Erotomania: definition, symptoms, characteristics and treatment
Romantic love, or the feeling of being in love with another person, is one of the most turbulent and agitating experiences of the state of mind that a person can live. Love can alter and transform the way a person thinks, speaks and behaves, and can become an immense source of well-being when it is reciprocated.
However, what happens when a person becomes obsessed with the idea that the other is also in love with him when, however, the reality is different? This alteration of thought is known as erotomania , and in it the person is fully convinced that his love is reciprocated, even if there is no proof of it.
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What is erotomania?
Erotomania is a strange way of Paranoid delirium currently classified as delusional disorder erotomaniac type . 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 possesses a series of romantic emotions towards the patient are completely unfounded, since, in addition, in most cases the actual contact that exists between these two people is practically nil.
Also, this delirium brings Stalking behaviors towards the other person , feelings of hope or longing for the other and, when the other does not respond, ends up leading to a deep resentment towards it.
The patient may come to believe that there is a kind of invisible and mystical communication between the two, blaming the other for sending him signals of love or provoking these beliefs.
This disorder, traditionally known as Clerambault Syndrome, was widely described by this French psychiatrist in 1921 in his treatise Les Psychoses Passionelles.
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Usually, the most common cause of erotomania is related to the suffering of affective, organic-cerebral or schizophrenic disorders . Which foster in the person an erroneous perception of reality, as well as a misinterpretation of their experiences, which leads to create a passionate delirium with anyone for whom you feel a fixation.
Erotomaniac behaviors are related to other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or paraphrenia.
Likewise. There are a number of risk factors that may favor the origin of this strange disorder. The most important are social isolation and extreme loneliness, sexual inhibitions and the consumption of toxic substances as drugs and alcohol.
The typical epidemiology of this condition is mainly focused on single women, with extreme loneliness and over 30 years of age, however there are also records of erotomania in men with the same characteristics.
Clinical characteristics of erotomania
Although, due to its uniqueness, there is not much current scientific literature on erotomania, you can see a series of common characteristics in patients who suffer from it . These characteristics are:
1. A common delirium for all patients
Unlike most delirious disorders, in erotomania the basic delirium of all patients is that another person is in love with them .
2. It can be recurrent
During the development of the disorder, the patient can be convinced that the same person is in love with him for a long period of time , the most known registered case has been 37 years; or alternatively, the patient can alternate different people, which are replaced by others in similar delusions.
3. Illusionary communication with the other person
During his delusions the patient is convinced that the other person, center of his delirium, communicates with him through hidden messages, strange signals and keys or gestures that the patient interprets in any way.
4. Culpabilization of the other
In a large number of cases, the patient has the conviction and perseveres in the idea that the other person was the one who initiated the contact or the one who started the "love affair".
5. Greater social status of the other person
As a general rule, the target of the patient's delusions is usually a person of a higher social or economic status , even affecting famous people, politicians, etc.
6. Construction of strange theories
As in many other delirious disorders, the patient constructs a series of strange theories that allow him to stay in his delirium, being more and more complicated according to the person object of the delirium denies or flatly rejects the ideas or approaches of the other.
7. There does not have to be a real contact
The person center of the delirium of the patient does not have to be someone that he knows firsthand. Likewise, said person may completely ignore the patient's intentions or thoughts or, on the contrary, end up tormented by the patient's constant attempts to contact him or her.
A person affected by erotomania can reach try to contact obsessively with the other by phone calls, postal or electronic mail or even by stalking.
Treatment and prognosis
Although most people who suffer from this disorder rarely reach mental health services, erotomania requires a psychotherapeutic intervention in tune with the treatments for delirious disorders .
To this day, these treatments involve a 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 delirium, psychological therapy aims to settle the patient in reality, also helping pharmacological therapy through the administration of antipsychotic medication, of antidepressants or of mood stabilizing drugs.
It is necessary to point out that although the intervention in patients with erotomania manages to reduce the delirium of love, at least in 50% of cases, it does not usually disappear completely, constituting a chronic condition.
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The John Hinckley Jr. case
One of the most renowned cases of erotomania, which ended up becoming famous worldwide was that of John Hinckley Jr. occurred in 1981. During his love delirium, Hinckley ended up committing an assassination attempt on US President Ronald Reagan .
After the failed assassination attempt, he stated that his motivation was to dazzle the well-known actress Jodie Foster , for which he felt an obsession derived from his erotomaniac delirium. The central idea of Hinckley's delirium was that the assassination of President Reagan would cause the actress to declare publicly his love for him.
Before the attack on the president, Hinckley had already carried out obsessive and persecutory behaviors to the actress through constant telephone calls, letters and sudden appearances in all those places where the actress was.
Finally, Hinckley was exculpated through the allegation of psychological disorders and was admitted to a psychiatric center.