Othello Syndrome

The Othello Syndrome (also known as morbid jealousy or delusional jealousy) is obviously named after the character in the tragedy ‘The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice’, wherein Othello murdered his wife Desdemona out of intense distrust.

The syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which the patient holds a strong but delusional belief that their is being unfaithful without having any, very little, or insignificant proof to back up their claim. This results in making incessant groundless accusations of infidelity, taking considerable pains to test their mate’s trustworthiness even to the extent of displaying stalking and violent behaviour. The Othello Syndrome also borders on a paranoid personality disorder.
People who are very insecure or even fearful are more likely to become anxious or question their partner’s commitment to them. For men the strongest trigger is sexual infidelity and with women the strongest trigger is emotional infidelity. Alcohol and drug misuse has a well-recognized association with morbid jealousy.

The Othello Syndrome is a more common psychiatric side effect in patients with Parkinson's Disease[1] or dementia[2]. It is a very disturbing symptom for patients and their partners, often underestimated by them.

[1] Cannas et al: Othello syndrome in Parkinson disease patients without dementia in Neurologist - 2009
[2] Cipriani et all: Dangerous passion: Othello syndrome and dementia in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences - 2012

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