BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1592
  1. Louis Appleby, professor of psychiatrya
  1. a Withington Hospital, Manchester M20 8LR

    Envy is different from the other six deadly sins. It is, unless I am much mistaken, the only one that does not have an enjoyable side. It is all resentment, ill will, and sour grapes. Sometimes the word is used in a way that implies admiration as in “the NHS is the envy of the world”—a common phrase when I was a medical student but one that no longer rings true. In any case, this would be more accurately described as coveting. Envy, did you say? Keep going past coveting and stop just before you reach begrudging.

    But, like the other six, envy is a state of mind: it does not require you to do anything. This strikes me as extraordinary, …

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