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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Obsessive Hatred - can it be treated?


 husband #2 - Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:36 pm

I'll try to keep this brief. I have been married for a few years to my second wife and we have children who live with us, but they are from previous marriages. We have been together for 9 years. My wife has an obsessive hatred for my ex-wife to the point that it has permeated every aspect of our marriage. She refuses to see a professional because she doesn't feel that anyone can help. She now considers divorce as inevitable because she sees that as her only option to getting rid of her feelings (which she says consume her). Obviously, there is something wrong. I have never heard of something like this, and the severity of the situation has nothing to do with any actual contact with the ex. They don't even speak to each other, there are no confrontations, etc. Just the fact that my ex exists is all it takes. My wife understands this is not normal, but this has existed with her for years and it only gets worse. I have searched the internet for something similar but am at a loss. If anyone has ever treated something like this, I would like to know if it can be treated medically.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:52 pm

Dear husband #2,

The way you describe this, there would seem to be three main possibilities. Most commonly, it would happen that your ex-wife has come to represent or remind your wife of someone in her past that she had a difficult relationship with. It is unlikely however that this is her only "symptom"; there may be more that you may be or not be aware of. There could very possibly be an underlying psychiatric disorder that is causing this, such as depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder, a delusional disorder, a personality disorder, or simply put, unresolved issues from the past. A look at your marriage may also be important.

I would not look exclusively for a medical treatment of this; it depends upon the diagnosis. To obtain this, your wife needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. Be sure she sees one who doesn't just prescribe medication, one who will take a careful history of her childhood and later life. A psychologist or social worker may be sufficient, but be sure they do a formal evaluation of a couple of sessions first, followed by discussion of a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

What you could say to your wife is that your family and your relationship to her is too important to break up without trying save it by getting first an evaluation, followed by the treatment recommended as a result. You could tell her that you love her and your family too much to allow a breakup to occur without getting help. Let her know that there is help for this, and a mental health professional is the appropriate treatment professional. Be sure she gets a formal evaluation before beginning in any talk therapy. Treatment may include talk therapy, medication, or both. Good luck! -Eliot Seigle MD

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