Obsessive love

Obsessive love or Obsessive love disorder (OLD) is a condition in which one person feels an overwhelming obsessive desire to possess and protect another person, sometimes with an inability to accept failure or rejection. Symptoms include an inability to tolerate any time spent without that person, obsessive fantasies surrounding the person, and spending inordinate amounts of time seeking out, making, or looking at images of that person.[1]


Although obsessive love is not contained in the DSM-5 as a specific mental disorder, it can often accompany other mental illnesses.[2] Depending on the intensity of their attraction, obsessive lovers may feel entirely unable to restrain themselves from extreme behaviors such as acts of violence toward themselves or others. Obsessive love can have its roots in childhood trauma and may begin at first sight; it may persist indefinitely, sometimes requiring psychotherapy.[3][4] In November 2019 marriage.com reported that although it could be “a slight exaggeration” Netflix show You had got people talking about obsessive love disorder.[5]


  • Author Liz Hodgkinson, herself a sufferer from Obsessive Love Disorder, in one instance lasting for fifty years and only being relieved by psychotherapy states "I believe that with obsessive love, time is no healer at all. The experience of obsessive love can be likened to dropping a stitch in knitting, and never picking it up. The knitting never quite looks right from then on, unless we unpick it and start again from the mistake."[3]
  • Sigmund Freud considered that obsessive love might be underpinned by an unconscious feeling of hate for which it overcompensated - thereby explaining the sufferer's feeling of a need to protect the love object.[6] Later analysts saw obsessive love as driven more by narcissistic need, the preoccupation with the love-object offering defences against worries and depressive feelings;[7] while Jungians see it as rooted in the projection of the inner self onto another person.[8]

In cultureEdit

In books and tvEdit

  • Marcel Proust dissected (his own style of) obsessive love in À la recherche du temps perdu.[9]
  • You, a 2014 thriller novel by Caroline Kepnes portrays obsessive love disorder. The novel was translated into 19 languages and has been adapted into the September 2018 Lifetime television series You, a critical success on Netflix from December 2018. Over 43 million viewers streamed the first season after its debut on the streaming service.[10] Based on Kepnes' follow-up novel Hidden Bodies, the second season was released exclusively on Netflix on December 26, 2019. On January 14, 2020, the series was renewed by Netflix for a third season, set to be released sometime in 2021.

In animeEdit

The term yandere is used by the anime and manga fandom as an over-dramatization of OLD. Usually, yandere characters are extremely brutal and do not hesitate to hurt and/or kill others in order to be with their beloved. The best known yandere characters include, among others, Yuno Gasai from the Future Diary anime and manga series.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Susan Forward; Craig Buck (1 January 2002). Obsessive Love: When It Hurts Too Much to Let Go. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-38142-9.
  2. ^ Obsessive Love Disorder, from Healthline
  3. ^ a b Hodgkinson, Liz (2013). Obsessive Love: How to Free Your Emotions & Live Again. Endeavour Press Ltd.
  4. ^ Derrow, Paula. (2014-01-14). "When normal love turns obsessive". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 2017-03-18.
  5. ^ https://www.marriage.com/advice/love/obsessive-love-disorder/ Obsessive Love Disorder 101
  6. ^ S Freud, Case Histories II (PFL 9) p. 118-9 and p. 70-1
  7. ^ O Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (London 1946) p. 382 and p. 533
  8. ^ C Jung, Man and his Soul (London 1964) p. 191
  9. ^ H Moss, The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust (2012) p. 51
  10. ^ Yahr, Emily (January 18, 2019). "'You' was ignored on Lifetime, then it blew up on Netflix – what does it mean for TV's future?". The Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on February 20, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Peabody, Susan (1995) [1989]. Addiction to Love: Overcoming Obsession and Dependency in Relationships (illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Ten Speed Press. ISBN 9780890877159.
  • Moore, John (2006) [2010]. Confusing Love with Obsession: When Being in Love Means Being in Control (illustrated, reprint, revised ed.). Hazelden Books. ISBN 978-1592853564.

External linksEdit