Wednesday, January 5, 2011

envy, guilt, jealousy.

I did not receive any comments on my Obama post. Perhaps it was too far away from my reader's reality. So let me speak of something more personal.

The question has been asked: Are guilt, jealousy and envy part of the list of emotions in Emlit training?

I have preferred to keep the list limited to anger, fear, sadness, love, joy, hope. Jealousy, envy and guilt are in the grey area of this approach to emotional awareness.

In my opinion what definitely qualifies an experience as a primary emotion is if it is visible in one of the "lower" mammals. On that basis, envy is not a primary emotion because I haven't been able to detect envy in cats or dogs or other animals. On the other hand guilt and jealousy could be said to be visible in animals. Still just because it may not be visible in the lower mammals does not prove that cannot be present in humans.

Each primary emotion has distinct bodily, hormonal correlates which generate a feeling experience (adrenalin, oxitocin, serotonin) and in my opinion there are more than five, less than ten, primary emotions. Envy in my opinion (I could be wrong) is not one of the primary emotions. .Jealousy is a complex emotion which combines (depending on the person) experiencing it a number of different primary emotions. Examples: love+sadness or love+anger+fear or any number of other forms of jealousy. About guilt I'm just not sure

I have had many discussions on the subject without definitive conclusions, My purpose is to simplify the process of awareness and differentiation. In the end I will not argue if someone says they are feeling envy or guilt. If they say that they are feeling humiliated or discounted which are definitely not emotions I will search for the primary emotion behind the experience.


  1. Is there a reason why there are no comments?

  2. Hi Claude,
    one reason for not answering might be that you have to create a profile. Now I did - here my answer.
    Dear Claude,

    interesting questions. It's no question for me that envy, guilt and jealousy are some kind of emotions.

    But -I think on a higher level. For example: you need to have a developed instance like a Parent - Ego - State to be able to feel guilt. I'm not sure if a dog has this - maybe he is only afraid about the consequences without really knowing what is right or wrong. But I'm not a expert to answer this question. On the other hand guilt has qualities of fear, may with self-aggressive influences of the critical parent.

    Envy might come from the self-defensive instinct when there was not enough to eat or when there were not enough chances to have sex. And the evolution developed the feeling in a more complicated way.

    Jealousy - you described it very good.

    Love: this is for sure more then a feeling, but it is a feeling.

    It's not so easy to make this discussion in English. Maybe we need translation.


  3. Sure, we can break up complex emotions to simpler constituents, but that's a skill. When you hear a chord you can't break it up into separate notes unless you have a good and trained ear.

    Perhaps training to "hear" the limited set of emotions (anger, fear, sadness, love, joy, hope) is enough, but I think training to break up more complex emotions might be useful, too.

    And keep in mind that people have different priorities when classifying emotions (and other things), see the experiment in, so I imagine one person might be breaking complex emotions differently than another.

  4. > Is there a reason why there are no comments?

    Personally I see people commenting in Facebook more than in personal blogs. That might have to do with a gradual involvement (there is a smaller step from Like to comment than from silence to comment)
    and with the fact that Facebook will show people your post, while a personal blog generally just sits there on its own, nobody knows you wrote something in it until later, and when a person occasionally discovers it your post is too far in the past.