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    Envy, competition and gender: theory, clinical applications and group work

    Baraitser, Lisa (2009) Envy, competition and gender: theory, clinical applications and group work. Psychodynamic Practice 15 (2), pp. 191-194. ISSN 1475-3634.

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    Leyla Navaro and Sharan L. Schwartzberg, in their edited collection, Envy, competition and gender, draw together a wide range of theoretical, clinical and group-orientated perspectives, in order to explore the ways in which gender operates in relation to envy and competition that are constantly at work in human interaction. In their varied discussions, the papers in this volume reveal a host of related emotions that inhere to envy, including anger, shame, humiliation, betrayal, rivalry, retaliation, dependency, loss and aggression, as they weave through our gendered personal, inter-subjective and working lives. However, despite this litany of negative emotions, one of the express aims of the book is to 'de-demonize' envy, and in doing so, redress the tendency to view envy as purely destructive and competition as the healthier constructive mode. Instead both envy and competition emerge as potentially constructive through their capacity to motivate us to strive towards 'betterness', ambition, self-actualization and achievement, as well as fostering identification with admired others that provide internal models to aspire to in creative and positive ways. One of the main tenets of the book, then, is to propose that by enabling clients in the consulting room to become more aware of their envious feelings towards others, as well as their feelings about being envied by others, so envy itself loosens its hold on the psyche, and energy used to maintain self-destructive modes of relating to self and others can be utilized in more helpful ways.


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