Erotomania Mental Illness
Erotomania, or Clérambault syndrome, is the term used to designate imaginary lovers. Fortunately very rare, it mainly affects women. How to explain this pathological passion? Can we get out of it?
It is a pathological passion that mainly affects women, even if cases of erotomania also exist in men. It’s not just the desire to be loved or nymphomania, it’s a delusional belief related to misinterpreting the signs of love.
Erotomania is a form of delusional disorder. In this mental illness, a person imagines that someone else is in love with him or her, “harbors” romantic feelings (the person doesn’t love them back), or is open to romantic rapprochement, when in reality this is not the case. In most cases, it concerns someone with a high(er) social status (the boss, a movie star, a politician, doctor, etc.). The condition has traditionally been referred to as Clérambault’s syndrome, after the French psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault (1872-1934).
Erotomania is a delusional psychological disorder characterized by the belief in an individual that he is loved by another. It takes a haunting form that generally focuses on an initially unknown individual, or even a public figure. This conviction results in the erotomaniac by a form of harassment to provoke the meeting and to make confess the other on his supposed feelings. If this fictitious love is not declared, the erotomaniac person can give in to depression, then to resentment and aggression. This disorder mainly affects women.
What is the opposite of erotomania?
The extreme opposite of erotomania is paranoia, a mental disorder that manifests itself in an exaggerated distrust of others, the negative interpretation of the slightest word, suspicion or even aggression. The paranoid person feels constantly persecuted, he has the impression that he is being harmed.
Erotomania, a characterized sexuality disorder
Erotomania is a real pathology of a psychiatric order. This disorder of sexuality results in the deep conviction, wrongly, of being loved. The erotomaniac is often a woman. As for the person who is the object of one-sided love, it is generally a being whose social or professional functions are considered in the common mind as superior: a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer or even a public figure – politician in particular – or a celebrity – famous writer, fashionable singer …
More than a passing infatuation of a teenager for her/his favorite star, whose portrait she displays on the walls of her bedroom, erotomania is a real mental illness, the consequences of which – from which the erotomaniac but also the loved one suffers – are not negligible.
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The current state of psychiatry does not allow the causes of erotomania to be detected with certainty. This sexuality disorder, like many others, could nevertheless be explained by an emotional deprivation experienced during childhood – at least in part.
“The cause of erotomania is a narcissistic non-recognition by the parents. It is very complicated because it also comes first and foremost from the personality of the parents. When we have a normal relationship with them, they hug us. , kisses, they show us interest. But if a woman or men has never had physical or emotional attention from her parents, she will interpret the slightest little attention as sexual desire. A platonic relationship is then made and that does him a lot of good. Very often, they are children from a toxic family in which they have just received the bare minimum to get by. For example, the parents were alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.”.
The erotomaniac has the delusional conviction of being loved by someone. She will imagine that all her gestures, words, likes on social networks, are proof of the love that the other sends her. With many arguments, she will try to demonstrate to those around her that she is living a beautiful love story.
Hope, spite, resentment: the phases of the erotomaniac episode
A delusional illusion of being loved, erotomania follows a progression in several phases: hope, spite then resentment. In any case, an erotomaniac episode must be triggered.
The triggers of passionate delirium
The passionate delirium of the erotomaniac necessarily takes its origin in a word or a behavior on the initiative of the person object of unrequited love. This person, involuntarily, addresses the erotomaniac in such a way that the latter interprets the words or actions of his interlocutor as proof of a very intense love. It is therefore the victim who, in the mind of the erotomaniac, is at the origin of the illusory love story. Thus persuaded to be loved, the erotomaniac implements the means to perpetuate the link and make effective the fantasy love story, lasting and one-sided, which necessarily ends in a failure with more or less important consequences.
The hope phase of the erotomania episode
For a long time, the erotomania pushes the person who suffers from it to multiply the attempts of amorous exchanges with the loved one. Sending letters, an insistent presence by his side in everyday life, acts of love, the erotomaniac multiplies the connections through behaviors that can quickly be assimilated to harassment. In the absence of return, the erotomaniac keeps hope and finds explanations: the victim prefers to remain discreet about his love, it is an erotic game that she sets up… But after a while, the time or the categorical manifestation of the loved one leads to spite, the second stage of the cycle of erotomania.
Grudge, a destructive feeling
Once the phase of spite has passed, during which the erotomaniac realizes that love is not shared, he feels a deep disappointment which leads him to resentment. He is angry with the other for making him believe he was in love and feels the need for revenge. His behavior can then turn out to be violent: physical attacks, threats or even material destruction.
“There is no specific test to perform but the diagnosis is not difficult to make. We realize this when the patient comes to consult and talks to us. She invents a world for herself and most time, the person with whom she is in love does not even know it “, indicates the psychologist.
“The treatment consists in teaching the erotomaniac patient what self-esteem represents, what it means to have been loved, listened to and understood by her parents”.
Erotomania treatment solutions
Erotomania is prejudicial to the person who is affected by it, on a personal level – depression following the phase of spite – and in terms of justice – removal measures against him or even imprisonment in the event of a serious attack on him. the loved one.
Under these conditions, it is urgent to undertake medical treatment: solutions based on psychotherapy or drug treatments exist to help erotomania.
How to react to an erotomaniac?
Erotomania is a risky sexual disorder for the person who is the object of obsessive love. Since erotomania is pathological, there is no point in trying to deal with it alone. The victim, on the contrary, must speak to the right people and surround himself with the right people.
At first, he can be resorted to justice, to protect himself against the violent outbursts of the erotomaniac. In a second step, it is possible to consider referring the erotomaniac to competent psychiatric health services.
History of Erotomania
Early references to the condition can be found in the work of Hippocrates, Freud (1911), G.G. de Clérambault (1942), Erasistratus, Plutarch and Galen. Parisian physician, Bartholomy Pardoux (1545-1611) covered the topics of nymphomania and erotomania. In 1623, erotomania was referred to in a treatise by Jacques Ferrand (Maladie d’amour ou Mélancolie érotique) and has been called “erotic paranoia” and “erotic self-referent delusion” until the common usage of the terms erotomania and de Clérambault’s syndrome. In 1971 and 1977, M.V. Seeman referred to the disorder as “phantom lover syndrome” and “psychotic erotic transference reaction and delusional loving”. Emil Kraepelin and Bernard also wrote of erotomania and more recently, Winokur, Kendler, and Munro have contributed to knowledge on the disorder.
G. E. Berrios and N. Kennedy outlined in ‘Erotomania: a conceptual history’ (2002) several periods of history through which the definition of erotomania has changed considerably:
Classical times – early eighteenth century: General disease caused by unrequited love
Early eighteenth-beginning of 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”
In one case, erotomania was reported in a patient who had undergone surgery for a ruptured cerebral aneurysm (pathologically permanent enlargement of the cross-section or a balloon-shaped bulging of a cerebral artery.
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