Othello Syndrome



Othello syndrome is named after the famous character in Shakespeare’s play who was characterized by extreme jealousy and permanent belief that the partner was unfaithful. It’s a rare mental condition that causes sufferers to be suspicious and jealous very easily. It’s pathological jealousy or calotype with serious consequences on a person’s mental health and daily functioning.

What are the causes of Othello syndrome?

1)Psychological vulnerability of the jealous personality

2)Emotional dependence

3)Fear of abandonment and personal insecurity

4)Excessive need for support

5)Family histories and over attachment

6)Triggering factors like generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive or paranoid disorder

7)Provoking factors like an alcohol & drug abuse

8)The delusional belief about alleged infidelity is present permanently, even when there is no evidence.

9)Being obsessively jealous of everything and everyone.

10)Creating unrealistic thoughts and believing in them.

11)Overreaction to a simple event.

12)Tendency to being extremely aggressive and violent.

Three central characteristics of pathological jealousy:

Absence of a real cause.

Strange nature of suspicions.

Excessive and irrational reaction.

The typical symptoms of Othello syndrome:

1)Hypervigilance and permanent alert: The idea of ​​deception is kept in mind all the time, and there is also a state of alarm to verify infidelity at any time.

2)Intrusive and controlling attitudes: they are manifested through a complete lack of respect for the spaces of the other person or their belongings. The mobile is controlled, and spontaneous visits are made to the workplace or their social gatherings.

3)Physical or verbal violence: This is done against the person accused of infidelity. There are insults, shouts, accusations, and attacks.

4)Cognitive biases: The biases lead to interpreting only that information that confirms what was already believed.

5)Permanent presence of negative emotions: such as anger, guilt, rage, and resentment.

6)Constantly accusing their partner of being unfaithful or giving other people too much attention, Invading their privacy, stalking them, Showing extreme jealousy, Inability to control impulses, finding “proof” that their partner is unfaithful even though there is no such evidence, Finding fault with their partner, Verbal and physical abuse

Treatment options for Othello syndrome?

People who suffer from pathological jealousy need psychological treatment to deal with delusions and paranoia about jealousy and infidelity.

Cognitive restructuring

1)Since there may be comorbidity with disorders such as generalized anxiety or obsessive-compulsive, cognitive psychotherapy is very useful.

2)To identify the core beliefs and the assumptions that are influencing them.

Work on managing emotions

While working with cases of calotype, it is also important to address the management of emotions to find more adaptive and healthy ways of expressing them.

Address self-esteem

Another important point is that people with calotype are insecure and dependent. They must work on themselves, to return to being the center of their own lives and not their partner. It should aim to recover interests and carry out activities individually.

Couple therapy

Othello Syndrome can be a very distressing disorder for the person suffering from it and also for their partner as well. It greatly impacts the couple’s quality of life and causes high tensions in the relationship, which is unhealthy for the long term.

Couples Therapy is a good form of treatment to go through together as the therapist may help to address not just the issue of jealousy but some underlying concerns as well.

For a long time, as part of the so-called romantic love myths, jealousy was considered to be a display of love and concern. This idea has contributed to justifying the attitudes of control and dominance over the couple and has laid the foundations for toxic and possessive relationships.

In today’s era, it is very important to raise awareness about what love is and is not. Only from mutual respect is it possible to build healthy, responsible, and equitable relationships. When there is violence, it is not love. If you find yourself in a toxic relationship and you don’t feel good in it anymore, but don’t know what to do, you can ask for help from a psychological counselor.

Psychotherapy and anti-psychiatric medications:

Psychotherapy has to deal with the patient’s behavior and help you locate reality beyond your false beliefs about your partner’s infidelity. This process can be hampered when the patient does not have any awareness of the disease or accept the possibility of suffering from the syndrome.

In some specific cases, antipsychotic drugs can help restore impulse control. However, Othello Syndrome is a very complex disease that requires personal therapy more than the mere consumption of medications, which in any case should be consumed under medical indication and monitoring.

In addition, since they are extremely distrustful patients, the supervision of a relative is recommended for adherence to the treatment, since they often do not carry it out properly or as the psychologist recommends. Very few patients voluntarily come for consultation or want to undergo treatment. The vast majority seek to rescue the damaged relationship with the couple.

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About the author

Dr.Nikita Pawar is a General Practitioner by profession and has completed her (MBBS PGDCR). She has previously worked in GMC Hospital Dubai & is currently attached to a hospital, corporate company and Clinics in Mumbai. She is passionate about medical article writing and always strives to maintain commitment towards achieving professional growth as she transitions from one phase of her career to the next.



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