Why are some people jealous of everyone

Why are we jealous?

Where does the word "jealousy" come from?

The term actually sounds strange: there is alcohol addiction, there is gambling addiction, but what is an addiction to zeal supposed to be? If you look for the roots of the word, then they lie in a time when the terms “addiction” and “zeal” did not have the same meaning as they do today. In Old High German, “eibar” means something like “sharp, bitter”, sometimes also meaning “painful”. And the word addiction was originally broader.

"Suht" in Old High German was a general term for disease, also related to today's word "epidemic". The term jealousy originally meant something like “pathological bitterness” or “bitterness”.

Can jealousy turn into an addiction?

The question arises, of course, above all in the case of pathological jealousy, in which the person concerned exhibits delusional distrust and obsessively searches for clues for possible infidelity. Has that to do with addiction? You have to say: only very distant. The most important similarity to classic addictive behavior is the loss of control: just as the drug addict knows that he is harming himself, but still cannot help but consume the drug, the pathologically jealous person often also knows that his mistrust is exaggerated and little in line with reality has to do; and yet he can't help it.

Similarity to drug addiction?

And the second similarity is, of course, that the jealous person, like the drug addict, gradually climbs into this pathological state. But of course there are also big differences: the drug addict experiences a temporary reward when he consumes the drug - that's how the addiction works: via the reward system in the brain. With the drug, he activates his reward system - he gets a brief feeling of elation, only to plummet all the more deeply afterwards. Jealousy, on the other hand, is of course no, not even short-term, reward; those affected suffer from the start and experience no feeling of elation. That's an important difference.

The "jealous" brain has hardly been explored

Further comparisons are difficult, because what exactly happens in the brain when there is jealousy has not yet been researched in detail. Where there are still similarities, however, are the conditions in which they arise: Certain factors that favor drug addiction also favor pathological jealousy. For example, a low self-esteem. It is also known that alcoholics are more susceptible to pathological jealousy. In this respect, jealousy is not a real addiction like drug addiction, gambling addiction or computer addiction, but there are definitely connections and parallels.

Does evolution explain jealousy?

From the point of view of the theory of evolution, jealousy makes biological sense: it enables the man to keep rivals willing to copulate at a distance from his wife and to pass on his genes. Jealousy also protects his children from having his wife have new children from a rival and thereby neglecting his children - his genes.

Evolutionary psychologists argue that this also applies to women: women are primarily concerned with creating a lasting emotional bond with the producer of their children so that he can provide for them and their children. This is why women also react sensitively to clues about their partner's feelings for other women. At least that is what evolution theorists like David M. Buss have given.

Criticism of the evolutionary explanation

For the psychotherapist Dr. Wolfgang Krüger, such scientific explanations are great diversionary maneuvers that lead us away from the real thing. And this "essential" is the jealousy of the individual.

Jealousy is not a natural occurrence; instead, it has social and individual psychological causes: It is about the loss of love, about being excluded from a relationship that previously gave one support and meaning. It's about social identity.

Jealousy as a signal and an opportunity

The good jealousy, according to Krüger, makes you realize where the relationship could be threatened. Where does alienation take place in the relationship?

The "good" jealousy is an occasion to ask whether something and what can be changed in the relationship. That means: talking to each other more, doing more together, creating opportunities to experience each other as a team. It is more difficult when the jealousy can no longer be controlled without therapeutic help.

One possible strategy starts with creating distance between the feeling of jealousy and whoever is feeling it. The jealous person should take responsibility for the feeling by making it clear to himself: it is I who feel. The feeling does not come from outside, not from a person who has betrayed and betrayed me, but from me. Then this I is strengthened as a lovable and self-determined one.

Power and suffering

Jealousy is also a special form of striving for power, summarizes a classic in psychology, Alfred Adler. But this pursuit of power also makes the jealous suffer:

“As a jealous person I suffer fourfold: because I am jealous, because I blame myself for my jealousy, because I fear that my jealousy will hurt the other, because I let myself be subjugated to banality: I suffer from being excluded, being aggressive to be crazy and to be ordinary. "

... sums up the philosopher Roland Barthes. He doesn't care which jealousy is normal or delusional. In any case, it is uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Open relationships and jealousy

Reason enough, believes Friedemann Karig, to try other forms of relationships. It used to be called "free love". Friedemann Karig prefers to call it "open relationship" in his book "How we love. From the end of monogamy". For his book, he interviewed people who love differently and thus - sometimes - also live better.

A common reason for separations are infidelities: The partner cheats, often secretly, without the knowledge of the other. The resulting injuries undermine the relationship. So why not open up the relationship in consultation with one another? Why not do what many do in secret, openly and honestly: Flexible, considerate and in constant communication with the partner?

The 68s propagated "free love" because they wanted to destroy the bourgeois nuclear family with it. In it they saw the "nucleus of fascism", the cementing of authoritarian relationships and thus a major obstacle to real social change.

But the end of monogamy, as discussed by Friedemann Karig, does not solve the jealousy problem. An open approach to it and less secrecy and deception could, however, help to tame the "animal jealousy" of which Tolstoy speaks a little.

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