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Othello syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment

Othello syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment

June 25, 2022

The Othello syndrome, which is also called monosymptomatic jealousy delirium , receives its name by the drama of William Shakespeare "Othello, the Moor of Venice", where the character is making endless suspicions about the supposed infidelity of his partner to kill and fall into suicide.

This story describes how obsession and obstinacy dramatically destroys the ability to evaluate reality until it reaches an extreme in which other people are harmed. Next we will see the characteristics of this delusional disorder.

  • Related article: "Sick jealousy: 10 common signs of extremely jealous people"

Pathological jealousy

Steve Wood is a newly married man who has already reached his thirties. Every time he arrives home, he undergoes the same ritual. His wife, Debbie, awaits him on the sofa in the living room with the look of distrust and an electronic device in his hand. Without blinking or showing any sign of opposition, submit to the same process on a daily basis: his wife makes him go through a lie detector .

We are "the most jealous woman in the world," says Debbie Wood, who married Steve Wood just a year ago. This is only one of the many manifestations of Othello syndrome, a delusional disorder based on jealousy .

This disease is characterized by totally irrational behavior. What does this mean? That jealousy they go beyond the explanation or real reason .

The tests and the logic do not matter. The one affected by the Othello syndrome sees what he wants (or does not want, rather) to see. Usually the illusion causes him to detect patterns in the behavior of his partner that lead him to think about a change of habits on his part.

There are those who suffer because they feel cheated and can not prove it , since in the vast majority of cases they are irrational perceptions and totally out of context. The person who experiences Othello's syndrome assumes that he is the victim of a conspiracy and feels betrayed by his sentimental partner or other individuals that he somehow believes belong to him.

Symptoms of Othello syndrome

When we talk about Othello Syndrome, normally the patients who suffer from it speak "of the other", without having a defined face or clear characteristics. It is "a ghost", an indefinite shadow with which the illusion recreates itself over and over again without there being any kind of real clue or a clear source of information.

The manifestation of symptoms It can be triggered by small variations in daily life or habits: changing clothes from one drawer to another, buying a different brand of food or delaying a few minutes at the usual time of arrival. All this unleashes the delirious thoughts and jealousy begins to surface.

Unfortunately, Othello syndrome ends numerous times in gender violence or even homicide. So that, At the first signs it is convenient to deal with a professional .

How to recognize the Othello Syndrome?

Some aspects that characterize the Othello syndrome They are the following:

  • Incorporation of an imaginary third party in the relationship.
  • The subject does not know how to control his jealousy because he is not aware of his problem.
  • He is constantly alert and vigilant with his partner's habits.
  • Erroneous perception of the couple's daily events, related to jealousy. Always seek justification a situation of deception.
  • Impossibility to control impulses, thoughts, false perceptions that are self imposed.

Causes of this delirium

The Othello syndrome is a reality whose causes are a mixture between biology and cultural aspects that enhance the importance of possessive love and based on strong exclusivity . In fact, the pathological jealousy experienced by people with Othello syndrome fit very well with the role of the dominant person who watches over their sentimental partner and potential competitors.

However, as regards the genetic and biochemical causes present in the brain of those who live this kind of delusions, we still do not have much information about this phenomenon. There is little evidence on physiological reasons behind this disorder, but it is not exclusively a matter of behavior and habits internalized because of the habit, at least according to the evidence. According to the latest research, jealousy has an emotional component based on self-esteem.

On the other hand, curiously, this phenomenon also happens between different mammalian animals, where the word "self-esteem" ceases to have relevance.if we had to give a biological explanation to jealousy, it would probably be a consequence of what happens when the search for the preservation of the family or offspring is taken to the extreme, added to the fear of loss .


Psychotherapy has to face 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 has no awareness of their disease or accept the possibility of suffering from the syndrome.

In some specific cases, antipsychotic drugs can help recovery from impulse control. However, Othello syndrome is a very complex disease and personal therapy is needed more than the mere consumption of medications , which in any case must be consumed under medical indication and monitoring.

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

What is Othello Syndrome? - Dr. Sulata Shenoy (June 2022).

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