Jealousy - a powerful, primordial emotion.


To poet John Dryden, jealousy is the jaundice of the soul. For poet and activist Maya Angelou, it’s like salt: a little can enhance the flavour but too much can spoil the pleasure. Anthropologist Margaret Mead called it the barometer of a lover’s insecurity. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described it as a scorpion turning its poisoned sting against itself. There’s even a Greek god of jealousy — Phthonos — who accompanied the goddess of love Aphrodite. His female counterpart was Nemesis, she of jealous retribution.

But to most of us, jealousy is just a midnight Facebook creep, or a twinge when we run into an ex on a date, or the mild thrill of watching a co-worker flirt with our partner at the office Christmas party. It’s often part of dating.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, sees an evolutionary reason in most of love’s manifestations. In her book Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray, Fisher describes “this intense human affliction” as “a combination of possessiveness and suspicion of a partner.”

“It’s so powerful and primordial,” Fisher says. “It’s probably an evolutionary adaptation to protect your resources.”

“I’m convinced jealousy is biologically based. You certainly see it in every culture anthropologists have (studied).” (Hence Mead’s poetic description.)

Source : Toronto Star. Click here for rest of article

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