yes, therapy helps!
Rebecca syndrome: symptoms, causes and treatment

Rebecca syndrome: symptoms, causes and treatment

April 21, 2024

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for most of the population to have more than one sentimental partner throughout their lives, estimating an average of at least seven couples as little sexual throughout their lives.

In this context, then, it is usual that when most people are paired, one or both members have had other romantic and amorous experiences before.

In some cases, one of the members may fear losing out in a comparison with the other people who have gone through the life of their partner, and jealousy may turn out to be pathological and seriously damage the health of the person. the relationship. It's about Rebecca Syndrome .

  • Related article: "Celotipia: pathological jealousy disorder"

What is Rebecca Syndrome?

Receives the name of Rebecca Syndrome a condition or situation of pathological characteristics that is characterized by the existence of a high level of jealousy on the part of one of the components of the couple towards the previous spouses or sexual partners of their spouse or current couple. It is a syndrome that enjoys a certain popularity and is based on retrospective jealousy (that is, jealousy directed towards a person or a type of relationship from the past), although it is not a disorder included in the main manuals of diagnostic classifications. .

This situation is pathological when it becomes a recurrent and obsessive subject without there being a real reason for the existence of jealousy, being able to go back to the type of union or relationship that the couple of the sufferer had with an ex that may not have never known and that has no relationship at the moment or that relationship is not romantic.

Sometimes the Rebecca Syndrome can lead to the existence of persecutory behavior towards the ex-partner or to the attempt to control all the social interactions of the or the sentimental partner, being usual that this generates serious conflicts in the current relation or imbalances in the relations of power. It can also happen that the affected person tries to show extreme complacency or superiority to the ex-partner, exercising a kind of unilateral competition that can also be aversive for the partner or sentimental partner and seriously affect the self-esteem of both.

This condition is aggravated if the previous relationship of the couple is seen or remembered (either by the couple or by the environment) in an extremely positive way, as someone virtuous, attractive, sensual and passionate or intelligent, especially if those qualities are not appreciated by the person with the syndrome in his own person. The person of whom you have jealousy does not have to be a recent couple, can go back to the first love of the partner sentimental or even be a person already deceased.

The origin of its denomination

The name of Rebeca Syndrome was coined by the writer Carmen Posadas in her book Rebecca's syndrome: guide to conjure ghosts, which has recently been reissued. The concept comes from Hitchcock's film based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier , Rebeca, in which a widower Mr. Winter is widowed of his first wife and at the time he marries a second one, which must face the ghosts and memories of his predecessor (which appears trying to make his widower separate from his new partner ) in an environment that constantly reminds her.

Keep in mind that although the syndrome at the psychological level is usually defined as the pathological jealousy of a person towards the ex of his sentimental partner , in the publication of Carmen Posadas, this syndrome would not be limited to it but also include cases in which the same person searches for a new partner a faithful reflection of a previous couple (repeating the same relational pattern and looking for someone who can even to be physically similar) or, on the contrary, to look for a type of couple that is totally opposite to the previous ones.


The causes of this particular syndrome are not particularly known, being something multi-causal, although in general this type of celotipia is usually linked to the presence of insecurity in the couple and low self-esteem and self-concept on the part of the affected person. The new couple may feel that the previous one is superior to her or him, Wanting to compete and overcome your memory , or else you have never had the same kind of relationship or experience as you had previously.

Likewise, it can also be propitiated in relationships in which the couple or the environment of the latter often remembers the partner in question, or even in those relationships in which a direct comparison between their relationships is actually exercised (this comparison being in the spirit of making harm or not).It can also be facilitated when the person discovers that he has exactly the same personality and / or physical pattern that ex- pands her, being able to feel a substitute more than valued per se.

Eventually it can occur in couples in which one of its members has recently widowed before joining their current partner, or has not overcome the loss and memories. While grief is normal, in some insecure people it can be seen as a reflection that they do not have such a deep love relationship with the affected one


Coping with Rebecca Syndrome can be difficult and have serious repercussions for the health of the couple's relationship. In order to treat it, it may be necessary an intervention both at a couple and individual level in the case of the affected person .

In the first case, it is recommended to encourage communication regarding the current relationship, work on possible dissatisfaction that may exist in it, and to see and value both the positive aspects of it and why they are together. It will also have to assess whether we are dealing with a comparison made by the person with the Syndrome unilaterally or if it is their sentimental partner, the environment or the ex-partner who actively generates (since it is also possible) the comparison.

It also has to take into account do not emphasize the characteristics of past relationships nor to detail them to a great extent since it can facilitate comparisons, and especially if there are aspects that are unsatisfactory in the current one. It is not about denying previous relationships, simply not going into too much detail in them.

But undoubtedly the most important thing will be the work at the individual level. It will be necessary to work on self-esteem and self-concept, which means the couple for the person with the syndrome and why they consider that they are jealous of their previous relationships. It is also necessary to talk about the consequences and difficulties generated by the couple's jealous situation.

On the other hand the presence of controlling and persecutory attitudes can be assessed and worked on , in addition to restructuring the beliefs that the subject may have on his person, his partner and the ex-partners of this (especially if they are presented as idealized).

Bibliographic references:

  • Posadas, C. (2014). The Rebecca syndrome. Guide to conjure loving ghosts. Editorial Planet.

INSIDE/OUT: My Battle With IBD (Full Documentary) | Rebecca Zamolo (April 2024).

Similar Articles