "Generativity". This is an experience of the subjective owning inner resources that are constantly regenerating, like a fountain.

When generativity is functional and enabling, a person will feel capable and his envy will tend to be resolved through self-actualization and a sense of achievement. Abraham (1924) regarded the opposite of envy as being "Generosity", i.e. the capability of a person to be kind as an alternative to feeling envy.

In a developmental process in which this experience is not sufficiently well-grounded or was stagnated, a person's envy will be accompanied by anger and helplessness. It may be possible that the biologically-determined roles of women may include a greater capability for generativity, being psychologically primed to make "place for two" which would predispose towards the belief in plenitude. It may be argued that women's and men's generativity are different; women's generativity deals more with relatedness, while men's generativity deals more with the accumulation of socially significant achievements. In the western world, generativity of achievements is traditionally more socially valued than generativity of relatedness.

Dr. Avi Berman, Clinical Psychologist, Organizational Consultant, POB 1017 Ramat Hsharon Israel,

Dr. Avia Berman is Israeli delegate of EFPP group psychotherapy section.


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last modified: 2008-03-05