Pathological Jealousy-Othello Syndrome

Today, the phenomenon of jealousy that almost everybody has, is the fact that most people do not want to share the person they love with anyone; In fact, it often emerges as a situation that emerges by hiding behind “loving a lot” in a simpler expression. Of course, it is normal, to a certain extent, for a person to be wary of the person he loves, not wanting to share with anyone, and briefly being jealous, due to his nature. However, this situation can turn into a dangerous situation that can lead to excessive reaction, restriction, and even the situation of going too far that can threaten the life of the person. At this point, the dangerous situation mentioned can turn into a disease that is called pathological jealousy or Othello syndrome in psychology, which can cause serious consequences if the step is not taken at the point of precaution / treatment.

Before going into the details of the disease, it will be healthier to give information about the name in order to be able to master the content.

Othello, one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, also inspired the name of the syndrome. The protagonists of the game Othello and his wife Desdemona are a passionate couple who are in love with each other. The relationship of the couple, who loves each other very much, is damaged by an unexpected event one day. Desdemona lost the handkerchief, the first gift Othello gave her. This situation makes Othello suspicious because this handkerchief is a very important gift and he cannot accept his wife losing it. Meanwhile, Iago, who was grudging about the problem he had with Othello and somehow took over the handkerchief, sees this as an opportunity and creates a treacherous plan and pretends to have a relationship with Desdemona’s person named Cassio, causing Othello to suspect. Othello kills Cassio and his wife Desdemona with a gnawing feeling of jealousy and deceit. Later, it is revealed that this treacherous plan was made by Iago, and Othello cannot bear it and kills himself. The end of Iago, whose treacherous plans are revealed, would be to be executed.


The work, which gives its name to the psychological syndrome, basically reveals how dangerous jealousy hiding behind the concept of ownership and love can actually be in advanced dimensions; It clearly shows that it can even cause a crisis that can lead to the deprivation of the person’s right to life. Jealousy, which is accepted as normal in daily life and even makes the opposite sex feel loved and owned, was examined for the first time in a comprehensive article published by British psychiatrist John Todd (1914-1987) and was named Othello syndrome. The syndrome can arise not only in the sense of ownership and inability to share in bilateral relations, but also against the values ​​of other individuals. “I don’t have anybody else!” or “I have no one else” style sentences can become a person’s life view. The disease that causes obsession, paranoia and delusions in later stages is also called morbid jealousy and sexual jealousy.

Causes of the disease

Of course, it should not be absolutely correct to give an exact cause for a psychological illness. As emphasized by humanist urams, human beings are one and only. Therefore, the delusions they will be exposed to throughout their life are basically evaluated on the basis of the individual’s personal experiences, traumas and deprivations. However, Othello syndrome has a number of specific, distinctive causes and symptoms that we will mention later in the article.

– Addictions: Alcohol and drug addiction can present an infrastructure as a cause for a person’s syndrome, as it reduces unrealistic doubts or obsessions to a much more concrete and obsessive level. By creating an illusion-like situation, they take the obsessions and doubts of the person for sure and pass the suspicion stage and come to the stage of searching for evidence. Moreover, such addictions, which damage the nervous system, can increase the severity of the damage caused by the disease, when the person acts without thinking about the consequences of his decisions, so to speak, by obscuring them.

Neurological lesions: As a result of a physiological damage that may occur in the right frontal lobe system in the brain, the individual may not be able to analyze the signals coming from the left lobe accurately. As a result, the individual is able to make uncontrolled decisions and develop obsessions by disabling logic in his controlled (voluntary) actions and emotions that are not based on a realistic basis.

– Neurodegenerative diseases: There are studies in the literature showing that the syndrome can be seen when the individual has Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s-derived neurodegenerative disorders. It was also observed that the rate of reaching the disease is much higher when obsessions and delusions are included in the circle in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoia-derived psychological diseases, together with neural damage and the previously mentioned neurophysiological lesions.

– Insecurity and fear: These two emotions, which can be seen as a result of the disease, can also increase in stages and form the causes of the disease. The high level of insecurity and fear of loss that the individual has as a result of his personal experiences begins to doubt every action and emotional state. Especially in bilateral relations, these reasons, which can lead to restriction, violence and even taking away the right to life of the individual, are increasing gradually.

Of course, although the disease has symptoms other than the basic perspectives given, it is not possible to put forward a definite and clear reason for the pathological jealousy that takes place in the psychology literature; therefore, perspectives are developed.

Treatment Methods

The syndrome, which can cause very serious and dangerous situations such as violence, murder, and suicide, must be evaluated by a specialist psychiatrist. At this point, the psychiatrist’s evaluation is very important in determining the appropriate treatment method. After the specialist determines which traumatic experiences or triggers of the individual are in the depths of the syndrome, different therapy methods such as drug individual therapy, couple therapy, breathing exercises, bibliography are tried to ensure the person’s inner peace and not to be violent.

In line with the tests performed by the specialist, as soon as the person is diagnosed with Othello syndrome, the treatment is started with the appropriate therapy method. Duration of treatment is determined by the specialist; However, rather than a treatment that can give results in a short time, after the patient accepts himself and his surroundings and does not show a tendency to violence, support can be provided with additional treatments. In the literature, this syndrome is mostly viewed with a cognitive approach. It is tried to ensure that the person’s mental balance is ensured and efforts are made to achieve a cognitive restructuring in this direction. The preferred cognitive therapy methods are supported by exposure or some behavioral methods in a reactive and precautionary manner, and it is aimed to get rid of the delusions of the patient by catching the mental balance and attaining inner peace.

In the advanced stages, in cases where the disease has a more severe course, support can be provided with some medications. It is aimed to facilitate the patient’s coping process with antipsychotic and antidepressant-style drugs to be used. The patient behaving as a regular and responsible individual during both the therapy phase and the medication use phase Stability in this regard is very important in terms of the course of treatment. In this way, the process of ensuring the mental and physical balance of the person can be much more functional and the results can become much more permanent.

The phenomenon of jealousy, which has become quite normal in society and the person is exposed to by the other party, should not be seen as a way of being loved and owned, and its symptoms and its reflection in daily practices should be analyzed by the other party in a correct and objective manner. After a certain stage, when obsessions and doubts begin to limit the freedom of the other party and cause physical, sexual and psychological damages to their bodily rights, it becomes very dangerous for the individual to accept this. It is very important for the person exposed to such situations to immediately refer the exposed person to a specialist and to prevent dangers that can reach much more dangerous dimensions by taking the right treatment.


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