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Friday, 29 Jan 2021

Erotomania: The Delusion of Love

By Dr Becky Spelman
What is Erotomania and How to Treat It | Private Therapy Clinic

Erotomania is a rare form of delusion disorder, also known as De Clérambault syndrome. It’s categorised other subtypes of delusional disorder, including jealousy, grandiosity and persecution. The affected individual believes that a personality they have had no prior connection to is in love with them. This is most often someone who’s in the public eye and has a higher social status. It could be a celebrity, politician, or someone wealthy.

This longing to be in a relationship is considered delusional as it has no basis in reality. Since there has often been no contact between the ‘Erotomaniac’ and their love interest, it’s regarded as the workings of fantasy. It’s an infatuation, as there is no real grounding in love. But to the person suffering from this delusion, their feelings are very real. They sometimes believe that they’re being given secret messages through telepathy and other means.

What are the Causes of Erotomania?

The cause of Erotomania isn’t quite clear, although it’s clearly a circumstantial condition as with many mental health issues. However, what can be said is it most often comes to manifest as a direct result of environmental factors, current mental state and baseline personality of the person it’s affecting.

Another well-documented finding is that Erotomania isn’t a static condition. It can present by itself as an individuated case of delusion disorder. But it has also been shown to present as a symptom of more serious conditions such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and even Alzheimer’s in some cases.

Several notable psychologists have also suggested that the social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have been known to exacerbate and possibly even trigger the condition. As these sites look to break down the barrier between people who’re otherwise disconnected, it gives a false sense of kinship. It creates a relatability that people who may be emotionally vulnerable or in need of help may latch onto in their time of need. This assertion is backed up by several studies that have suggested the attachment observed in cases of erotomania could be a coping mechanism for managing severe stress.

Symptoms

Here’s an overview of some of the most common symptoms you can expect to see in erotomania:

  • The obsessive consumption of media relating to the person they’ll infatuated with.
  • Sending unsolicited letters, emails, and gifts to the other person.
  • Trying to establish contact by phone.
  • Believing that their love interest is trying to secretly communicate with them.
  • Displaying feelings of jealousy that the person may be being “unfaithful” to them.
  • Harassing their love interest in public.
  • Talking incessantly about their love interest.
  • Engaging in stalking-like behaviour.

Treatment

Like with many other delusional disorders such as narcissism, treatment can be extremely hard to initiate because of the utter conviction that what they’re saying is true. Therapeutic intervention must always be a cooperative affair. It can’t be forced upon someone. However, if there is a willingness to engage with therapy, the area that will usually be the most cause for concern is the psychosis. This will be treated with a combination of therapy and medication (depending on the severity of the delusions.

Classic anti-psychotic medications such as pimozide have been used successfully, while non-traditional anti-psychotics such as olanzapine, risperidone, and clozapine have been used in conjunction with talk-based therapies.

However, if erotomania is a symptom of an underlying condition such as bipolar, a treatment plan for this condition would be favoured instead of creating a bespoke plan for the erotomania, itself. Bipolar is most often treated with mood stabilisers such as lithium (Lithonia), or valproic acid (Depakene).

About the author:

Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.

***If you’re struggling with Erotomania and think you might benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here

 

References

Medical News Today. (28th Aug 2017) What is Erotomania. Retrieved on 12th February, 2020 from, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319145.php

Health Line. (28th Aug 2017) Erotomania. Retrieved on 12th February, 2020 from, https://www.healthline.com/health/erotomania

WebMD. (28th Aug 2017) What is Erotomania. Retrieved on 12th February, 2020 from, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-erotomania#1

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