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Page Contents: The meaning of jealousy in psychotherapy.                    

 

I am realizing after almost two years of psychoanalysis that I have feelings I hide so well that I thought I did not have them. I am confused, feeling scared and vulnerable, but still very engaged to the therapy process and trying to understand myself. And when things seem to get better, something happen and I feel miserable again. Ok, now I am more resigned that this is the way it works.

A few weeks ago, I encountered one of the female clients of my analyst at the elevator, just that, and I felt so jealous! Jealousy is a feeling that I had never felt with anyone else (even with my husband) or this is the way I thought. I don’t know why I felt like this, because I sure know my analyst has other clients, right? But I felt rejected. I wondered if she is more intelligent and interesting than me, if she is making more progress than me and if she is in love with him as I am (and when I think so I can feel a little compassion for her because I know how it hurts, but still I do not want her to feel like that – can you see how far my feelings go?) I want the impossible, I want to be the only one.

Because of you (thank you for your website), I have encountered courage to talk about these feelings of love and, after that incident, jealousy. It is difficult to talk about this mainly because it does not make any sense at all (I keep feeling silly because it looks like as if I am demanding, asking for something that I already know I will not get, it is too embarrassing). He has comfort me saying that only if I talk, even if it makes no sense, we can work on what is behind these feelings.

My question is about the meaning of jealousy. I have not found much of this subject when it is not related to a real couple (husband and wife). Thank you in advance for your attention and sorry about my English (although I understand well, I am not good at writing).

 
For those professionals who have been trained properly, the unconscious does have its own language and its own logical structure, but, for the average person, the unconscious can be counter-intuitive and may not seem to make much sense at all. That is why many persons will try to make psychotherapy into something they can control. Usually they do this, as you yourself have done, with two characteristic self-protective strategies: (a) they hide things, and (b) they try to make the psychotherapist like them. In short, they turn psychotherapy into a game.

  

Now, in the pure sense of the word, a “game” refers to a process of social interaction that depends on procedural rules to ensure that all participants know what to expect of each other. If you were playing chess and your opponent suddenly pulled out a gun and shot you, you would be at a clear disadvantage. Therefore, because any participant interested only in the acquisition of power will dominate the others, games require rules of conduct to provide a certain fairness, so that true expertise, rather than raw force, should decide the outcome. Accordingly, politics is a game. Business is a game. Warfare is a game. And, like it or not, even romance is a game. 

Nevertheless, even though life is full of games, not everyone will always play by accepted rules. Some persons can feel so victimized and “out of control” that they will resort to pseudo-games, making up their own “rules” to gain an advantage. Terrorism is an example of a flagrant disrespect for civilized rules. Other pseudo-games can be more subtle, using tactics of deception and feigned honesty made possible through the use of language;[1] a client refusing to talk about certain things and trying to make the psychotherapist like her—through deceptive words, clothing, and behavior—is an example of this.

  

Therefore, it sometimes takes a psychologist to figure out a person’s game. In fact, figuring out the “game” of the client, and helping him or her to move on to honest interactions, is what the psychologist has to do in the psychotherapeutic process.

Now, because of my website, you have begun to reveal your secrets to your analyst; that’s good progress, so congratulations. Nevertheless, for the most part you are still playing a game, using your own secret tactics. Jealousy is one of those tactics, and it relates to the game of romance as played out in the erotic transference.

In your transference with your analyst, you are treating the analysis as a romance, and so you make it into a game. You so desire your analyst’s attention and admiration that you fear losing them—and, as a consequence, you experience an almost automatic (i.e., unconsciously motivated) hatred for any client who might come between you and your analyst.

  

This points to the essence of  jealousy. In the general sense of the term, jealousy occurs when you are so afraid of losing what you desperately want that you hate any person who might come between you and what you want.

  

You can overcome this jealousy in your psychotherapy if only you do what your analyst has already told you to do: talk, even if it makes no sense. Talk honestly about everything—even about thoughts and feelings that don’t seem to make any sense to you. It’s your analyst’s job to make sense of what you say. For your part, by talking honestly, and without playing games, you can work to understand what is behind your thoughts and feelings, and you can begin to respect, rather than fear, your unconscious. With nothing to fear, there is nothing to lose; with nothing to lose, there is no jealousy—and with no jealousy, psychotherapy, as well as life itself, finds real meaning.

 
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1. See Lacan, Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. (Jacques-Alain Miller, Ed.; Alan Sheridan, Trans.) New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1981. See also Berne, Eric. Games People Play. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964.

 


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