Erotomania, also known as de Clerambault syndrome, is a disorder characterized by the patient believing that someone, usually of a higher status, is in love with them. Erotomanic delusions are pretty rare, and previous reports have shown that social media might worsen these beliefs.
In most of the cases the reason behind these delusional episodes remain unknown, but some studies suggest that they can develop as a coping mechanism to extreme stress or even trauma. Genetic may also have an effect on delusions in general. Because this is such a rare condition it might be difficult to diagnose, both because other disorders should be ruled out, as well as the symptoms has to be recognized by the clinician. (Faden, Levin, Mistry, & Wang, 2017)
A case study of a 24-year-old male college student was done by Faden and colleagues. The subject of this study used social media to stalk a female college student, in which led to him being suspended from the university as well as hospitalization. In fact, this man had delusions regarding multiple women, in which he believed to be in love with him. (Faden, Levin, Mistry, & Wang, 2017)
The case that led forced this man into the light, and in hospitalization, was however regarding one single female. The man was stalking this woman and trespassing into college properties, despite a “No contact order”. When being interviewed, he claimed that she was in love with him, despite there being no evidence for this. However, all of his tests were normal, which lead to the diagnosis of erotomanic delusions.
Erotomania in media
Despite the fact that it is a rare syndrome, there are even movies which uses erotomanic delusions in their stories. For instance, the famous TV-series YOU on Netflix, is about a man who has false beliefs that different women are in love with him, without any form of evidence. In this series, social media also take part in making his delusions even worse, with his imagination regarding these women.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. American Psychiatric Association.
Faden, J., Levin, J., Mistry, R., & Wang, J. (2017). Delusional Disorder, Erotomanic Type, Exacerbated by Social Media Use. Case Rep Psychiatry.
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