1 minute read


Types Of Jealousy

Various attempts have been made to distinguish between different types of jealousy. One important distinction is between normal and abnormal jealousy (Pines 1992). Normal jealousy has its basis in a real threat to a person's relationship with another. Most "normal" people experience intense jealousy when a valued relationship is threatened. On the other hand, jealousy is abnormal in two circumstances. First, jealousy is abnormal when it is not related to a real threat to a valued relationship, but to some inner trigger of the jealous individual. Such jealousy is also called delusional jealousy. Second, jealousy is abnormal when the jealous response is dramatically exaggerated or violent.

A similar distinction is made by Gerrod Parrott (1991), who believes the most important distinction concerns the nature of the threat to the relationship. Jealousy may occur when the threat is only suspected and its nature is unclear. On the other hand, it may occur when the threat is unambiguously real and its effects are known. When the threat is unclear or only suspected, the result is suspicious jealousy, and the predominant reactions concern fears and uncertainties. When the threat to the relationship is unambiguous and damaging, the result is a fait accompli: jealousy and the reactions are an accomplished fact.

Finally, Gregory White and Paul Mullen (1989) differentiate three major classes of jealousy. Symptomatic jealousy is a consequence of a major mental illness such as paranoid disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse, or organic brain disorders. Because of personality disorder or strong sensitizing experiences, some people are especially sensitive to self-esteem or relationship threat and experience pathological jealousy. Normal jealousy, on the other hand, occurs in people who are neither sensitized nor suffering from a major mental illness. These three classes of jealousy differ according to the relative influences of biology, personality, and relationship on the development of jealousy; in the jealous person's capacity for reality testing; and in suggested treatment approaches.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsJealousy - Dual-factor Conceptualization, Types Of Jealousy, Correlates Of Jealousy, Responses To And Coping With Jealousy