What is Erotomania? – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
In contemporary classification systems, erotomania, also referred to as Clérambault’s syndrome, is categorized as a delusional disorder characterized by the firm belief that “one is loved from afar” (Brendan, 2005), usually by a highly-recognized individual, such as a celebrity. Delusions are false beliefs that are based on erroneous inferences about one’s reality, which may even persist regardless of contradicting evidence or the fact that the belief is not accepted or shared by other members of society. According to the DSM-V, delusions may be associated with certain circumstances within one’s life, such as a recent loss of an attachment figure, and must not be attributable to an organic disorder. In the context of erotomania, a number of patients have reported a sudden onset of the delusional belief and have additionally engaged in obsessive behaviors, as they tried to find ‘proof’ that would verify their conviction (Brendan, 2005). Often such delusional patients begin to believe that their admirers are communicating with them in covert and non-verbal manners.
Although erotomania is considered to be a relatively rare delusional disorder, studies have demonstrated that more females are affected by this condition which is thought to develop after puberty, particularly when “ideals of love and idealized love objects first begin to take shape” (Seeman, 2016). Several studies have demonstrated that erotomania generally occurs within individuals who feel socially rejected and in addition have little romantic relational experience. Therefore, mental health professionals believe that such individuals turn to “the fantasy that an acknowledge superior human being adores them” (Seeman, 2016). In fact, this delusional conviction commonly provides patients with a sense of having a stable attachment figure and additionally strengthens their self-esteem, as they begin to identify with the idealized person and attribute wishful characteristics to themselves. Mental health professionals have come to the agreement that such delusional ideas commonly function as some sort of “compensation for feelings of incompetence, unworthiness, rejection, and loneliness” (Seeman, 2016) and therefore further preserve due to isolation. Interestingly, erotomania is associated with significant stalking, harassment and menace behaviors.
As for the treatment options of erotomania, patients may be provided with both pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, including psychosocial and risk management therapies. The central objective of these treatments is to restore patients’ social functions and enhance their psychological well-being (Brendan, 2005). In addition to the afore-stated treatment options, mental health professionals must perform follow-up sessions for the purpose of assess adherence to these treatments and ensure the validity of the interventions.
Personally, I found this research highly rewarding as I was not previously aware of erotomania. I was truly interested in finding out about the various explanatory approaches for why patients may develop erotomania and was made aware that it is highly important to follow a holistic approach as a psychologist, meaning that one should also consider a patient’s social circle and current life circumstances. Moreover, this research has helped me understand that dealing with delusional patients may be difficult, however, I was able to familiarize myself with a couple of treatment options which have additionally provided me with a greater insight on this disorder.
Brendan, D. K. (2005). Erotomania. CNS Drugs, 19(8), 657–669. doi:10.2165/00023210-200519080-00002
Seeman, M. V. (2016). Erotomania and Recommendations for Treatment. The Psychiatric quarterly, 87(2), 355–364. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-015-9392-0
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