Rebecca syndrome: symptoms, causes and treatment

It is not uncommon today for the majority of the population to have had more than one romantic partner in their lifetime, estimating on average at least seven sexual partners in their lifetime.

Against this background, it is therefore common that when most people mate, one or two members have had other romantic and romantic experiences before.

In some cases, one of the members may be afraid of losing to other people who have gone through their partner’s life, and may develop jealousy which can become pathological and seriously affect the health of the relationship. It’s Rebecca syndrome.

    What is Rebecca Syndrome?

    It is called Rebeca’s syndrome a condition or situation of pathological features which is characterized by the existence of a high level of jealousy of one of the members of the couple towards the former sentimental or sexual partners of his spouse the current couple. It is a syndrome that enjoys some popularity and is based on retrospective jealousy (that is, jealousy directed at a person or type of relationship in the past), although it does not occur. not act of a disorder noted by the directors.

    This situation is pathological when it becomes a recurring, obsessive problem with no real reason for jealousy to exist, and can be attributed to the type of union or bond that the couple who suffered from it had with an ex that you didn’t. may have never met and currently have no relationship or this relationship is not romantic.

    Sometimes Rebecca syndrome this can lead to the existence of persecutory behavior towards the ex-partner or in an attempt to control all the social interactions of the romantic partner, it is common for this to generate serious conflicts in the current relationship or imbalances in power relations. It can also happen that the affected person tries to be extremely complacent or superior to the ex-partner, exerting a kind of one-sided competition which can also be aversive to the sentimental partner and seriously affect the self-esteem of both.

    This condition is aggravated if the couple’s previous relationship is seen or remembered (either by the couple or by the environment) in an extremely positive way, as a virtuous, attractive, sensual and passionate or intelligent person, especially if these qualities are not. not appreciated. by the person with the syndrome in his own person. The person they were jealous of doesn’t have to be a recent couple, be able to return to the romantic partner’s first love, or even be a deceased person.

    The origin of its name

    The name Rebecca Syndrome was coined by writer Carmen Posadas in her recently republished book The Rebecca Syndrome: A Guide to Spell Ghosts. The concept comes from Hitchcock’s film based on Daphné du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca, in which a widower Mr. Winter is widowed by his first wife and will marry a second, who will have to deal with the ghosts and memories of his predecessor (who appears to be trying to separate his widower from his new partner) in an environment that constantly reminds him.

    It should be noted that although the syndrome at the psychological level is generally defined as the pathological jealousy of a person towards the ex of his romantic partner, In Carmen Posadas’ post, this syndrome would not be limited to that but also includes cases in which the same person seeks in a new partner the faithful reflection of a previous couple (repeating the same pattern of relationship and seeking someone one to whom she may even be physically similar) or on the contrary looking for a type of partner totally opposed to the previous ones.

    the causes

    The causes of this particular syndrome are not particularly known, being somewhat multicausal, although in general this type of cellotype is generally related to the presence of insecurity in the couple and to low self-esteem and low esteem. on the part of the affected person. The new couple may feel that the previous one is superior to them, want to compete and surpass his memory, Or that you never had the same type of relationship or experiences as before.

    It can also lead to relationships in which the couple or their environment often reminds them of the ex-partner in question, or even in relationships in which a direct comparison between their relationships is indeed exercised (being that comparison with the intention of to hurt or not). It can also be facilitated when the person finds out that they have the exact same personality and / or physical schema as their partner, and can feel like a surrogate rather than a value on their own.

    It can possibly arise in couples where one member was recently widowed before joining their current partner, or has not come through the loss and memories. Although grief is normal, in some people who are insecure it can be seen as a reflection that they don’t have such a deep love story with the person concerned.


    Dealing with Rebecca Syndrome can be difficult and have serious repercussions on the health of the relationship. In order to process, it may be necessary intervention at the level of the couple and the individual in the case of the person concerned.

    In the first case, it is recommended to encourage communication about the current relationship, to work on any dissatisfaction that may exist and to show and value both the positive aspects of it and why they are together. It will also be necessary to assess whether it is a comparison made unilaterally by the person suffering from the syndrome or if it is his sentimental partner, the environment or the ex-partner who actively generates it (because it is also possible) The comparison.

    It should also be taken into account not focusing on characteristics of past relationships nor detail them to a large extent as this can facilitate comparisons, and especially if there are unsatisfactory aspects in the present. This is not to deny previous relationships, but not to go into too much detail.

    But the most important thing will certainly be to work at the individual level. It will take work on self-esteem and self-concept, what the partner means to the person with the syndrome and why they consider themselves jealous of their previous relationships. We must also talk about the consequences and difficulties that the situation of jealousy generates in the couple.

    On another side the presence of attitudes of control and persecution can be valued and worked on, In addition to restructuring the beliefs that the subject may have about himself, his partner and his ex-partners (especially if they are presented as idealized).

    Bibliographical references:

    • Posadas, C. (2014). Rebecca syndrome. Guide to warding off ghosts of love. Editorial Planeta.

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