What Is Madame Bovary Syndrome?

What is Madame Bovary syndrome?

Madame Bovary’s syndrome or  bovarysme  is a behavioral disorder that appeared with the romantic books of the 19th century. From then on, the idealization of love has led thousands of people (basically women) to perpetual frustration and disappointment. The search for this “ideal love” always ends up contrasting with the realistic perception of a couple relationship.

We are talking about a psychological pathology that  was first described in 1892 by the philosopher Jules de Gaultier. In his essay, based on Madame Bovary’s work, he refers to the protagonist, Emma, ​​as the perfect stereotype of the person who suffers from what he calls “chronic emotional dissatisfaction”.

Who is Madame Bovary?

Emma Bovary is a literary character created by Gustave Flaubert in 1857.  The work speaks of her marriage to Charles Bovary, a provincial doctor who adores her but who does not correspond to her. This is what partly provokes her passion for the romantic books of the time, which she has devoured fiercely since her teenage years.

The constant search for the passionate and obsessive relationships that she discovers in her books causes in her a terrible and constant state of emotional dissatisfaction. After a depression, Charles decides to move to a small town where they will meet a series of characters of all kinds.

Emma will be seduced by two of them, first by a young student then by a Casanova called Rodolphe. Her relationship with the two men is full of possessiveness, jealousy and dependence. Faced with the abandonment of her lovers, she ends up committing suicide by swallowing arsenic.

Madame Bovary, like other literary figures like Anna Karenina,  renounces her family and her role as wife in order to go in search of love. It might sound very demanding, but it’s actually a big critique of idealized love. Emma is so obsessed with satisfying her desires that she doesn’t hesitate to put her family in debt, neglect her daughter, or hurt the people around her.

madame bovary with her lover

What are the characteristics of Madame Bovary syndrome?

1. A romance addiction

People who suffer from Madame Bovary syndrome do not know how to be alone. They live with the perpetual idea that an ideal loved one will arrive to change their life and get them out of their routine or their problems. When they end one relationship, they quickly start another. Their only goal is to find a person like the ones described in romantic books, series or movies.

Whenever they get to know a new person, they tend to become obsessed with it. They idealize him so much that it is impossible to make them change their mind, even if the person in question does not suit them or does not suit them.

2. Impossible relationships

Due to their inability to maintain a real relationship, these people often resort to impossible love affairs. This can happen  when they are already in a relationship: they still continue to pursue the idea of ​​an ideal love  with another person.

This pushes them to infidelity because, since they don’t know how to be alone, they will rarely experience romances if they don’t have another ace up their sleeve. Complicated relationships or with tormented people attract  them because they see them as romantic and passionate.

3. Constant dissatisfaction

When it comes time to start a relationship, they begin to discover that their partner / mate is a human being and therefore has flaws. Idealization disappears and this dissipation brings frustration again. They no longer consider this person to be adequate and begin to show symptoms of disinterest.

They never feel satisfied because they don’t understand what love is beyond the first step of falling in love. Their view of relationships is biased  and based on stories or characters who have never experienced tranquility, problems or monotony.

4. Imitation of the loved one

Due to their obsession with their mate, they start to copy his tastes, passions and even his way of thinking. Imitation occurs because of the exaggerated admiration that is felt for the other, but also out of fear. Madame Bovary syndrome causes immense fear: that the other person will abandon them. This can make them react in a very bad way when it comes to a breakup.

madame bovary movie

Who is affected by bovarysm?

Although two centuries ago this was a more common psychopathology in women,  the incidence has now leveled out. This is because in the past men were the ones who worked, while women stayed at home, devoting their free time to activities like reading. It took them away from reality and transported them to places where everyday problems did not exist.

People who have it usually experienced abandonment problems or emotional deficiencies during childhood. This causes them to feel this exacerbated need to succeed in capturing the attention of their partner / partner, so as not to experience these feelings again.

The main symptom of Madame Bovary’s syndrome is a melancholic state. People who suffer from this disease can be treated with the help of specialists who will assess the case and establish the most appropriate intervention protocol. This syndrome can also be linked to other more serious disorders such as obsessive disorders, which make the intervention even more necessary.

Recommended bibliography

Gaultier, J, (1892),  Le Bovarysme, psychology in the work of Flaubert , Paris, France.

Chronic dissatisfaction is bad for morale
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