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The Origin of Illness
Psychological, Physical and Social
By Norberto R. Keppe, Susan Berkley, Margaret Pinckard Kowarick
Campbell Hall PressCopyright © 2000 Proton Editora Ltda.
All rights reserved.
Goodness is the hardest thing for us to accept
"We need greater virtue to sustain good than evil fortunes."
— François de la Rochefoucauld
Goodness is always difficult to accept. We are accustomed to thinking that we want what is good, because that would be rational, but the fact is we act primarily in response to our emotions, and these are founded on envy, on an inverted sense of values.
The envious person has inverted values because he rejects what is positive: goodness and happiness — and then when he has made a mess of his life, he complains that he doesn't feel well. Health and well-being depend on a person's acceptance of what is good. In order to be healthy, we must be grateful, but if our envy is too strong, we will reject any feeling of gratitude.
Envy is directed precisely against those people and things a person needs the most, which is what makes this a contradictory "feeling": at the same time the individual needs a particular person, he denies this and turns against that person, preventing himself from benefitting from what is most essential. In doing this, the envious person destroys the source of his happiness and well-being. What can one do for the envious person if he rejects what he most likes and needs? This is the terrible dilemma into which people get themselves.
* Patient (starting to cry): I think I'm still sick.
* Analyst: Is that what your doctor told you?
* Patient (still sobbing): No. It's my own idea.
* Analyst: In that case, are you crying because you suspect you're sick or because you see that you're well?
We see here that consciously the patient wants to be healthy — but unconsciously she wants to be sick. I believe that what is generally referred to as the unconscious is in fact a rejection of consciousness — a theory which Freud rejected but which I believe to be valid.
It appears that our fundamental pathological behavior is to impede, destroy or diminish everything good that exists, including one's own existence — a type of behavior linked to unconscious impulses that stem from our psychogenetic structure, which is why deformities may occur from the time the fetus is formed. We are forced to admit that we carry, without perceiving it, an enormous burden of pathogenic factors that plague us our entire lives.
The primary good object that the envious person sabotages is his own life, which can be symbolized by the mother (the object) in relation to the infant who rejects her — but which in reality is a rejection of life itself. Envy, then, is the rejection of everything good that exists: it is the source of illness, of failure, and mainly of man's unhappiness. In any case, Lucifer was opposed to being (life) and thus bequeathed to us that sad "legacy."
Original (unaltered) thought and feeling are always positive. Therefore, if a person is feeling bad, it is because he is denying, omitting or distorting his true ideas and emotions. The envious person opposes reason, affection and work for the very reason that these are the things that benefit him — which means that he does not want good for himself. With envy the person refuses to admit any feeling of gratitude, because doing so would mean having to acknowledge the goodness of others.CHAPTER 2
Goodness, not evil, causes the envious to suffer
When an envious person complains about someone, the implication is that something bad in the other person causes them to suffer, not that their suffering comes in fact from the other's goodness. This is the opposite of what one might think. Any good thing you do for an envious person will typically be met with fury, anger and aggression. One asks: what can be done with a person like that? He bites the hand that feeds him, spits on the plate he eats from, attacks the one who shows him affection and slanders those who help him. And mainly, he detests those who do good.
* Patient: My husband is cheating on me.
* Analyst: What do you mean?
* Patient: I suspect he's having an affair with his secretary.
* Analyst: Why have you become suspicious? Has he or the secretary given you any reason to believe there is something going on between them?
* Patient: No. In fact she is much older than he is and only interested in her work and her family.
* Analyst: In this case aren't you doing everything you can to establish a negative idea about him? Isn't it more a question of envy?
It is very common for the envious person to dig until he finds a defect in the other so that he can vent and justify his vile feelings. But for the most part, he sees in the other all of his own intentions; in this case, her sexual voracity. This attitude leaves the other totally confused, unable to understand such accusations.
* Patient: I see that envy doesn't let me participate in life.
* Analyst: What do you associate life with?
* Patient: Satisfaction and happiness.
* Analyst: Then you don't accept satisfaction and happiness?
* Patient: I accept both, but not the way to achieve them.
* Analyst: And how would you do this?
* Patient: I don't know. I don't see. I only know that I used to share in the happiness of others.
* Analyst: And now that you don't wish to make anyone happy, you don't receive this pleasure for yourself either.
* Patient: Isn't that a devilish attitude?
* Analyst: You're saying that you identify with devils!
Any and all feelings of envy affect not only the life of the person from whom such feelings emanate, but the world around him as well. What most offends the envious person is not the behavior of someone else but that person's very being. They do not want the person they envy to exist and they fight with all their might to make that person succumb. The envious do not admire anyone considered a genius and thus fail to benefit from their contributions. The greater the envy, the fewer the ideals; the greater the ideals, the less the envy — for the capacity of a person is inversely proportional to their envy.
The unhappiness the neurotic person feels, the apathy, their lack of interest in life and critical nature are all due to their colossal envy. What we call positive thinking (looking at the world with optimism) cannot exist in an envious mind. When theologians warned against the seven deadly sins (pride, anger, greed, laziness, gluttony, envy and lust) they did so because such types of behavior disrupt personal well-being. The prideful (arrogant) generally isolate themselves in their delirious thoughts. The angry have no time left over to organize their lives. The greedy live in a world the size of the dollar bills they have in the bank. The lazy are obviously unable to achieve any sort of success. Those who eat too much cannot deal with anything except their voluminous and uncomfortable body. Those who fantasize too much about sex fall into a torpor similar to that of the drug addict. But those whose envy is very strong will attack everything in life: their mind, their well being, their work, money, friends, love, intelligence; in other words, anything good — because envy is the root of all vices and all evils.CHAPTER 3
Envy prevents us from seeing the good things in life
* Patient: I dreamed I was in a very beautiful place I had never been in before and I was enthralled.
* Analyst: Note that as you become more aware of your envy you begin to see wonderful things you weren't aware of before.
Envy makes us blind and prevents us from enjoying all the good things life has to offer — and because of this, the envious makes their lives very disagreeable for themselves. Just as destructive attitudes (vices) lead to an unhappy life, so do good attitudes (virtues) lead to well-being.
* The patient continued: Because envy devalues everything, I reject things I want to do even before I do them.
* Analyst: So we can conclude that the envious person suffers a lot.
Another patient who had remained silent for months in the group therapy sessions said the following:
* Patient: I always had the idea that my eternally silent attitude showed my superiority, but now I see it's because of something else: my envy.
* Analyst: Can you give me a better idea of what you mean?
* Patient: I see that by not saying anything I also harm myself, because in the school where I teach, the same thing happens. When I want to explain something, I don't know what to say.
It's a curious fact that people think only others will suffer from their aggression. Our degree of understanding depends entirely upon our envy: the less envy, the more we understand. The more envy, the less awareness/knowledge. I believe that modern scientists have been so fond of inductive reasoning precisely because it gives them the freedom to link understanding and envy — the origin of all absurd theories.
Envy is like a poisonous snake that hides in the corner waiting to attack its unsuspecting victim — except in this case, the aggressor and the victim are initially one and the same. Envy is the only two-way "feeling" (coming and going) that easily deceives its originator. It is everywhere, yet it appears to have almost no purpose in life. At the same time it appears to be like an insidious little animal and a stampeding elephant, capable of destroying a whole region.
What is the worst thing envy causes? The absence of happiness in the life of the envious person and all of the resulting disturbances named in the seven deadly sins: a desperate desire for money, a voracious appetite for food and sex, a refusal to work, and anger and arrogance in the face of what is good. In other words, envy is the mother of all ills; mankind's original sin. All displeasure for life comes from the envy one harbors toward goodness, thereby preventing ourselves from benefitting from it.
If something is making you unhappy, if you are feeling vaguely uneasy, it is surely because you are experiencing the "feeling" of envy. And to better understand envy, one has only to compare it to the feeling of gratitude (a true feeling), which implies a love of life and all it has to offer.CHAPTER 4
The envious person is both starved for affection and dangerous
The envious person behaves aggressively, all the while complaining of a lack of affection.
* Patient: Whenever things are going well I become furious.
* Analyst: How so?
* Patient: I see that because of envy I don't accept goodness and that's why I like to watch violent movies in which everything is destroyed.
* Analyst: Then isn't that a question of inversion? The worse the destruction, the more you like it?
As long we humans fail to perceive how strong our envy is, there will be neither peace nor true development. Our behavior will continue to be destructive toward all of the good we receive, including the good of our own lives.
* Patient: I notice how difficult it is for those of us who are co-owners of our companies to assume responsibility for them. They are the best thing we have and we don't even realize they're ours.
* Analyst: Isn't that because the process of envy keeps you from accepting what is good?
* Patient: The consciousness of that fact just doesn't seem to sink in.
The same is true for the majority of human beings, who are destroying the very planet on which they live as if the world were not their own.
* Patient: I always think other people are out to do me harm.
* Analyst: Or is it that you don't want to see that you blame others for the harm you do to yourself?
The process of envy causes a person to project, to invert the truth. Instead of seeing that he himself is ruining his life, the patient sees his destructive attitude in others.
The phenomenon of inversion in psychological life bewilders many psychotherapists because their patients a) generally attack those who benefit them — including the psychotherapists themselves, and b) by doing this they keep from being cured of their ills — so how can they get better if they aren't willing to accept improvement?
The envious see everything, good as well as evil, as being outside themselves. That is why they try to find happiness (well-being) by traveling, following special diets or exercise programs, going to parties, seeking personal recognition, or by following fads and joining cults. At the same time, they see everything bad as coming from others, from outside themselves, which is why they tend to be aggressive and generally become unpleasant to be with.
How can an envious person be helped if they see everything in an inverted manner; i.e. opposite to the way it really is? When young, they refuse to accept their parents' guidance because they project onto them their own bad intentions, and they do the same with their teachers. Later, in the workplace, they distrust the company they work for, just as they distrusted their parents. If they go to a doctor or a psychotherapist they act the same way. Suddenly they notice that life is slipping away and they haven't accomplished much, if anything.
The point I wish to make is that if one's envy is not perceived and thus cannot be corrected, it will be impossible to accomplish anything of value. Therefore, if true culture and civilization are to exist, it is absolutely necessity to consider psychotherapy a universal requirement.
Excerpted from The Origin of Illness by Norberto R. Keppe, Susan Berkley, Margaret Pinckard Kowarick. Copyright © 2000 Proton Editora Ltda.. Excerpted by permission of Campbell Hall Press.
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