Jealousy can also be a symptom of Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder (ASAD). Research shows that about one third of children who suffer from separation anxiety as a disorder go on to be afflicted by it in adulthood. This means that in two thirds of cases it is developed in adulthood. Furthermore, a higher percentage of adults than children suffer from it, although this is not surprising considering the extent of attachment issues among people. Research done by Katherine Shear, Professor of Psychiatry in Columbia University, shows that it is early onset, usually beginning in the late teens, and it afflicts more women than men. It can also develop in tandem with complicated or long drawn out grief. Those who have it are also likely to have social fear, suffer from panic attacks or agoraphobia and are vulnerable to drug addictions. This means that those who suffer from ASAD are more likely to be treated for the comorbid complaint and their separation anxiety is left untouched.
Yet, while jealousy is frequently a symptom of ASAD, I frequently meet people who have significant separation anxiety, but do not suffer from jealousy. Despite their painful anxiety they choose not to restrict their partners’ freedom in an angry or jealous fashion, but cause them constant stress by pestering them with incessant text messages or phone calls about where they are, who they are with, what they are doing and when will they be home. One client, Richard, told me that his wife bombarded him with texts when he was at work, until he eventually turned off his phone during the day, thus ironically increasing her anxiety. It is a vicious circle, but clearly it is very difficult to live with someone suffering from ASAD, because of their unrelenting and intrusive demands. People, whose partners are anxious in this way, always refer to them as needy, a label that points to a childhood where their dependency needs were not met.
As you can now see, jealousy like any feeling is complex. You can experience different types and levels of it, and it is one of the most difficult burdens to shed. Extreme toxic jealousy is almost unbearable. It is a feeling you do not want. You hate having it and it seems to take on a life of its own, effectively ruining your peace of mind. It is frustrating that despite all your efforts it refuses to go away. No one technique will ease the trauma of jealousy, but the final chapter of this book will provide many techniques to help you deal with the issues arising from an insecure attachment, including jealousy. There are also techniques that directly target jealousy outlined in the remainder of this chapter.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE