Loving is not possession and even less is it control. However, the jealous person ends up acting guided by passive-aggressive instincts, in which hypervigilance, distrust and even blackmail cause profound attrition.
Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2022
Attacks of jealousy and passive aggression usually go hand in hand. From a psychological point of view, these two dimensions outline an emotion that is as complex as it is lethal, in which feelings that go from fear of abandonment to feeling humiliated, eventually leading to anger converge. Thus, feeling jealous, as we well know, makes no distinction of age, gender or culture and, moreover, gives life to situations that are as dangerous as they are destructive.
Shakespeare's fame is also due to his ability to paint all that kaleidoscope of emotions, characteristics and situations that define the human being so much. And so, one of his most interesting legacies continues to be Othello, with particular emphasis on the character who is one of the most peculiar and most Machiavellian villains of all: Iago.
It is because of Othello's clever and mischievous servant if the latter ends up losing his mind, after having made him believe that Desdemon, his wife, was unfaithful to him. Iago represents the obsessive and harmful inner voice that feeds the fire of jealousy.
It perfectly embodies our obsessive and disheartened mind, a mental echo that weaves the plots of that jealousy that makes room for itself in an insistent way and that collapses to the precipice of fatality. William Shakespeare must have understood Iago as one of his key characters: he dedicated about 1097 lines to him, almost the same ones that he dedicated to Hamlet or Richard III.
Feeling jealousy is - as Michel de Montaigne said - a sickness of the spirit and also our worst enemy.
Jealousy and passive-aggressive behavior: the inner voice that devours
Jealousy and passive aggression are two dimensions that revolve around a very specific fact. Jealous people don't show this emotion in an open and direct way. That is to say that a person does not approach his partner assertively stating that he feels offended when she sees him / her talking to someone else, that he feels anger and that he feels humiliated when he / she smiles at other people.
Indeed, he regularly puts into practice passive-aggressive attitudes, and instead of words he uses reproaches, hidden blackmail, enigmatic threats, continuous forms of contempt, indirect punishment by resorting to silence, indifference ...
It is an aggression that is initially served lukewarm, but which can sometimes mature into a more active form and which, of course, hurts. Let's see more information below.
Jealousy from the other ego
There is an interesting fact that William Shakespeare portrayed perfectly with the characters of Iago and Othello. The attacks of jealousy echo in the subject like an alter ego, like an external voice that creeps in and takes possession of us.
That figure feeds the fear of being abandoned and betrayed. It injects distrust into us and alerts us to non-existent dangers, to deceptions; it pushes our gaze on the signals and pushes us to take for real crazy ideas that suddenly become reasonable.
The study conducted by Dr. David De Steno, of the University of California, identifies in that symbolic voice that threatened ego, that part of ourselves that feels wounded and which, little by little, ends up giving rise to passive-aggressive behaviors.
Are the attacks of jealousy and passive aggression part of the genetics of the human being?
Some theories explain such attitudes with a genetic basis. Jealousy and passive aggression constitute a dark logic that, according to some psychology and anthropology, would reside in our genes. According to this approach, the human being is the result of an evolution based on survival and mating.
Social competition - combined with the fear of being betrayed and being alone - is an alarm bell that triggers a whole series of emotions and thoughts. The mind becomes hyper vigilant, obsessive and dimensions such as anger take over. To this we owe the aggression and the evident risk that derives from it.
Is it possible to learn to manage and limit attacks of jealousy?
The key to dealing with jealousy attacks is understanding a fact: absolute and prolonged fidelity does not exist. We could tell the jealous person that to love means to trust and that healthy affection puts aside anger, possession and hyper-vigilance.
However, sometimes we are faced with behavior based on attacks of pathological jealousy (obsession), where a series of upheavals associated with delusions appear. In these situations it is essential to resort to psychological therapy. Before answering the question in the title of this paragraph, it is good to keep in mind one simple aspect: each person is unique.
We can focus the therapy on limiting control behaviors (such as checking the partner's cell phone) or even on the deactivation of obsessive thoughts and on the enhancement of self-esteem and anxiety that comes from the fear of abandonment. However, most of all, it is necessary the clear willingness of the patient to want to implement the change, of wanting to become fully aware of the fact that attacks of jealousy are not compatible with a couple relationship. Let's keep that in mind.