Othello Syndrome – Uncontrollable And Pathological Jealousy

Othello syndrome - uncontrollable and pathological jealousy

Jealousy is pretty common in romantic relationships. The problem is when it becomes uncontrollable, constant and unhealthy. When this happens, jealousy ceases to be a concern and becomes a real problem leading to the so-called Othello Syndrome.

This syndrome gets its name from the Shakespeare play “Othello”. Psychologists also refer to it as crazy jealousy. In the play, the main character, Othello, becomes extremely suspicious of his wife, Desdemonas, suspected infidelity. He is so convinced of his own theories that he murders her and then commits suicide.

Like Othello, there are people who fall into these vicious and obsessed cycles of suspicion and distrust of their partners. There is no fact or motivation for it, other than their own imagination. People like this tend to suffer from Othello syndrome. Below we will take a closer look at the characteristics, possible causes and treatment of the syndrome.

Characteristics of Othello syndrome

According to DSM-5 , Othello Syndrome is a misleading type of jealousy disorder. This means that the basic axis of the disease is pathological or extreme envy that supports the idea of ​​a partner’s infidelity.

A person suffering from Othello syndrome behaves in a completely irrational way. In other words, the individual sees what they want to see, without considering whether or not there is evidence of their beliefs. Their biggest concern in the relationship is to carefully search for evidence that shows their partner’s infidelity. They will check their partner’s cell phone and computer and constantly ask them about their routine. Their delusions may even lead them to believe that their partner has changed their habits when they became unfaithful.

Couples discuss content over the phone due to othello syndrome

Othello syndrome is a condition that can have serious consequences due to the uncontrollable and irrational jealousy that catches the victims. In some cases, the individual feels that they are the victim of a conspiracy and feel betrayed by their partner.

Other people may also play a role in encouraging jealousy. This is the case with Iago in the play, and today it is often the case with various means of communication. Everything that confirms the individual’s suspicions becomes important.

Here are some aspects of the condition that can help identify if a person is suffering from this syndrome:

  • Constant interrogation and checking of the partner’s habits.
  • The sudden suspicion that there is another person without any kind of evidence.
  • Inability to control jealousy, due to lack of awareness.
  • Inability to control impulses.
  • Constant search for explanations that justify suspicions and misinterpretations of the better half’s behavior.

Causes of Othello syndrome

To date, there are no studies that fully explain the cause of this syndrome. However, there are many factors that affect the development of the condition. Some of them are alcoholism, schizophrenia or addiction.

Other studies link Othello syndrome to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Some experts believe that there is a link between the syndrome and brain damage. What this means is that the cause of the syndrome may be physiological.

It’s not just about behavior. There is also an emotional component associated with self-esteem that we should not forget. Researchers still have a lot of work to do to fully understand the causes of this syndrome.

What is the treatment for pathological jealousy?

Treatment for pathological jealousy is possible with professional help. With help, the individual can learn to control their jealousy and restore their personal serenity. In addition, they can even restore harmony in their relationship. To do this, it is important to evaluate the patient completely, to find out the cause of their jealousy. It is also important to identify the degree of their condition and the consequences it has on their lives.

Sad woman gets help due to othello syndrome

The most successful and utilized therapy for Othello syndrome is cognitive behavioral therapy. On the one hand, psychologists use behavioral techniques such as exposure and response prevention, and on the other hand, they use cognitive restructuring. That said, for extreme cases, experts also recommend antipsychotic medication, for impulse control.

Family and couple therapy are also important. This is because jealousy is sometimes related to the life story of the person affected by Othello syndrome.

As you can see, Othello syndrome is a disorder that can have serious consequences. As a result, it should be treated as soon as it is detected and the individual should seek the help of a specialist.

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