Erotomania: Wikis


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Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person, usually a stranger, 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.[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.



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 "old maid's psychosis", "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"


The core symptom of the disorder is that the sufferer holds an unshakable belief that another person is secretly in love with him or her. In some cases, the sufferer may believe several people at once are "secret admirers." The sufferer may also experience other types of delusions concurrently with erotomania, such as delusions of reference, wherein the perceived admirer secretly communicates his or her love by subtle methods such as body posture, arrangement of household objects, and other seemingly innocuous acts (or, if the person is a public figure, through clues in the media). Erotomanic delusions are typically found as the primary symptom of a delusional disorder or in the context of schizophrenia and may be treated with atypical antipsychotics.

Historical examples

The assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. was reported to have been driven by an erotomanic delusion that the death of the president would cause actress Jodie Foster to publicly declare her love for Hinckley.

Late night TV presenter David Letterman and retired astronaut Story Musgrave were both stalked by Margaret Mary Ray.

In popular culture

Examples of de Clerambault's syndrome (erotomania) in fiction include Ian McEwan's novel Enduring Love,[4] and the French films Anna M. (2007) and Laetitia Colombani's À la folie... pas du tout (2002), starring Audrey Tautou.

The band Dream Theater has a song titled "Erotomania", which is the first of a three part suite titled A Mind Beside Itself.

The condition of erotomania formed the basis of the plot for the episodes "Somebody's Watching" and "Broken Mirror" of the television series Criminal Minds.

Erotomania also formed the basis of the plot of the 2006 film Borat. Throughout the film, Borat travels from Khazakstan in an attempt to find his "love" pahmeela anderson. At the end of the film, when Borat finds pahmeela, he attempts to kidnap her in a large burlap bag [5].

See also



  1. ^ Remington GJ, Jeffries JJ (July 1994). "Erotomanic delusions and electroconvulsive therapy: a case series". J Clin Psychiatry 55 (7): 306–8. PMID 8071292. 
  2. ^ a b Anderson CA, Camp J, Filley CM (1998). "Erotomania after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: case report and literature review". J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 10 (3): 330–7. PMID 9706541. 
  3. ^ Berrios GE, Kennedy N. (2002). Erotomania: a conceptual history. History of Psychiatry. Dec;13(52 Pt 4):381-400. pmid=12638595
  4. ^ McEwan,Enduring love(1997) which was later turned into a film also called Enduring Love (2004). New York: Anchor.
  5. ^


  • Berrios GE, Kennedy N (December 2002). "Erotomania: a conceptual history". History of Psychiatry 13 (52 Pt 4): 381–400. PMID 12638595. 
  • Fitzgerald P., Seeman M.V. (2002). "Erotomania in women". in Sheridan, Lorraine; Boon, Julian. Stalking and psychosexual obsession: Psychological perspectives for prevention, policing, and treatment. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-49459-3. 
  • Giannini AJ, Slaby AE, Robb TO (February 1991). "De Clérambault's syndrome in sexually experienced women". The Journal of clinical psychiatry 52 (2): 84–6. PMID 1993641. 
  • Kennedy N, McDonough M, Kelly B, Berrios GE (2002). "Erotomania revisited: clinical course and treatment". Compr Psychiatry 43 (1): 1–6. PMID 11788912. 
  • Munro, Alistair (1999). Delusional disorder: Paranoia and related illnesses. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-58180-X. 

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