The definition of envy used by Klein is the angry feeling that another person possesses and enjoys something else desirable, often accompanied by an impulse to take it away or spoil it. Contemporary writing also recognises envy as a painful affliction. Klein thinks that envious impulses, oral and anal sadistic in nature, operate from the beginning of life, initially directed against the feeding breast and then against parental coitus. She sees envy as a manifestation of primary destructiveness, to some extent constitutionally based, and worsened by adversity. The attack on the good object leads to confusion between good and bad, and hence difficulties with depressive position integration. Envy heightens persecution and guilt. Klein came to see gratitude as an expression of love and thus of the life instinct, and as the antithesis of envy.
For full references for Melanie Klein's works visit the 'Melanie Klein's publications' section.
1928 Klein, M. 'Early stages of the Oedipus conflict'. Envy during the early Oedipus complex, manifest as desire to spoil the mother's possessions.
1932 Klein, M. The Psychoanalysis of Children. A small child's envious attacks on phantasied parental coitus.
1945 Klein, M. 'The Oedipus complex in the light of early anxieties'. Envy of the mother in the Oedipus complex of both sexes.
1952 Klein, M. 'The origins of transference'. The prototypical envy-provoking phantasy of the parents combined in everlasting mutual gratification.
1955 Klein, M. 'On identification'. A literary example showing envy as an important factor in projective identification.
1957 Klein, M. 'Envy and gratitude'. Klein's seminal paper on envy and gratitude, where the two are first explicitly paired.
1959 Klein, M. 'Our adult world and its roots in infancy'. A straightforward and comprehensive outline of the paired concepts of envy and gratitude.