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Celotype: the disorder of pathological jealousy

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When we love someone we would like that person to be with us, for their presence to be a more or less constant element in our lives and to make them happy as much as possible. The idea of ​​losing a loved one can be hard and difficult to accept, being something that causes us discomfort, anguish and fear. Sometimes this fear transforms into the fear that someone will take it away from us.

In some people, this desire to maintain a relationship with the loved one can turn into possessiveness, constantly fearing that they will be left for another person and believing based on this fear that the couple is cheating on them with another or other people. And within this group of people there are some in which the beliefs that they are being cheated on with other people are persistent and rigid, appearing these beliefs even when there is evidence to the contrary and can cause serious problems in the relationship, controlling behaviors and even violence towards the loved person or hers possible lovers.

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We are talking about people with celotype, a subtype of delusional disorder.

  • Related article: "Delusional Disorder (Paranoid Psychosis): Causes and Symptoms"

Jealousy and celotype

Be jealous someone's is relatively common. Jealousy is a negative emotional state (that is, problematic and maladaptive) that arises at the idea of ​​losing something loved, someone taking away an asset, a situation or a relationship that we have and want to maintain with U.S.

However, while wanting to keep the loved object or person by our side is logical, the presence of jealousy indicates a certain level of possessiveness that can destroy one's relationship existing between person and object or loved one, and that can also harm the latter and / or put them in a vulnerable situation. And it is that in many cases this situation occurs without there being a reason that can cause jealousy, such as the disorder that this article deals with.

Othello syndrome: delusional disorder of the celotypic type

Sexual celotype or Othello syndrome is a subtype of delusional disorder in which the person is convinced that her partner is unfaithful without any reason to justify it. It appears before an apparently banal fact that the person interprets as a suspect and on which later a belief system is built, searching and interpreting data that seem support them.

These beliefs about possible infidelity they usually cause the person to have a high level of control of the couple's activities, getting to spy on their conversations and their actions in order to try to catch him / her and confirm the suspicions. The information that the person seeks is biased, making anomalous interpretations of the responses, attitudes and ways of acting before other people in the being loved in such a way that normal stimuli are interpreted as confirmatory, ignoring the evidence and information that contradict the supposed infidelity. In certain circumstances the loved one or those who are interpreted as third parties can be attacked.

The delusions are systematized, that is to say that despite the fact that there is no evidence or reasons that thoughts the ideas themselves present a certain logic and internal coherence that makes them plausible. For this reason it can be complex to show that they are beliefs that are not limited to reality. In other words, although our partner can be faithful, it is not impossible that loved ones can leave of being one and / or leaving us for another person, which makes it difficult to see that the thought that he is unfaithful to us is not realistic.

Thus, celotype is not only experiencing very intense jealousy, but also implies a predisposition to develop delusional and therefore psychopathological thoughts. On the other hand, in jealousy, the problematic aspects of jealousy are exacerbated when what is wanted conserve is a person, such as the tendency to objectify that human being, seeing him as a good that is has.

Who is more likely to suffer from this pathological jealousy?

According to the statistics used to analyze this disorder, the sex with the highest prevalence varies, but this disorder is usually seen in consultation in people over forty years of age (probably due to the consideration that with age attractiveness and skills are lost, which causes insecurity), although the fact that we are in a dynamic society with constant changes and that relationships have become more variable and insecure has manifested itself in more and more people youths.

Generally, people with celotype tend to present a high level of insecurity, along with marked feelings of inferiority and a way of seeing the world according to which failures are usually attributed to external variables, global and stable, with which problems in the relationship are considered as indicators that there is someone else.

Due to these doubts and insecurities, it is common for many of these people to consume large amounts amounts of alcohol and other substances, which in turn impair judgment and cause a higher cognitive bias.

The other side of the coin: the couple

The spouse may initially think that the manifestation of jealousy of the person with celotype 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 turn aversive.

The fact of being constantly controlled by the partner and the constant doubts of the person suffering from the disorder about the relationship cause a high level of stress and frustration, and can even lead the couple to present anxiety disorders or depression. And is that all these circumstances cause a high level of conflict with the couple, being frequent presence of unfounded accusations and a high level of dissatisfaction and suffering on the part from both.

Sometimes the persistence of the problem could even lead to a situation of self-fulfilling prophecy, in which the subject tired of the situation decides to leave the relationship or make the suspicion of infidelity come true.

Causes of pathological jealousy

The causes of celotype can be very varied. The fact of having previously lived in infidelity situations causes some people to have a high feeling of insecurity and a tendency to consider that future partners can and will make them the same.

It is also frequent that it appears in people with unstructured families and parental models where the presence of insecurity in the couple and infidelity is frequent. Sometimes these people have considered that the situation or separation from their parents it is their fault (as in the case of children with divorced parents), or that the presence of cheating and infidelity is a common occurrence in couple relationships.

In any case, it is known that family crises accentuate all the potential problems that can occur in this area, and jealousy is part of these. The uncertainty about what is going to happen and the insecurity make one begin to distrust more and that jealousy gains strength.

Celotype from Psychoanalysis

Some authors with a psychoanalytic tendency consider that the cause of this type of phenomenon is a weakening of the self and its limits, projecting parts of the personality onto other people, in this case the spouse. In this way, insecure and very sexual people would project their insecurity on their partner, appearing the compulsive fear that they have doubts about the relationship and look for someone better. These patients' feelings of inferiority, who feel they are of little importance, are confronted through denial and projection.

Another possible explanation suggests that the delusion is due to an attempt to give a logical explanation to a an apparently strange perception, an explanation that reassures the person regarding the uncertainty caused by the perception. Thus, a normal event is interpreted in an anomalous way, deriving this interpretation in a belief system that is maintained over time despite the fact that they may be unfounded.


Treating a delusional disorder can be complex due to the many factors and agents to consider. In the case of the celotypic subtype of delusional disorder some of the guidelines to apply in the treatment are the following.

1. Awareness and modification of dysfunctional beliefs

Treating this type of problem requires the modification of the patient's dysfunctional beliefs, with which a cognitive-behavioral treatment. The delusional theme should not be confronted directly, but a progressive approach has to be made and a relationship of trust established so that the patient expresses her fears.

It is intended that, little by little, the patient makes aware and verbalizes her fears about it and what the existence of an infidelity would mean for him or her. Thus, the patient himself reflects little by little on his beliefs, how he has come to have them and the logic and coherence of his arguments.

Subsequently, the patient has been made to see that his interpretation is only one of the many possible interpretations, making him reflect on other options. Blaming yourself or the other person makes the situation worse, so you should avoid and redirect the feelings that the situation causes. Relativizing and decatastrophizing the presence of an infidelity has also proven to be of some use in some cases.

In addition, it is necessary to make the patient see that if her partner is with them it is because she values ​​them and wants to be with him / her. It has also been tried that the person sees that it is logical and normal for other people to find the loved one attractive and that this does not imply that they will reciprocate.

2. Exposure in imagination and prevention of control behaviors

As we have said, it is very common for people with Othello syndrome to carry out a series of behaviors in order to control and make sure whether or not their partner is being faithful to them. These behaviors are reinforced through a conditioning process (checking that there is nothing temporarily calms them down, which causes subsequent checks that prevent anxiety). In these cases, it is necessary to make the patient capable of tolerating uncertainty and anxiety.

For it one of the most successful treatments is exposure with response prevention. Thus, it is intended that the person imagine in a graduated way situations in which the partner is unfaithful and controls the need to carry out checks in this regard. This exposure must be gradual and guided between the therapist and the patient, in order to make it tolerable and effective.

3. Couple therapy

It has been mentioned before that the persistence of the jealousy attitude causes serious problems in the couple's relationship, affecting and causing great suffering in both parties.

For this reason, it is advisable to carry out couple therapy, finding a space where both people can express their doubts and feelings. In the same way, making both the person with celotype and his partner see what the other should feel can be useful to assess the situation in a more correct way.

These types of interventions are important because they address the problem globally, not focusing on individuals but on groups and relational dynamics. However, keep in mind that in most cases it is also necessary to attend individual psychotherapy sessions, without the other member of the couple, to work on specific aspects of the management of emotions and to explore in more depth the problematic psychological predispositions of the person.

Encouraging communication is essential to improve the situation. and increasing mutual trust within the relationship is essential, making the zealot see that the fact that his partner is unfaithful to him is less probable from what you believe and to the partner that the attitude of the jealous person is due to a disorder that is being treated and that he or she needs their help to overcome.

Bibliographic references:

  • 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, J.L. (2004). General partner and relational uncertainty as consequences of another person's jealousy expression. Western Journal of Communication. 68(2): 195 - 218.
  • Burton, N. (2015). Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions. United Kingdom: Acheron Press.
  • Mathes, E. (1991). A Cognitive Theory of Jealousy. The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Parrott, W.G. (1991). The emotional experiences of envy and jealousy, The psychology of jealousy and envy. Ed. P. Salovey. New York: Guilford.
  • Reidl Martínez, L.M. (2005). Jealousy and envy: human emotions. National Autonomous University of Mexico.
  • Shackelford, T.K.; Voracek, M.; Schmitt, D.P.; Buss, D.M.; Weekes-Shackelford, V.A.; Michalski, R.L. (2004). Romantic jealousy in early adulthood and in later life. Human Nature. 15 (3): 283 - 300.
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