Extreme Jealousy Could Indicate Delusional Disorder

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My boyfriend has periods when he gets insecure and jealous that he becomes very different and thinks there is a secret among the rest of the world that he isn’t included in regarding hooking up. He also sees words as code. He’ll look at my email spam and for instance if the word is Float, he thinks each letter stands for another word.

It all relates to dating, love and cheating. His wife cheated on him alot. He will be up for days talking to me and he’ll think that what I’m saying means something else and that I really am like everyone else and he just doesn’t know the right code to be “in” on the secret world. During these episodes, he can also rationalize that he’s probably being crazy and that he’s sorry. He’s calm and quiet during these times. He says he sees the codes in words/letters all the time, not just when he’s “trippin” as he calls it.

I’m worried about him and our family. He’s a happy person otherwise. This usually happens when we have an arguement and he leaves, he thinks I’m with someone else while he’s gone or that I purposefully started an arguement so I could be with someone else. He knows I’m completely faithful. I’ve even had him video call me while he’s gone and I cooperate fully…but he thinks whoever I’m with is in on it and hiding…etc. I am wondering where to even begin researching what this could be and how to help. I talk and talk to him and eventually he decides that maybe there isn’t a secret world…if I am telling him there isn’t.

A. It is possible that your boyfriend may be experiencing delusional disorder but only an in-person, psychiatric evaluation could confirm that diagnosis. Two possible signs of the disorder include his belief that words, as “codes”, have a hidden meaning and his paranoia with regard to you cheating. The fact that he had an ex-wife who cheated may make him hypersensitive to the possibility of cheating but his intense focus on your alleged infidelity is unusual.

Delusional disorder is a type of mental illness that involves psychosis. Psychosis is a break with reality. Psychosis involves the inability to distinguish what is real from what is not real. A delusion is the belief that something is real, despite evidence to the contrary.

Individuals with delusional disorders experience “non-bizarre delusions.” An example of a non-bizarre delusion is the belief that someone is being poisoned, followed, conspired against, or admired from a distance. There are six main types of delusions associated with delusional disorders. Jealous is one of them. Individuals experiencing a jealous type of delusion believe that their partner or spouse is cheating in the absence of evidence to support their belief.

If your partner is willing, he should undergo a psychiatric evaluation by a mental health professional. With regard to psychotic disorders, treatment is particularly important because generally, delusions do not go away on their own. They can become worse in frequency and in intensity. Medication could reduce or eliminate his delusions. It may not be easy to convince him to see a mental health professional but it would be in his best interest.

Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Sep 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Extreme Jealousy Could Indicate Delusional Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/09/02/personality-changes-reading-words-as-codes/