Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart surprised people when she told Net-a-Porter magazine that Gwyneth Paltrow “just needs to be quiet. She’s a movie star. If she were confident in her acting, she wouldn’t be trying to be Martha Stewart.” Stewart was talking about Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop–which before Stewart’s comments few had seen as a real competitor for the Martha empire. But somehow Goop got under Stewart’s skin. Maybe it’s the name–it’s hard to hear Martha saying Goop. Or maybe Stewart noticed Paltrow making moves, which recently included hiring a new Goop CEO, Lisa Gersh, who used to be CEO of a little concern called Martha Stewart Living. (But Gersh lost that job in late 2012, after less than a year, when Martha Stewart was bleeding employees and money.)
So why pick on Gwyneth and Goop, truly just an upstart in Martha’s world? After all, Martha, you let Gwyneth’s new CEO go–how good could she be? Psychiatrists would say Stewart is suffering from a textbook case of envy, which Kant defined as a “propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one’s own.” The Psychiatric Times notes a “malignant narcissism” is one in which the “envied or hatefully envied person possesses qualities that are highly desirable or good.” Hey, Martha Stewart actually likes what Gwyneth is doing! Sees herself in it–her younger self, perhaps. (Stewart was once a fashion model, so the “acting” comment is even more telling.) Envy is thought to be the most shameful of the seven deadly sins (with lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, and pride)–and the only one that is no fun at all. Envy is also known to terrify those who are envious–to scare them into saying things that damages themselves.