Pain, Envy, & Our Brains

Finance can often be driven by envy as much as by greed. I recommend reading this article to understand what kind of studies have been conducted on the psychology & neurology of envy & pain.

Article Introduction (Via NYT)

Most human vices have enough sense to be very, very tempting. Lust, gluttony, sloth, hurling powerful if unimaginative expletives at a member of the political opposition, buying a pair of Thierry Rabotin snakeskin printed shoes at 25 percent off even though you just bought a pair of cherry-red slingbacks last week — all these things feel awfully good to indulge in, which is why people must be repeatedly abjured not to.

One vice, however, dispenses with any hedonic trappings and instead feels so painful you would think it was a virtue, except that there’s no gain in lean muscle mass at the end: envy. Skulking at sixth place on traditional lists of the seven deadly sins, right between wrath and pride, envy is the deep, often hostile resentment you feel toward somebody who has something you want, like wealth, beauty, a promotion or the admiration of peers. It is a vice few can avoid yet nobody craves, for to experience envy is to feel small and inferior, a loser shrink-wrapped in spite.

Additional Article Excerpts (Via NYT)

Envy is corrosive and ugly, and it can ruin your life,” said Richard H. Smith, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky who has written about envy. “If you’re an envious person, you have a hard time appreciating a lot of the good things that are out there, because you’re too busy worrying about how they reflect on the self.

They’re also tracing the pathway of envy’s equally petty foil, the sensation of schadenfreude — taking pleasure when those whom you envied are themselves brought down low.

We have a saying in Japanese, ‘The misfortunes of others are the taste of honey,’  said Hidehiko Takahashi, the first author on the report. “The ventral striatum is processing that ‘honey.’

When children realize they have siblings, their lives become dominated by the calipers of envy. Why does she always get to sit by the window? His cupcake has more sprinkles! No siblings? No problem: you can envy the cat.

Click Here To Read About How Our Brain Processes Envy & Pain

About Miguel Barbosa

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20. February 2009 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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