When we love someone, we would like that person to be with us, for their presence to be a more or less constant part of our life and to make them happy to the fullest. The thought of losing a loved one can be difficult and difficult to come to terms with, Feeling something that causes us discomfort, anxiety and fear. Sometimes that fear turns into fear that someone will take it from us.
In some people, this desire to maintain the relationship with the loved one can turn into possessivenessConstantly fearing that they will leave them for another person and believing on the basis of this fear that the couple will cheat on them with another or other people. And within this group of people there are some in which the beliefs that are deceived with other people are given in a persistent and rigid way, these beliefs appearing even though there is evidence to the contrary and can cause harm. serious problems in the relationship, controlling behavior and even violence towards the loved one or his potential lovers.
We are talking about people with a cellotype, a subtype of delusional disorder.
Jealousy and celotypy
Being jealous of someone is relatively common. Jealousy is a negative emotional state (i.e. problematic and maladjusted) that arises from the thought of losing a loved one, someone taking away a property, situation or relationship that we have and want to maintain. we.
However, while wanting to keep the object or loved one by our side makes sense, the presence of jealousy indicates a certain level of possessiveness which can even destroy the relationship itself existing between person and object or loved one, and which in addition can injure the latter and / or put him in a vulnerable situation. And it is that in many cases this situation occurs without there being a reason that can provoke jealousy, as for example in the disorder which this article deals with.
Otelo syndrome: a delusional cell-type disorder
Sexual jealousy or Otelo syndrome is a subtype of delusional disorder in which the person is convinced that his partner is unfaithful to him without any reason to justify it. It appears when faced with a seemingly trivial fact that the person interprets as suspicious and on which a belief system is built later, in search of and interpretation of the data that seems to support them.
These beliefs about possible infidelity often cause the person to have a high level of control over the couple’s activities, eavesdropping on their conversations and actions in an attempt to catch / confirm their suspicions. The information sought by the person is biased, making abnormal interpretations of the loved one’s responses, attitudes and ways of acting in front of other people so that normal stimuli are interpreted as confirmatory, ignoring evidence and information that they contradict the alleged infidelity. . In certain circumstances it is possible to attack the loved one or those who are interpreted as third parties.
Illusions are systematized, that is, even though there is no proof or reason that can provoke these thoughts, the ideas themselves exhibit a certain logic and internal consistency that makes them plausible. For this reason it can be complex to show that these are beliefs that are not limited to reality. In other words, if our partner can be faithful, it is not impossible for loved ones to cease to be so and / or to leave us for another person, which makes it difficult to see that the thought that he is unfaithful to us is unrealistic.
Thus, jealousy is not only a very intense experience of jealousy, but also involves a predisposition to develop delusional and therefore psychopathological thoughts. On the other hand, jealousy exacerbates the problematic aspects of jealousy when what is to be preserved is a person, such as the tendency to objectify this human being, seeing him as possessed good.
Who is most likely to suffer from these pathological jealousies?
According to the statistics used to analyze this disorder, the sex with the highest prevalence varies however this disorder is usually seen in consultation with people over the age of forty (Probably due to the fact that with age you lose attractiveness and skills, which leads to insecurity), although the fact that we are in a dynamic society with constant changes and relationships have become more variable and precarious, has manifested itself in younger and younger people.
Generally, people with celotypy often exhibit high insecurity, with a marked sense of inferiority and a view of the world that failures are often attributed to external, global, and stable variables, so relationship problems are considered as indicators that there is someone else.
Because of these doubts and insecurities, it is common for many of these people to consume large amounts of alcohol and other substances, which in turn worsens judgment and leads to greater cognitive bias.
The other side of the coin: the pair
The spouse may initially think that the manifestation of the jealousy person’s jealousy is an expression of love and even be interpreted as something positive, but with time and the repetition of suspicions and doubts, the situation quickly begins to become aversive.
Being constantly watched by the partner and the constant doubts of the person with the relationship disorder cause a high level of stress and frustration, and can even lead the couple to present with anxiety or depressive disorders. And it is that all these circumstances cause a high level of conflict with the couple, and the presence of unfounded accusations and a high level of dissatisfaction and suffering on the part of both are common.
Sometimes the persistence of the problem can even lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy situation, in which the weary subject of the situation decides to leave the relationship or make the suspicion of infidelity a reality.
Causes of pathological jealousy
The causes of jealousy can be very varied. The fact of having already experienced situations of infidelity generates a strong feeling of insecurity in some people and a tendency to consider that future couples can and should do the same.
It is also common to appear in people with unstructured families and parenting models where marital insecurity and infidelity are common. Sometimes these people have viewed the situation or their parents’ separation to be their fault (as in the case of children whose parents are divorced), or that the presence of cheating and infidelity is a common occurrence in relationships. .
In any case, family crises are known to accentuate any potential problems that can arise in this area, and jealousy is one of them. Uncertainty about what will happen and insecurity make you start to be more suspicious and jealousy grows stronger.
Celotypy of psychoanalysis
Some authors of psychoanalytic tendency they consider that the cause of this type of phenomenon is a weakening of oneself and its limits, Project parts of the personality onto other people, in this case the spouse. In this way, insecure and very sexual people would project their insecurity onto their partner, appearing the compulsive fear of having doubts about the relationship and looking for someone better. The feelings of inferiority of these patients, which they deem unimportant, are confronted through denial and projection.
Another possible explanation is that the delirium is due to an attempt to give a logical explanation for a seemingly strange perception, an explanation that reassures the person about the uncertainty caused by the perception. Thus, a normal fact is interpreted in an abnormal way, deriving this interpretation from a system of beliefs which is maintained over time even if it may be without foundation.
Treatment for a delusional disorder can be complex due to the large number of factors and agents to consider. In the case of the celotypic delusional disorder subtype some of the guidelines to be applied in the treatment are as follows.
1. Awareness and modification of dysfunctional beliefs
Dealing with this type of problem requires changing the patient’s dysfunctional beliefs, which is why cognitive behavioral treatment is typically used. The delusional issue should not be addressed directly, but should take a step-by-step approach and establish a relationship of trust that allows the patient to express their fears.
It is expected that, little by little, the patient becomes aware and verbalizes his fears about it and what it would mean for him the existence of an infidelity. So the patient himself gradually reflects on his beliefs, how he came to have them and the logic and consistency of his arguments.
We then showed the patient that his interpretation is only one of many possible interpretations, making him think about other options. Blaming yourself or the other person makes the situation worse, so the feelings that the situation causes need to be avoided and redirected. It has also been shown that relativizing and decastrophizing the presence of infidelity is of some use in some cases.
Likewise, it is necessary to show the patient that if his partner is with him it is because he values her and wants to be with him / her. It is also important to make sure that the person sees that it is logical and normal for other people to find the loved one attractive and that does not mean that they have to return the favor.
2. Exposure to the imagination and prevention of controlling behaviors
As we said, it is very common for people with Otelo syndrome to engage in a series of behaviors in order to control and ensure that their partner is loyal to them or not. These behaviors are reinforced by a conditioning process (checking that nothing reassures them temporarily, which causes subsequent checks that prevent anxiety). In these cases, it is necessary to make the patient able to tolerate uncertainty and anxiety.
for that one of the most effective treatments is exposure with prevention of the response. Thus, it is understood that the person imagines in a graduated manner situations in which the partner is unfaithful to him and masters the need to carry out checks in this regard. This exposure must be progressive and guided between the therapist and the patient, in order to make it tolerable and effective.
3. Couple therapy
It was previously mentioned that the persistence of the Celotypic attitude causes serious problems in the relationship, affecting and causing great suffering on both sides.
For this reason, it is recommended to perform couples therapy, find a space in which both people can express their doubts and feelings. Likewise, making both the jealous person and their partner see how the other person should be feeling can be helpful in better assessing the situation.
Such interventions are important because they approach the problem holistically, not focusing on individuals but on groups and relational dynamics. However, it should be noted that in most cases it is also necessary to attend psychotherapy sessions individually, Without the other member of the couple, work on specific aspects of emotion management and explore the person’s problematic psychological predispositions more in depth.
Encouraging communication is essential to improve the situation. and increasing mutual trust within the relationship is essential, making the celotypic see that his partner’s unfaithfulness is less likely than he thinks and the couple that the celotypic person’s attitude is due to a disorder that he is being treated and that he needs your help to overcome himself.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
- Belloch, Sandín and Ramos. (2008). Manual of psychopathology. Madrid. McGraw-Hill (vol. 1 and 2). Revised edition.
- Bevan, JL (2004). General couple and relational uncertainty resulting from the expression of jealousy of another person. Western Journal of Communication. 68 (2): 195 – 218.
- Burton, N. (2015). Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of Emotions. United Kingdom: Acheron Press.
- Mathes, E. (1991). A cognitive theory of jealousy. The psychology of jealousy and envy. New York: Guilford Press.
- Parrott, WG (1991). Emotional experiences of envy and jealousy, The psychology of jealousy and envy. Ed. P. Salovey. New York: Guilford.
- Reidl Martínez, LM (2005). Jealousy and envy: human emotions. National Autonomous University of Mexico.
- Shackelford, TK; Voracek, M .; Schmitt, DP; Buss, DM; Weekes-Shackelford, VA; Michalski, RL (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and later in life. Human nature. 15 (3): 283-300.