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J Adv Nurs. 2000 Jun;31(6):1342-50.

Feeling of 'lacking' as the core of envy: a conceptual analysis of envy.

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Lecturer, Tavastia Further Education College, Social and Health Care, Hämeenlinna, Finland.


The aim of this paper is to explore the subjective experience of envy through concept analysis. Further, the study on which it is based aimed to answer questions about the composition and manifestations of envy. From the viewpoint of nursing science, the analysis of envy is based on a desire to understand human beings from the perspective of subjective health and illness and thus from a health promotion perspective. Envy is conceived of as a dimension of a person's health and illness. The concept is therefore meaningful from the viewpoint of nursing; it describes a phenomenon which enables us to deepen our understanding in a way relevant to nursing science. In the study the hybrid model developed by Schwartz-Barcott et al. was used for conceptual elaboration. In the theoretical phase of the study the subjective experience of envy was explored from the viewpoints of philosophy, religion, Finnish folklore and psychoanalysis, as well as nursing science. As a synthesis of these, a conceptual analysis of envy adapted from Wilson was conducted and a working definition of envy was proposed. In the fieldwork phase, envy was examined by means of an empirical analysis using a phenomenological approach. As a result, a classification describing the experience of envy was presented. The core experience of envy has been defined as a 'lacking', and the object of envy as something good possessed by someone else. Envy manifests itself in both destructiveness and creativity. The trends of development of envy are inflexibility and emancipation, and the essence of envy is multidimensional. Finally, the working definition of the concept was elaborated on the basis of the empirical phase and a new definition reflecting the composition and manifestations of envy was proposed.

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