Medium 9781780490328

Why I Hate You and You Hate Me

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'Man' himself is the source of the dark forces against which he is constantly struggling. The book shows how is possible to transcend this basic malice by knowing how, what, why and when it arises. Envy, greed, jealousy and narcissism (the flip side of envy) are the essential components of the negative side of the self. Their positive counterparts are gratitude, generosity and compassion. Each element does not exist in isolation from the other. The interplay of these forces of hate and love create the underlying structure of our lives, which on a personal level is called "character" and on the social level is called "culture". When malice predominates the result is murder and mayhem, vandalism and war. This encompasses the blind butchery of our environment and fellow creatures which permeates so many areas of the world, such as Libya, Ireland, Congo, Cambodia, or central London during recent demonstrations. This study will focus on the negative or angry constituents of the personality. But it will not ignore love. On the contra,ry the author will demonstrate that when people overlook or deny the negative elements in their emotional life (because of guilt or fear), then the positive ones suffer too. As always, love and hate, benevolence and malevolence are inexorably intertwined. The overall purpose of the book is to develop a detailed understanding of mankind's capacity for destruction, as well as for making good.

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CHAPTER ONE. Witches, giants, and scary parents

ePub

The wicked witch is a withered old woman with bony hands, humpy back, and sharp-tipped teeth, who preys on the blood and flesh of boys and girls. She dresses in black because she is a creature of the night shrieking with delight as her owlish eyes discover a tender baby or chaste young girl. Jocular caricatures of long-nosed ladies with devilish hats riding astride flying broomsticks bolster beliefs that untold women possess vast powers of occult destruction (Cohn, 1976; Widdowson, 1973).

The legendary counterpart of such a hideous creature is the killer giant, whose huge size and fearsome strength conveys elemental forces given over to rampant evil. In Dante’s Inferno, he was an “archfiend”, while in Milton’s Paradise Lost, he was Satan personified as an enormous, malicious angel. Meanwhile, giants abound in myth and folklore from Cornwall to China. They are always well-equipped with savage teeth and raucous grunts, as well as clubs, hammers, and nowadays, guns (Opie & Opie, 1980).

Witches and giants are not only products of rampant imaginations, the child’s eye view of parents, or its parents’ scary constructions, but they actually touch upon archaic and not so archaic memories of childhood and child care. The witch represents the cruelly rejecting, depriving, devouring, treacherous mother, more concerned with her own looks, feelings, and needs than her child’s. She is a woman greedy for food, envious of youth and jealous of love, like the Cruella De Vil of contemporary cinema, a malign crone who can bring down misfortune by a curse or a glance.

 

CHAPTER TWO. It’s not fair

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Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colours … And his brethren envied him … And when they saw him afar off, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said to one another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we shall say, some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams. (Genesis, 37:3, 11, 18–20)

The story of Joseph, indeed, much of Genesis, is a discourse on sibling rivalry. The biblical origins of Western civilisation touch Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Sarah and Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and, in greatest detail, Joseph and his brothers. When they saw how much Jacob adored his eldest son, they were speechless with hatred, an animosity inflamed by Joseph’s vivid dreams of pre-eminence, which he took pleasure to report. Here the “evil beastwas the spirit of malicious vengeance aroused by paternal favouritism and fraternal pride.1

 

CHAPTER THREE. Defile, defame, and devour

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Ihave been describing the hatred and destructiveness that exists between parents and children as well as siblings. And I have referred to the components of the malicious impulses that fuel the shadow side of ourselves: envy, greed, and jealousy. But what are these negative or angry constituents of the human condition? How do they arise? How can they be distinguished from each other? Are they always harmful? In order to address these points I shall begin this chapter by exploring the question: how do people experience envy, greed, and jealousy?

Historically, envy has long been considered the worst of these impulses. Because it is so painful to the mind, the envious person will go to almost any length to diminish, if not destroy, whatever or whomever may have aroused it. Thus, long ago, in The Parson’s Tale, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote: “It is certain that envy is the worst sin that is; for all other sins are against one virtue, whereas envy is against all virtue and against all goodness” (1982, p. 506).

 

CHAPTER FOUR. On seeking the source

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Envy, greed, and jealousy have three components: perception—an awareness of something provoking an intolerable feeling; feeling—intense displeasure and vexation; and action—forceful, attacking, annihilating behaviour. But they also share a further basic feature. They are directed phenomena. In other words, envy, greed, and jealousy do not exist as destructive agents in their own right. They are malicious entities which always seek a target or object for their attacks. In this sense they are vectored emotions, where the focus of their interest is an intrinsic part of their subsequent actions. In the following three chapters I shall discuss the essential foci for their aggression. These are the source of life, the breast; the source of feminine energies, the womb; and the source of masculine energies, the phallus.

The breast is anything and everything that sustains the body, warms the heart, and calms the mind. Far more than an anatomical entity, it is a veritable cornucopia of love, security, pleasure, and relief of pain. For these very reasons the breast lies at the centre of human desire and hatred, and is the most appropriate starting point for considering the myriad real and symbolic objects which attract malice.

 

CHAPTER FIVE. On attacking femininity: womb envy

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The “good breast” and the “bad breast” are two aspects of the same breast. Which is which depends on a mixture of actuality, whether the breast is giving or withholding, as well as context and person. The context could include any number of reasons why caring may be delayed or facilitated, such as weather, traffic, illness, holidays, and so forth. But even more important is the feeding, feeling person, and how he or she reacts in perception and phantasy to the care on offer. If it is with love, then even a delayed feed will maintain goodness. But if it is with rage, then even the best breast will appear persecuting.

The same holds true for the second focus of malicious aggression, the womb, the centre of feminine creativity and achievement. Whether it appears “good” or “bad” depends on the attitude of the onlooker, as well as the personal and social context.

It is notable that this organ has long been considered to be an extremely dangerous one. Around 400 BCE the philosopher Democri-tus advised Hippocrates that: “… the womb was the origin of six hundred evils and innumerable catastrophes.”1

 

CHAPTER SIX. On attacking masculinity: penis greed

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The phallus is the embodiment of masculine creativity, just like the womb is the powerhouse of female creativity. The phallus, of course, is the male member. But it also refers to an idea or image of the penis. It denotes both the physical and the symbolic qualities of maleness.

An intense longing for male qualities, functions, and status features in many cultures, but in this century Freud drew special attention to phallic wishes during the course of describing the development of female sexuality. He observed that at a certain stage in their lives the physical interests of children shift away from the mouth and anus to the genitals. Then the little girl discovers what she lacks and passionately desires the missing part: “The discovery that she is castrated is a turning-point in a girl’s growth … Her self-love is mortified by the comparison with the boy’s far superior equipment” (Freud, 1933a, op. cit., p. 126); and “She makes her judgment and her decision in a flash. She has seen it and knows that she is without it and wants to have it” (Freud, 1925 j, p. 252).

 

CHAPTER SEVEN. Envy and narcissism

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As we have seen, three parts of the body, the breast, womb, and penis are the focus of the most intense destructive forces of human nature: envy, greed, and jealousy. Since envy is the most pernicious, and, indeed, amplifies the impact of all other forms of negativity, it is useful to explore the origins and ramifications of envy in greater detail.

Writing in The Metaphysics of Morals in 1785, the philosopher Immanuel Kant had no qualms about describing envy as “the vice of human hate”, a moral incongruity that delights in misfortune. He believed envy was a “hate that is the complete opposite of human love” and concluded: “The impulse for envy is thus inherent in the nature of man, and only its manifestation makes of it an abominable vice, a passion not only distressing and tormenting to the subject, but intent on the destruction of the happiness of others, and one that is opposed to man’s duty towards himself as towards other people” (1785, p. 36).

Years later, when Sigmund Freud first began to consider intense malevolence, he considered that angry attacks on the world, and everything in it, were secondary to what he called “Eros”, or “the life instinct”. Then he reconsidered and concluded that destructive forces were equal in importance and power to life-enhancing ones, and that the “life instinct”, “Eros”, was opposed by a “death instinct”, called “Thanatos”.1 This view was strongly supported by his colleague, Melanie Klein. She wrote at length about the nature of envy and argued that envy is the earliest direct manifestation or externalisation of the “death instinct” (1957, op. cit.).

 

CHAPTER EIGHT. Gratitude and grateitude

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Until this moment, I have been discussing the negative, hateful aspects of human nature: envy, greed, jealousy, and narcissism. But, as I have also shown, these experiences are constantly opposed by positive feelings of love, all the more so within the framework of gratitude, generosity, and compassion. In this chapter I will focus on deep appreciation, namely the complex thoughts, emotions, and actions that comprise gratitude. Afterwards I will explore the converse of gratitude, not simply ingratitude, which is another form of envy, but “grateitude”, a new term I have coined to denote a contrary state which includes envy, narcissistic pain, and active, aggressive reactions.

A sense of gratitude begins with, but is not the same as a state of gratification. The latter is a basic response to the good breast, whether mother’s warm soft body, or feeding, or food. In response, we can say that the recipient of such care, a baby or child, feels full and happy. But more than being happy, gratification initiates a blissful merging with the breast and a basic outpouring of love towards whoever provides life-sustaining nourishment (Klein, 1957, op. cit., p. 18).

 

CHAPTER NINE. On sulking

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Sulking is a state of sullen resentment, irritability, and negativity manifested by and through extreme inactivity. It is a key to understanding many self-destructive phenomena including the refusal to talk, to eat, or to thrive. Moreover, in therapy or analysis, sulking often lies behind the negative therapeutic reaction. Most severe conditions such as paranoia, somatic psychoses, and manic episodes may signify intense, unremitting, unrestrained sulking.

“Having the sulks”, “throwing a sulk”, or “being sulky” is a basic intermediary between primary aggressive impulses such as envy and jealousy and their subtle expressions, especially passive aggression. Curiously, very little has been directly written about “the sulks”, either in the psychological or popular literature. Perhaps this is because sulki-ness conveys an aggression which is sly and sneaky, a hidden hostility, generally disparaged as infantile, embarrassing, or downright shameful. To admit to it traps the sulker in a position of inferiority, vis-à-vis the non-sulker.

 

CHAPTER TEN. The resolution of malice

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Envy, greed, and jealousy are the negative constituents of character and culture. They are the dark forces, the essential elements of what the Kabbalah calls the yetzah harsh, the “evil impulse”.1 Frequently represented as the guile of the viper, the crunch of the shark, or the sting of the jellyfish, these impulses can exert a bitter tyranny over perception and feeling, indeed, all areas of human endeavour. They are the base reasons why we hate ourselves as well as hate each other.

Malice tyrannises the inner world by taking up too much of it. Greed feeds envy, envy breeds jealousy, and jealousy reflects self-hatred. On a personal level this leads to extremely destructive relations both between and within generations—parents versus children and siblings versus siblings. The same features, other-deflation and self-inflation, direct attack and narcissistic hurt, characterise the noxious interplay in and between individuals and their social container, which we call, society.

In the last two chapters I have also discussed the convoluted, concealed manifestations of these negative states including grateitude and sulking: the former, the active extension of envy, and the latter, the silent scream of hurt pride.

 

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