Extreme Envy
Dr. Phil talks to a woman whose jealous rages are threatening her marriage.
"Jealousy is destroying me," says Jennifer, who lives in fear that her husband, Michael, will be attracted to other women. "I think men are horrible. I don't trust them at all," she says. "When I see Michael looking at an attractive woman, it makes me insane. I want to hurt him."

She rips pictures of models out of his magazines and gets upset if he sees a Victoria's Secret commercial on TV. "I would be very happy if he would look on the ground for the rest of his life and never look up," she says. "I don't like that I can't control his mind. I don't like that he can think anything he wants."

When Jennifer flies into a jealous rage, she bites, slaps, kicks and throws things at Michael. "One evening, in a really bad fight, I got in my car and I started chasing him with it. He was very afraid that I was going to run him over," she admits.

Jennifer fears that her rage is escalating. "The worst thing that could happen is I could end up in jail, Michael could end up in the hospital, my children could end up becoming violent," she says. "If my husband leaves me, that is going to destroy my life." Turning to Dr. Phil, she says, "My life is miserable. I cannot function as a human being."
"You wish you could control what he thinks, what he does, know where he is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You would just want that much control?" Dr. Phil questions Jennifer.

She responds, "If I could control his mind, it would be me that he's thinking of, nobody else."

Addressing Michael, Dr. Phil asks, "Is this driving you crazy?"

"Yes, it is. The fact that we've made it this far is saying a lot," Michael admits. "I'm not giving up on her, but there's been times that I've almost walked out because she doesn't trust me no matter what I do."

Dr. Phil points out that Jennifer must struggle with low self-esteem. "What is it you know about you that is so horrible that you would have to be able to control his mind to make him think of you, make him love you, make him want you?" he asks.

"I don't look the way I did when I was younger. I've become very overweight. I've become unattractive," Jennifer says.
When Jennifer tries to explain that she's been trying to lose weight, Dr. Phil says, "Do you really believe that if you lost weight, got in shape ... that this would just go away?"

"No. I know that I've probably been jealous since I can remember. I know that I've gotten worse," Jennifer admits. She tells Dr. Phil that her parental legacy contributes to the problem. "My mother was in a horrible relationship. I saw the way my stepfather treated her. Then as that happened, my mom died. I was with my dad. He didn't give me very much attention, and it just kept going."

Dr. Phil notes that Jennifer has been cheated on in past relationships and has also cheated on her lovers. "So you're saying, 'This has happened to me before. I've been burned, so now I have to maintain this hypervigilant state in order to control this.' Do you really think you can control him that much?" he questions.

"He's going to think what he wants to think. But if I don't say anything, then he's going to have the OK to do whatever he wants," she explains. "As long as he knows that it's bothering me, maybe he'll be more careful of the things he does."
Dr. Phil wants Jennifer to understand the consequences of her behavior. "Don't you realize if you keep this up, that you will drive him away? You keep this up, an ugly girl will get him," he says, as the audience laughs. To Michael, he asks, "Wouldn't it get to the point where you'd rather be with just anybody than somebody that hounded you or pecked at you?"

"When it gets bad, I'd rather be anywhere," Michael admits.

Dr. Phil suggests that reassuring Jennifer is not the answer because no amount would be enough. "You teach people how to treat you. You reassure her a lot and try to make her feel better. It's like spitting in the ocean. You're trying to fill a bottomless pit," Dr. Phil tells him. "You need to stop feeding the monster. You need to stop looking away when a pretty girl comes on television. You need to stop giving her reassurance. What you're doing is just giving her a fix."
Dr. Phil explains that Jennifer gets a payoff from her destructive behavior and Michael's response to it. "She's testing you: 'Can I run him off? Does he not really love me anymore? Am I so hideous that he can't even look at me? I'm pushing, pushing, pushing to test him.' People who are low in self-esteem — jealous, envious, highly dependent — we always think about those people as being very weak and very needy. But the truth is, people who behave in this way are tyrannical, power-seeking, controlling, demanding people," Dr. Phil says. "It's just like power gone mad."

When Jennifer tries to explain that she doesn't want to control Michael, just keep him from looking at and thinking about other women, Dr. Phil interjects, "So it's only that one thing everywhere he goes, 24 hours a day. You can't continue to do that."

This has nothing to do with Michael; it's about Jennifer's internal dialogue. "What's happened is you've been programmed. You've seen men cheat on you before. You've seen all of this abuse. You've seen all these bad things that devalued you. And you've taken over for them. They're not here to say those things to you anymore, but you say it for them," Dr. Phil says. She can also take steps to improve her internal responses.
Dr. Phil suggests that Jennifer write down her internal dialogue and then challenge everything she says to herself. She can't control her husband, but she can start looking inward.

"He is going to leave you if you don't change this behavior. That's my prediction," Dr. Phil comments. "What has to happen to change that is you've got to get over your anxiety. You're very anxious about life and about yourself, and that is coming totally from your internal dialogue. It's not rational ... The problem is, you don't accept yourself. You're thinking, 'Nobody could possibly want me.' So your war is not with him. Your war is with you. Forget about him. You've got to start working on your relationship with you."