Romantic love, or the feeling of being in love with another person, is one of the most turbulent and annoying mood experiences a person can have. Love can alter and transform the way a person thinks, speaks and behaves, and can become a huge source of well-being when it is reciprocated.
However, what happens when one person becomes obsessed with the idea that the other is also in love with him when the reality is different? This alteration of thought is known as erotomania., And in it, the person is fully convinced that his love is reciprocal, even if there is no proof of this.
What is erotomania?
Erotomania is a strange form of paranoid delirium currently classified as erotomaniac-type delusional disorder. The content of this delirium is characterized by a deep conviction that another person, usually of social class or higher rank, has romantic feelings or is in love with the delusional person.
These beliefs or perceptions that the other person has a series of romantic emotions towards the patient are completely unfounded, because, moreover, in most cases, the actual contact between these two people is practically nil.
Likewise, this delirium implies harassing behavior towards the other person, Feeling of hope or longing for the other and, when the other does not respond, ends up leading to deep resentment towards him.
The patient may come to believe that there is some sort of invisible and mystical communication between the two, accusing the other of sending love signals or provoking these beliefs.
This disorder, traditionally known as Clérambault syndrome, was widely described by this French psychiatrist in 1921 in his treatise Les Psychoses Passionelles.
Usually the most common cause of erotomania is related to suffering from affective, organic-cerebral or schizophrenic disorders. This encourages in the person a mistaken perception of reality, as well as a misinterpretation of their experiences, which leads them to create a passionate delirium with anyone for whom they feel a fixation.
Erotomaniacal behaviors are linked to other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or paraphrenia.
The same. there are a number of risk factors that can favor the origin of this strange disorder. The most important are social isolation and extreme loneliness, sexual inhibitions and the consumption of toxic substances like drugs and alcohol.
The typical epidemiology of this condition focuses mainly on single women, with extreme loneliness and over 30 years of age, but there are also cases of erotomania in men with the same characteristics.
Clinical features of erotomania
Although, due to its uniqueness, there is not much current scientific literature on erotomania, a number of common features in patients who have it. These characteristics are:
1. A delirium common to all patients
Unlike most delusional disorders, erotomania the fundamental delirium of all patients is that another person is in love with them.
2. It can be recurring
During the development of the disorder, the patient you can be convinced that the same person is in love with him for a long time, The oldest known case recorded dates back to 37 years; or, the patient can alternate between different people, who are replaced by each other in similar delusions.
3. Illusionary communication with the other person
During his delusions, the patient is convinced that the other person, the center of his delirium, is communicating with him through hidden messages, signals and strange touches or gestures that the patient interprets in any way. .
4. Blame the other
In many cases, the patient is convinced and perseveres with the idea that the other person is the one who initiated the contact or the one who started the “love affair”.
5. Higher social status of the other person
As a general rule, the target of the patient’s delusions is usually a person of higher social or economic status, Affecting even celebrities, politicians, etc.
6. Construction of strange theories
As with many other delusional disorders, the patient constructs a series of strange theories which allow him to remain in his delirium, being more and more complicated as the person object of the delirium denies or categorically rejects the ideas or the approaches of the other.
7. There is no need for real contact
The person at the center of the patient’s delirium does not need to be someone they know firsthand. Likewise, this person may be totally oblivious to the patient’s intentions or thoughts or on the contrary end up being tormented by the patient’s constant attempts to come into contact with him.
A person affected by erotomania can reach try to contact each other obsessively through phone calls, mail or email, or even criminal harassment.
Treatment and prognosis
Although most people with this disorder rarely reach mental health services, erotomania requires psychotherapeutic intervention. in line with the treatment of delusional disorders.
To date, these treatments involve 1 both psychological and pharmacological approach, In which psychologists and doctors must coordinate and work to improve the mental health of the patient.
Although the intervention may undergo some change depending on the severity or disposition of the delirium, psychological therapy aims to place the patient in reality, also aided by pharmacological therapy through administration of antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants that of drug optimization.
It should be noted that if the intervention in patients with erotomania succeeds in reducing the delirium in love, in at least 50% of cases, it usually does not disappear completely, constituting a chronic disease.
The John Hinckley Jr.
One of the most famous cases of erotomania, which eventually gained worldwide fame, is that of John Hinckley Jr. which took place in 1981. During his love affair, Hinckley ended up committing an assassination attempt against US President Ronald Reagan.
After the failed assassination attempt, he stated that her motivation was to dazzle the famous actress Jodie Foster, For which he felt an obsession derived from his erotomaniac delirium. The central idea of Hinckley’s delirium was that President Reagan’s assassination would cause the actress to publicly declare her love for him.
Prior to the president’s assassination attempt, Hinckley had previously exercised obsessive and persecuting conduct on the actress through constant phone calls, letters, and sudden appearances in every location the actress was in.
Eventually, Hinckley was acquitted of a psychological disorder charge and was admitted to a mental institution.