Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is a rare syndrome affecting less than 0.1% of the world population. Currently, OLD is not yet recognized as an official mental disorder in the ICD-10 and DSM-5. However, this syndrome causes extremely severe consequences for the health and quality of life of the patients themselves.
What is Obsessive Love Disorder?
Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is also known by many different names such as obsessive love syndrome, Adele syndrome, infatuation and some less common names. other variable.
This term refers to a form of mental disorder in which the person is overly obsessed with the desire to possess and protect the person they love. Patients always have a feeling of love to the point of madness leading to paranoia, hallucinations and uncontrolled behaviors. When the person they love is not present, it is almost unbearable for the patient and fills in the desire by imagining the image of the loved one.
Obsessive love disorder is a serious mental disorder, not simply the feeling of crazy love as many people mistakenly believe. This syndrome will destroy the patient over time if left untreated. Some people even leave reality and immerse themselves in the fantasy world in order to satisfy their desire to possess.
The Origin of Obsessive Love Syndrome
Obsessive love syndrome has its origins in the tragic love affair of Adele Hugo – the daughter of French writer Victor Hugo. This is also the reason this syndrome is also known as Adele syndrome.
As the daughter of a great writer, Adele Hugo (1830-1916) was raised in a good environment, possessing erudite knowledge and beautiful beauty. At the age of 16, she fell in love with photographer and journalist Auguste Vacquerie (1819-1895) but could not marry because of her age. Then, Victor Hugo’s family had to move to Jersey Island (USA) in 1851 after publicly declaring Louis Napoleon III a traitor to France and supporting a newspaper critical of Queen Victoria.
During the exile, Adele Hugo met and fell in love with the British army officer – Albert Andrew Pison. Although quite old, this officer has a strong, handsome and very attractive appearance. Their love affair started quite smoothly, even Albert Andrew Pison proposed to Adele Hugo but she refused because of her haughty personality. However, some information suggested that she did not accept the marriage proposal due to the objection of her family.
Not long after that, officer Albert Andrew Pison also had to move to Bedfordshire (England) in 1856. Geographical distance caused Albert Andrew Pison’s affection for Adele Hugo to fade. In contrast, Adele Hugo has always had passionate love for the other party. Then this love grew to become the ultimate obsession, gradually destroying the beautiful girl and causing her to live in misery for the rest of her life.
Although Albert Andrew Pison is cold and no longer interested in her, Adele Hugo still holds deep feelings. She went with the officer everywhere and followed him in his job transfers. However, Albert Andrew Pison no longer has feelings for Adele Hugo even a little.
During this time, the family was very worried so they wrote her a letter. Instead of telling the truth, she informed everyone that she had come to meet her lover’s family, who were also married and living happily together. Stubbornly keeping the love of the officer, Adele Hugo does not give up in any way – even pretending to be a boy to easily track and monitor the person she loves.
Adele Hugo constantly writes in a diary while following her lover. In 1869, Albert Andrew Pison left Barbados for England and abandoned her entirely. At this time, Adele Hugo was still in Barbados and heard that her beloved was married to Catherine Edith Roxburgh.
This event was like a drop of water that made Adele Hugo’s spirit no longer sober. She did not return to France but continued to wander around and completely cut off contact with her family. Then she became desperate, panicked, roamed everywhere and went crazy. She always thought that she was the wife of Albert Andrew Pison, so she asked everyone to call her “Mrs. Pinson”.
When she witnessed Adele Hugo being laughed at by those around him, an African-American woman took her home to live. However, by this time, her mind was completely broken. She has absolutely no memory of who she is and constantly appears hallucinating and paranoid. Faced with an increasingly serious condition, Adele Hugo was put in an insane asylum and immersed in an obsession with love for the rest of her life.
Recognizing Obsessive Love Disorder
Currently, obsessive love disorder is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, there have been many cases of patients coming to the clinic with symptoms of this syndrome. Therefore, obsessive love syndrome is often diagnosed with recognized mental disorders.
Signs of obsessive love disorder:
- There is a feeling of love to the point of madness and loss of reason. Even without a response, they are madly in love, longing to be loved and immersed in the romance of love.
- It is almost impossible for the patient to be without the person he loves. They spend a lot of time thinking about the person they love, and the content of their dreams is related to the person they love passionately.
- Some spend all their days gathering and learning information about their loved one.
- Being overly attracted to and obsessively about that person. The patient always feels the need to possess and protect him or her from pain and suffering.
- Thoughts and actions are done with the purpose of possessing the one you love.
- Feelings of extreme jealousy, pain, or anger when the person you love gets close or marries someone else.
- Low self-esteem, often defying all means to win the heart of the person they love.
- Do not accept the opponent’s parting. They always find a way to save the relationship even when both are really over.
- Wishing to be cared for and beside each other every day. The obsession with love makes the person uninterested in other relationships.
- When the lover is not around, the patient will often monitor or send text messages or make phone calls.
- In some cases, obsessive love syndrome occurs when the patient falls deeply in love with a stranger or celebrity he has never met.
- The intense desire to be loved makes the patient unable to concentrate on anything. The excess of the patient’s love and care makes the other person feel suffocated. Therefore, most patients will be abandoned in a romantic relationship.
- When the love is not reciprocated, the patient will appear delusional and paranoid with the content that both are in perfect love, are married and live happily together.
- When returning to reality, the patient will become miserable, desperate, panic when not receiving a response in love. Some people self-harm, lose control of their actions, or reassure themselves with false hopes.
- Gradually, the patient’s health deteriorated completely. The patient loses consciousness and is immersed in an imaginary world.
Causes of obsessional love syndrome
Similar to other mental disorders, experts still have not found the cause of obsessive love syndrome. Because many patients with this syndrome do not experience a traumatic event related to emotional or sexual relationships.
According to experts, obsessive love syndrome can be related to the following factors:
1. Attachment Disorders
Attachment disorders are divided into two categories, social attachment disorder (DSED) and reactive attachment disorder (RAD). People with the syndrome have no psychological discrimination against people they have never met. They are completely defenseless with strangers, ready to approach, hug and have close behaviors with others if loved.
Attachment disorders are often related to negative past experiences. As a result, as the patient grows older, the patient trusts and gets along with most strangers without any reservations.
Many experts believe that people with attachment disorders can develop a strong desire for love with a certain object. This object may possess perfect appearance, personality or have special features that make the patient fall in love with madness and passion.
2. Borderline Personality Disorder
People with borderline personality disorder are characterized by being too sensitive in personal relationships, having too much mood swings, thinking in black and white, and having an unstable self-image. Statistically, this is the most common form of personality disorder today.
People with this condition always have a fear of being abandoned. They can become extremely angry, panicked, and scared within minutes as soon as their partner shows signs of abandonment. The characteristic of people with borderline personality disorder is black and white thinking. That is, with all problems, aspects and people, they think that everything has only 2 sides, good and bad.
When receiving the attention of others, they tend to idolize, admire and especially love that person. However, just because of a very small act such as refusing an appointment or request of a sick person, this person immediately becomes a bad object in their eyes. Thus, they can move very quickly from a loving, empathetic, caring state to a sarcastic, cynical one.
Obsessive love disorder can occur during the period when the patient is passionately in love with the object. They always want to control and accompany their lover in any situation. Even when their lover is not around, they will spend a lot of time thinking about that person. Gradually the obsession grew larger and appeared hallucinations and paranoia.
3. Paranoid Jealousy
Jealousy delusions have been identified as one of the psychiatric problems associated with obsessive love disorder. Jealousy delusion is a condition in which a patient has a false belief that a partner is unfaithful despite the lack of evidence, even though the evidence suggests otherwise.
Patients defiantly keep their own beliefs despite the facts and advice from those around them. Many experts believe that some patients with obsessive love syndrome may be paranoid. This makes the patient think that the other person also has special feelings for him or her, even though in fact it is not. However, because of stubbornly keeping the belief, the patient is immersed in hallucinations and paranoia.
4. Erotomania . Syndrome
Erotomania syndrome is also known as paranoid syndrome that someone else loves you. People with this syndrome believe that one or more people are passionately in love with them. Objects of delusion are often people with status, beauty, fame, wealth, or special talents.
Because of the delusion that the other person is passionately in love, the patient often engages in harassment and stalking behavior. However, they do not perceive their own behavior as inappropriate. In contrast, the patient has feelings of infatuation and infatuation with the other party. When suffering from this syndrome, patients find it difficult to concentrate to study, work, and do not care about friends and other relationships in life.
5. Other factors
Obsessive love disorder can also be related to factors such as:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Fear of abandonment syndrome
- Jealousy obsession
- Have had negative experiences in the past?
- Family history of paranoia, schizophrenia, obsessive love disorder, etc.
Is obsessive love syndrome dangerous?
Obsessive love disorder is a rare syndrome affecting less than 0.1% of the world population and will often be accompanied by other mental disorders. Currently, this syndrome has not been recognized as a separate mental disorder. Therefore, doctors will often make a diagnosis of other mental disorders such as paranoia, psychosis, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, etc.
If diagnosed and treated early, obsessive love disorder usually has a good response. Patients can experience reduced feelings of extreme love and infatuation. In addition, treatment will also help the patient regain interest in other problems and aspects of life.
In contrast, obsessive love disorder can become more serious over time if left untreated. Because of being immersed in delusion and feeling a crazy desire for love, the patient is almost unable to study, work and not care about other relationships.
In the long run, the desire and desire to be loved leads to uncontrolled behaviors, false hopes, hallucinations, paranoia, and sometimes self-harm. These things are repeated over a long period of time, causing physical and mental damage to the patient. The patient is gradually immersed in the imaginary world and away from reality.
Diagnosis of obsessive love disorder
Currently, obsessive love disorder is not recognized as an official mental disorder. Therefore, the diagnosis will be based on the doctor’s experience. Usually, this syndrome will be diagnosed after all possibilities have been ruled out.
In addition, the doctor will also screen for factors that increase the risk of disease such as female gender, pre-existing psychiatric disorders, family history and negative past experiences. Comorbidities take longer to diagnose, and obsessive love disorder is often considered a symptom group of an officially diagnosed mental disorder.
Obsessive love disorder treatments
Obsessive love disorder is a mental disorder that requires treatment, although it is not yet recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association (DSM). Currently, the treatment of this syndrome is quite challenging.
In fact, there is no specific treatment regimen for obsessive love syndrome. Depending on the specific case, the doctor may prescribe pharmacological or psychological therapy, or it may also be a combination of both.
Using drugs cannot reduce the feeling of infatuation and falling in love to the point of delusion and loss of consciousness. However, the drug can improve some symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, mood disorders, insomnia, etc. caused by obsessive love syndrome.
Depending on the specific symptoms of each case, the doctor will prescribe some of the following drugs:
- Sedatives, anxiolytics
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Mood stabilizers
These drugs will be used short-term or long-term depending on the type. Besides the benefits, these drugs also cause many side effects. Therefore, the family and the patient themselves need to pay attention to abnormal manifestations in order to promptly notify the doctor in case of necessity.
Psychotherapy is also effective in treating obsessive love disorder. This method will be done in the form of individual therapy. Cases with obsessive love syndrome due to childhood experiences will be combined with family therapy.
Psychotherapy is applied to patients with obsessive love disorder:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Talk therapy
- Therapy games (for kids)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
Therapy requires the support of family and friends. The sharing and encouragement of those around will help the patient regain interest in other aspects of life. Thereby reducing the excessive and persistent obsession with love.
Besides, psychotherapy also helps patients find motivation and things that they love. As a result, patients can focus on self-development to build a good life instead of just wallowing in illusions. Psychotherapy will also provide spiritual support for people with psychological trauma, equipping them with skills and experience to cope with and overcome stress.
Obsessive love disorder is a rare syndrome but profoundly affects quality of life and physical and mental health. Therefore, people around need to pay special attention to the patient to support the patient to overcome the illness and return to a normal life as before.