Relationships - The Morbid Jealousy

Relationships - The Morbid JealousyRelationships - The Morbid Jealousy

Each of us knows jealousy. It always occurs when a relationship that is important to us is threatened. This can be a  relationship or jealousy between siblings or friends. There is always a feeling of fear behind this, combined with rivalry. In couples therapy, around a third of all couples cite jealousy as the main problem.
Because each individual can tolerate a different level of jealousy, it is almost impossible to define it clearly: the boundaries between "normal" and "pathological" are fluid.

Evolutionary biologists suspect that jealousy is an innate sensation. In primeval times, it ensured the welfare and material resources of men for women and their offspring. For men, in turn, it increases the chance of passing on their own genetic material and at the same time reduces the risk of caring for a “cuckoo child”.

Relationships - The Morbid Jealousy

What is jealousy?

Jealousy can be roughly described as an “agonizing feeling of any alleged or actual withdrawal of love”. It is mostly caused by real competition. If the triggering situation is over or if the partner can plausibly rebut the suspicion, the negative feelings usually subside relatively quickly.

What feelings does jealousy trigger?

  • Anger
  • Fear of being abandoned
  • feeling betrayed/hurt
  • uncertainty
  • mistrust
  • hate
  • sadness
  • Humiliation

What physical symptoms does jealousy trigger?

  • Muscle tension
  • Racing heart
  • Chest tightness

Relationships - The Morbid Jealousy

Pathological jealousy

One speaks of pathological jealousy when the quality of life of one or both sides is severely restricted by possessive behavior, even though there is insufficient evidence of the partner's infidelity. According to studies, men are significantly more often pathologically jealous than women, at 64%.

Pathological jealousy is not an illness in itself, but a symptom of various disorders. Experts differentiate between compulsive and delusional jealousy:

Compulsive jealousy

In the case of compulsive jealousy, the person concerned constantly revolves around the sexual or emotional infidelity of the partner, even though there is absolutely no evidence of the culprit's misconduct. The jealous person knows that the suspicions are exaggerated and irrational, but can not do otherwise: The thoughts keep pushing themselves - similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder - even without a specific reason. This can go so far that other areas of life such as work or maintaining social contacts are neglected. But their “victims” also suffer: They are severely restricted in their personal freedom by the constant controls of their partner.

Delusional jealousy

In its strongest form, pathological jealousy can also take on delusional traits; most cases are observed around the age of 40. In most cases, delusional jealousy occurs as an accompanying symptom of other diseases:

  • psychosis
  • depression
  • Neurological diseases: Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, dementia
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Substance abuse

Relationships - The Morbid Jealousy

The central theme of delusional jealousy is the unwavering conviction that the partner is unfaithful when there is no reason to be. In contrast to compulsive jealousy, delusional jealousies are unaware of their problem: the delusion becomes a private reality that cannot be corrected by anyone or anything. Even harmless events, such as Conversations between the partner and other people or disordered clothes are misinterpreted as confirmation of their convictions. Counter-arguments or attempts to explain are dismissed, ignored, or viewed as partial to the accused; they can make the effects even worse. The delusional jealousy often leads to an immensely high level of suffering - on both sides:

On the one hand, those affected resort to drugs, alcohol, and medication more often - a vicious circle that not infrequently (in up to 20% of cases) leads to a suicide attempt.
On the other hand, there is also a considerable risk to the "victims", since delusional jealousies usually confront their partner with their allegations and try to counteract the alleged infidelity with all possible means. This can result in massive restrictions on personal freedom, threats of separation, stalking, and even the use of violence against the wrongly accused partner.
The diagnosis of pathological jealousy requires a full psychiatric evaluation.

Therapy of morbid jealousy

  • Treatment of the underlying disease
  • Behavior therapy
  • Medication
  • Couples therapy

Helpful tips

  • Keep or try to regain your independence and do not completely adjust to your partner.
  • Avoid control measures (rummaging through bags, control calls, etc.).
  • Don't try to make your partner jealous out of “revenge”.
  • Try not to lose respect for your partner.
  • Open up with your partner so you can see signs of affection.
  • Try to clarify your own needs and demands on the relationship with your partner.
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