WOW | Mental Health

MORBID JEALOUSY

Jealousy is a complicated and common emotion experienced by humans.

Morbid Jealousy, also known as “Othello Syndrome” or delusional jealousy or pathological jealousy is a psychological disorder in which a person wrongly believes that their spouse or sexual partner is being unfaithful without having any real proof to back their claim.

In morbid jealousy, the person is preoccupied with a partner’s sexual infidelity.

Symptoms of morbid jealousy include

  • Accusing partner of looking or giving attention to other people
  • Questioning of the partner’s behaviour
  • Interrogation of phone calls, including wrong numbers or accidental phone calls and all other forms of communication
  • Going through the partner’s belongings.
  • Always asking where the partner is and whom they are with
  • Isolating partner from their family and friends
  • Not letting the partner have personnel interests or hobbies outside the house
  • Controlling the partner’s social circle
  • Claiming the partner is having an affair when they withdraw or tries to escape abuse
  • Lack of trust
  • Verbal and or physical violence towards the partner
  • Blaming the partner and establishing an excuse for jealous behaviour
  • Threatening to harm others or self

This disorder occurs when a person typically makes repeated accusations that their spouse or sexual partner is being unfaithful. This is based on insignificant, minimal or no evidences, often citing seemingly normal or everyday events or materials to back up their claim.

It can be found in the context of schizophrenia and delusional disorder such as bipolar disorder, but is also associated with alcoholism and sexual dysfunction and has been reported after some neurological illness.

Forms of the disorder

Obsessions: Jealous thoughts are experienced as intrusive and excessive, and compulsive behaviour such as checking up on their partner may follow.

Extreme obsessions

Much time is taken up by jealous concerns, and there is a great difficulty in putting these concerns out of the mind. Impairment of the relationship, limitation of the partner’s freedom, and checking on the partner’s behaviour may occur.

Delusions 

The individuals own thoughts are egosyntotic, they are regarded as true and not resisted.

Causes

The exact cause of morbid jealousy is unknown till now. Various factors especially psychological and environmental factors as well as personality type has a significant role.

Management

Morbid jealousy encompasses various psychiatric states and the best way to approach treatment depends on the symptoms that are observed in the individual. There are medical, psychological and social methods of management in dealing with morbid jealousy.

  • Risks associated with morbid jealousy
  • Confronting behaviours
  • Risk to self
  • Risk to spouse/ others
  • Risk to children

Dr. Ajit Kumar Gurung, MD; DPM has been working as a consultant psychiatrist since the last 16 years. He is Psychiatrist Consultant at Norvic International Hospital; Head of Department and Senior Consultant Psychiatrist at Department of Psychiatry, Nepal Police Hospital; and Consultant for Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centre ‘Ashara’.