JEALOUSY by Nancy Friday
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In My Mother/My Self (1977) Friday psychoanalyzed herself in order to understand her relationship with her mother, to heal its wounds, and develop ""universal Truths"" about the mother-daughter relationship. Same goals this time; target: Jealousy. The result? A fascinating but irritating book, fevered and chaotic. It begins with Friday's tawdry love affair with a man who humiliated her and drove her to paroxysms of jealousy. This liason bubbles up periodically as Jealousy careens on. At one point she discovers, ""My jealousy was projection onto him of my own desire for infidelity."" [Sic]. She conducts a running dialogue with several psychiatrists and tips in case histories of men and women and their experiences with the green-eyed monster. She also relies heavily on the theories of Melanie Klein (Envy and Gratitude). Klein claimed the seeds of both envy and jealousy are planted virtually at the mother's breast. Envy springs from the infant's awareness that the mother is all-powerful: the source of intense gratification and life itself; the baby wants that power for itself or, failing that, lusts to despoil the breast. Jealousy develops later when baby realizes that there are rivals for mother's attention. Friday deals extensively with the impact of women's liberation and the sexual revolution on the problems of jealousy and envy in male-female relationships. Men, she posits, must now devise ways of coping with envy when wives or lovers succeed in the marketplace, with jealousy when mates' careers intrude upon the attention they desire. Both sexes must also create ways of negotiating the quicksands of sexual encounters outside the relationship. But Friday finds reason for hope. As gender roles merge and diffuse, fathers have begun to take a more active interest in their children. This may ameliorate in adults inappropriate and destructive jealousy and envy. Double. parenting would enable infants to spread rage as well as love around, she says. ""We would not decide mother is the one who hates and is persecuting us. One of the most difficult lessons in life would be learned at a time when we could take it in most easily: Hate is part of the love relationship. Feeling it doesn't mean the relationship is destroyed. . . Two sources of love would free us from growing up with the terrible feeling that the one beloved is irreplaceable. From the beginning of life, when mother got angry, when she wasn't present, didn't father's arms bring balm and peace?"" Jealousy will delight Friday's fans and interest the self-help legions. Some may even obtain insights into their own emotional problems. Al. though its hyperbolic prose style tends to trivialize and oversimplify its subject matter, this book is evocative.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow