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An affected person typically makes repeated accusations of infidelity based on insignificant or minimal evidence, often citing seemingly normal or everyday events or material to back up their claim. They may also take great pains to test their partner's fidelity and can go to considerable lengths to monitor their behaviour and movements. This may be taken to extremes, such as waiting outside of the partner's workplace during their working day or even following them into the bathroom in case their partner has an illicit meeting with their perceived lover.
Unlike other delusional disorders, delusional jealousy has a strong association with violence and in some cases stalking behaviour. At the very least affected individuals tend to be irritable and confrontational.
One particularly interesting aspect of delusional jealousy is that the constant accusations and suspicion of infidelity from the delusional spouse has been reported to have driven some partners to actually have an affair.
One of the criteria for a belief to be diagnosed as a delusion is that the belief should be false. In these cases, it would seem that the belief is no longer false and should therefore be considered normal, despite the otherwise disturbed behaviour of the person concerned. This is a paradox and highlights one of the shortcomings of psychiatric diagnosis of delusions.
References & BibliographyEdit
- Enoch, D. & Ball, H. (2001) The Othello Syndrome. In Enoch, D. & Ball, H. Uncommon psychiatric syndromes (Fourth edition) pp50-73. London: Arnold. ISBN 0340763884
- Easton, J. A., Schipper, L. D., & Easton, J. A., Schipper, L. D., & Shackelford, T. K. (2006). Why the adaptationist perspective must be considered: The example of morbid jealousy. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 411-412. Full text
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