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Pathological Obsession
When Love Turns Dangerous

By Jim Hall, MS, Love Addiction Recovery Specialist

Obsessive Love is a type of love where intense infatuation and compulsive behaviors can cause pain and distress and sabotage romantic relationships.


Pathological Love Is Obsessive, Dangerous, & Extreme - And more common than you may think!


But it can go even beyond mere relational sabotage. It can have an extremely dangerous side to it, something I call Pathological Obsessive Love, where not only is it destructive, but so extreme and pathological that it results in some of the worst evil acts committed in the name of "love.”

A majority of obsessive relationships never lead to violence and/or murder by a relationship partner. Unfortunately, a small percentage of them do.

I believe most people who've experienced an obsession with a love interest understand that “love” (addictive love) can cause you to behave inappropriately, but violence or murder in the name of “love” is a whole different story.

The connection between pathological obsessive love and violence is the most disastrous and consequential side of love addiction. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation crime reports, in 2011, over 10% of murders in the United States were committed by the victim’s lover ().


Yet, that small minority can add up to many thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of lives destroyed or lost each year.

For most of us, it is, truly hard to conceive killing a person, let alone killing a loved one, such as a partner, spouse, or child.

Not a day goes by of a story about a pathological lover who murders their male or female lover out of dangerous passion, jealousy, and/or obsession— typically triggered by a real or threatened breakup or divorce. In many cases, the murder of a lover includes their children, relatives, or even friends.

The following is an example of pathological obsessive love (a brief piece of the story):

HEADLINE: Father kills wife, self, children at home:

A man shot to death his wife and 18-month-old twins and then killed himself Sunday after a bitter quarrel with his estranged wife, police said.

The lawyer, killed his children, Sofia and Danny, with a single shot each before taking his own life, police said…

Billick's wife, Joan Brown, 35, had called police hours earlier Sunday… saying her husband was threatening violence... when she told him she was leaving with the children.


This is just one example. But you can find countless stories such as this on the internet and in any given week, month, or year; in almost any country, city, or town.


Justification for violent acts - "In the name of Love"

Pathological Obsessive Lovers come up with some remarkable justifications for their homicidal acts, here are a few of them:

  • Deep Emotional Pain Intertwined with "Love" ("because I loved her, and felt so much pain, I killed her; I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t love her")
  • Real or Perceived Betrayal ("she was trying to leave me, It’s like she stabbed me in the heart with a machete, I did everything for her")
  • Entitlement, objectification, loss of control ("she’s mine, no one else can have her… she didn't listen to me, and I warned her something bad could happen to me or her, I had to be in control and I had a right to do what I had to do")

In an interview, a pathological obsessive killer describes his rationale for homicidal actions of his wife (from the book, In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims; Oxford, 2008; Aaron Ben-Ze'ev and Ruhama Goussinsky). 

"She was everything to me. She was my soul. You don't always kill a woman, feel jealousy about a woman, or shout at a woman because you hate her. No. Because you love her, that's love. My wife was the kind of woman you'd never murder in your life, unless it was for love, because of madness, at that moment, at that moment a person loses everything, he doesn't think, it's a moment of madness. ...The only thing that I can say is that she was more honest than a Torah Scroll.”

So why murder someone like that? (The interviewer asks)...

“At that moment, you don't remember. You don't remember anything. You don't know what you're doing. Love makes a person stupid. Or maybe, maybe it's not worthwhile loving a woman so much. Maybe you have to love less, less madly, that is the madness of love... It's written this way in the Bible, that woman-maybe they mean a woman stranger, but it's my wife, but I'll tell you: 'A good man before God will flee from her, the sinner will be trapped by her.' Did you understand that verse? Maybe I was not good before God. Maybe I was a sinner. She trapped me. What is that trap? It's love."

Research has come to a primary conclusion on obsessive homicide— that many individuals who commit these obsessive acts of murder become incited by their lover or partner ending or threatening to end a romantic relationship. This becomes an acute threat to them, triggering a profound mood of deep despair, generating in their mind extreme rage, and desire to seek revenge or destroy the other person, even at the cost of self-destruction.

The irony is Pathological Obsessive Lovers who commit lethal acts of violence, are highly Narcissistic and/or display high Love Avoidance patterns within their relationship. It isn’t until their romantic partner decides to break up or threatens to break up when their Dangerous-Pathological Obsession kicks into high gear.

Instead of seeking help, the Pathological Lover while in deep despair, justifies crossing the most dangerous red line, believing there is only one answer... and one path for relief. Relief for them comes about by cruel and violent acts of murder of a lover/partner who they feel abandoned, rejected, and ‘betrayed’ them. Perhaps if they feel inclined, and many do, their rage will fuel them to do-in, or kill, even their own biological children, or their partner’s children, or both; and/or any others they blame for their despondent rage.

If only, in the midst of their erroneous cognitions and grave agony, they could find the courage to reach out for help to save the lives of loved ones and conceivably save their own lives.

Obsessive love is unhealthy and/or destructive.

In some cases, it is seriously pathological and dangerous. It doesn’t have to be this way if only those who suffer reach out for help.


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