Erotomania

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Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person, usually a stranger or famous person, is in love with him or her. The illness often occurs during psychosis, especially in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar mania.[1] In one case, erotomania was reported in a patient who had undergone surgery for a ruptured cerebral aneurysm.[2] During an erotomanic psychosis, the patient believes that a "secret admirer" is declaring his or her affection to the patient, often by special glances, signals, telepathy, or messages through the media. Usually the patient then returns the perceived affection by means of letters, phone calls, gifts, and visits to the unwitting recipient. Even though these advances are unexpected and unwanted, any denial of affection by the object of this delusional love is dismissed by the patient as a ploy to conceal the forbidden love from the rest of the world.[2]

The term erotomania is often confused with "obsessive love", obsession with unrequited love, or hypersexuality (see nymphomania). Obsessive love is not erotomania by definition.

Erotomania is also called de Clérambault's syndrome, after the French psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault (1872–1934), who published a comprehensive review paper on the subject (Les Psychoses Passionelles) in 1921.

Contents

History

Early references to the condition can be found in the work of Hippocrates, Erasistratus, Plutarch and Galen. In the psychiatric literature it was first referred to in 1623 in a treatise by Jacques Ferrand (Maladie d'amour ou Mélancolie érotique) and has been variously called, "erotic paranoia" and "erotic self-referent delusions" until the common usage of the terms erotomania and de Clérambault's syndrome.

G.E. Berrios and N. Kennedy outlined in 'Erotomania: a conceptual history' (2002)[3] several periods of history through which the concept of erotomania has changed considerably:

  • Classical times – early eighteenth century: General disease caused by unrequited love
  • Early eighteenth – beginning nineteenth century: Practice of excess physical love (akin to nymphomania or satyriasis)
  • Early nineteenth century – beginning twentieth century: Unrequited love as a form of mental disease
  • Early twentieth century – present: Delusional belief of "being loved by someone else"

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