Jealousy is an emotional attitude primarily directed by an individual toward someone perceived as a rival for the affections of a loved one or for something one desires, such as a job, promotion, or award.
Jealousy is a combination of emotional reactions, including fear, anger, and anxiety. All humans occasionally experiences typical jealousy; caring about anyone or anything means that individuals can become uncomfortable and anxious at the prospect of losing the desired person or object, particularly to someone else. An unusually high degree of apathy would be required to prevent the experience of jealousy.
The extreme is obsessional jealousy, characterized by intense focus and nondelusional preoccupation with a romantic partner's supposed infidelities. The obsessional nature of the jealousy leads the affected individual to engage in acts that are ritual or repetitive as a consequence of the beliefs about infidelity. The obsessional jealousy causes the affected individual significant distress and causes impairments in activities of daily living.
Pathological jealousy, also called morbid jealousy, is significantly more intense than typical jealousy. Stronger and longer-lasting than normal jealousy, pathological jealousy is characterized by severe feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, suspicion, and/or paranoia. Healthy individuals recover from jealousy fairly rapidly, either by realizing that it is unfounded or through some other coping mechanism. Pathologically jealous people become obsessed by their fears and constantly look for signs to confirm that their suspicions are true. They may find it difficult to carry out the activities of daily living. People who are consumed by jealous feelings may behave in ways that will alienate others; jealousy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jealousy deprives its victims of the affection or success they are so eager to protect. Individuals experiencing morbid jealousy are prone to severe anxiety, depression, and anger management issues. Very jealous people may engage in self-destructive behavior or exhibit suicidal tendencies.
See also Antisocial behavior ; Attachment ; Codependence ; Narcissism .
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