There are several psychiatric syndromes with some, well, intriguing names. Today, I’d like to comment on Othello Syndrome.
Aptly named after Shakespeare’s Othello (where Othello murders his wife because he believed she cheated on him), Othello Syndrome is a delusional (fixed, false belief) disorder whereby the sufferer believes their spouse or partner is being unfaithful. Often times, there is little to no evidence to substantiate this belief.
It can be associated with other mental illness such as, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, sexual dysfunction, and other neurological illnesses. It can also be associated with stalking (which can include multiple “interrogations” of the partner, repeated phone calls to work, surprise visits, and hiring a PI to follow the partner) and, at times, violence (either in the form of suicide attempts to harm toward others).
Different theories have arisen regarding the cause of this disorder. Some believe it is morbid jealousy whereby the sufferer’s memories are subconsciously changed and their partner’s actions are misinterpreted. Or, those with an “insecure attachment style” may be fearful and extremely anxious about their partner’s commitment.
Treatment includes anti-psychotic medications for the delusions as well as anti-depressant medications if there’s associated depression or anxiety. It is also important for the sufferer to engage in psychotherapy.
What examples of Othello Syndrome have you seen in the books you’ve read?
Remember, these posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical or psychiatric advice or treatment.