Otelo syndrome: causes, symptoms and treatment

Otelo syndrome, also called monosymptomatic delusional jealousy, Takes its name from the William Shakespeare drama “Othello, the Moor of Venice”, where the character constructs a myriad of suspicions about his partner’s alleged infidelity to murder and commit suicide.

This story describes how obsession and stubbornness drastically destroys the ability to assess reality to the point where other people are hurt. Below we will look at the characteristics of this delusional disorder.

    pathological jealousy

    Steve Wood is a newlywed in his thirties. Every time he returns home, he goes through the same ritual. His wife, Debbie, waits suspiciously on the living room couch with an electronic device in her hand. Without changing or showing any sign of opposition, he undergoes the same process on a daily basis: his wife pretends to be a lie detector.

    She is “the most jealous woman in the world,” says Debbie Wood herself, who married Steve Wood just over a year ago. This is just one of the many manifestations of Otelo syndrome, a delusional disorder based on jealousy.

    This disease is characterized by totally irrational behavior. What does it mean? This jealousy they go beyond the real explanation or reason.

    It doesn’t matter the tests or the logic. People with Otelo syndrome see what they want (or rather don’t want) to see. Usually, the excitement leads him to detect patterns in his partner’s behavior that lead him to think about a change in his habits.

    Some suffer because they feel cheated and unable to prove it, Since in the vast majority of cases these are irrational perceptions and totally out of context. The person with Otelo syndrome assumes that they are the victim of a conspiracy and feel betrayed by their romantic partner or by other people who somehow believe they belong to them.

    Symptoms of Otelo syndrome

    When we talk about Otelo syndrome, patients who suffer from it usually speak of “the other”, without having a defined face or clear features. It is “a ghost”, an indefinite shadow with which the illusion is recreated over and over again without any real clue or clear source of information.

    The manifestation of symptoms it can trigger small variations in daily life or habits: changing clothes from one drawer to another, buying another brand of food, or delaying the usual arrival time by a few minutes. All of this releases delusional thoughts and jealousy begins to surface.

    Unfortunately, Othello syndrome often ends in gender-based violence or even homicide. Therefore, at the first signs, it is advisable to do business with a professional.

    How to recognize Othello syndrome?

    Some aspects that characterize Otelo syndrome are the following:

    • Incorporation of an imaginary third party into the relationship.
    • The subject does not know how to control his jealousy because he is not aware of his problem.
    • He is constantly alert and vigilant with his partner’s habits.
    • Misperception of the couple’s daily events, linked to jealousy. They are always looking for the justification of a situation of deception.
    • Impossibility of controlling the impulses, the thoughts, the false perceptions which are essential.

    The causes of this delirium

    Otelo syndrome is a reality, the causes are a mixture of biological and cultural aspects that reinforce the importance of possessive love and based on strong exclusivity. In fact, the pathological jealousy of people with Otelo syndrome fits very well with the role of the dominant person watching over their romantic partner and potential competitors.

    However, when it comes to the genetic and biochemical causes present in the brains of those who experience this type of delirium, we still do not have much information on this phenomenon. There is little evidence for physiological reasons behind this disorder, but it is not exclusively a question of internalized behavior and customary habits, at least according to the evidence. According to the latest research, jealousy has an emotional component based on self-esteem.

    On the other hand, oddly enough, this phenomenon also occurs in different mammals, where the word “self-esteem” is no longer relevant. if we were to give a biological explanation for jealousy, it would probably be a consequence of what happens when the pursuit of family or offspring conservation is taken to extremes, added to fear of loss.


    Psychotherapy must address the behavior of the patient and help situate reality beyond their false beliefs about their partner’s infidelity. This process can be hampered when the patient is unaware of their illness or accepts the possibility of suffering from the syndrome.

    In some specific cases, antipsychotic medications can help regain impulse control. However, Othello syndrome is a very complex condition that requires personal therapy. more than just drug use, Which in any case must be consumed under medical indication and supervision

    Also, when treating extremely suspicious patients, it is recommended to monitor a relative for treatment inclination, as they often do not do it correctly or as the psychologist recommends. Very few patients voluntarily come to the consultation or wish to undergo treatment. The vast majority seek to save the damaged relationship with the couple.

    Leave a Comment