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Pathological Envy of Power

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Ok so this is probably a weird problem I have but please just hear me out. I really need to talk to someone to help understand what’s wrong with me because there is no listed disorder that accurately matches what I feel like and nobody shares my experience but I think I have a problem. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always had this problem with pathological envy and identity? I always felt like I had no real sense of self and I and my own interests just kind of shape shifted and warped to people’s expectations, and that I was inferior to people because I was not as smart or powerful and so I blatantly imitated anyone I thought was better than me (looks, behavior) because I /wanted/ to be them rather than myself even if they were fictional and not even a realistic goal. Instead of looking up to halfway decent role models, I always picked narcissistic, cold-blooded, Machiavellian villains who exploited other people (as a baby my favorite Aesop’s character was the fox). I was fully aware that they were scumbags but I still liked them even BECAUSE of that, and I felt like if I couldn’t be aggressive and cunning and coldly and gain power and control through trickery and use people like them I was worthless and vulnerable. I felt like that as a SEVEN YEAR OLD, keep in mind there is no reason I should feel this way and I have no abusive childhood to blame. I still feel this way, but now it’s less directed toward fantasy fictional characters and more real people around me, and I still feel like a weak worthless person inside with no sense of self and I keep comparing myself to people because I want to become more powerful and defeat and get the best of them and whenever I feel like I don’t measure up I get really anxious and my whole body feels bad. I have no reason to be this neurotic because there isn’t a diagnosable mental illness I can have and I cant think back to any past trauma that might have caused it but its driving me crazy and I feel like this has to stop now because its so frivolous and ridiculous. I felt like if I told anyone about this they would just laugh at me but now I really need advice because I think its like, clinical.

Pathological Envy of Power

Answered by on -


Thank you for asking this. The fact that you are noticing whom you’re choosing as role models — and your thinking and feeling behind their choice is very good. It is an indication that there is an observing ego, or self monitor, which is witnessing what you doing. It is this part of us that gives us a choice. The fact that you’re noticing what you’re doing and feeling distressed about means that the observing part of you is functioning very well. It gives you the power of choice in what you do. It can help you answer the question: How would you like to be?

It seems like the first order of business would be in choosing different and better, more aligned role models. You may want to ask yourself: Who is happy with their life? Look for people that you feel happy when you’re with them, and if you’re choosing characters from literature choose those who strengthens you admire.

Pathological Envy of Power

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Pathological Envy of Power. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 11 Nov 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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