February 25, 2010

Erotomania Psychological Disorder

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Erotomania comes under the classification of psychological disorders known as fregoli delusion. This disorder was named after the famous Italian actor from yesteryear, Leopoldo Fregoli. People who suffer from this disorder have a propensity to believe that people who are familiar to them disguise themselves as other people.

One of the subsets of Fregoli delusion is de Clerambault’s syndrome, where a person deludes himself into thinking that another person, usually of higher social standing and invariably famous, is in love with them. This belief is so deep-seated that when the object of their desire tells them that they do not have any such feelings, it is taken as the famous person’s desire to keep the relationship secret.

The delusions are mainly of an erotic nature and have therefore been variously classified as erotic paranoia and erotic self-referent delusions; medically, it is termed, erotomania. The term ‘erotomania’ is invariably confused with obsessive love or hypersexuality. However, nothing can be further from the truth. Although the delusions itself can take any form, the nature of the disorder is such that people feel others sometimes more than one are in love with them.


Since erotomania is a psychiatric disorder, it is very difficult to diagnose, especially because of the nature of this disorder, it is easy to dismiss them as cranks or storytellers rather than someone with a medical problem. Only a well-trained psychiatrist will be able to evaluate and identify this problem. The only external erotomania symptoms will be a delusion that a famous personality is emotionally attached to them.

There have been a number of noted cases of erotomania, and because of the patient’s capacity to explain everything that the other person does, even small inconsequential body gestures, words, the kind of automobile used, and even the way they keep the house, will be taken as proof of reciprocation of their affections. In fact, many people have been known to write letters and be in touch constantly with the other person, although they do not receive any response.

Most of these delusions follow a pattern where a famous person or persons have clandestine meetings with the patient. The famous personality is invariably disguised and is supposed to pass messages to them either via the media or in some other small, inconsequential and perfectly normal seeming manner.

The delusion of these meetings is invariably of an erotic nature, and in many cases the delusions are almost a parallel life for the public figure. The reasons for these delusions are not known, although there are cases where a certain amount of truth has been found.

For example, one particular patient who suffered an injury to her head suffered delusions with regards to her cousin. It was subsequently found that the lady had had a prior relationship with her cousin and that her only child was a product of this relationship. As to whether her conviction about the emotional attachment of her cousin was the result of this relationship, or the injury to her head is however not known.


Studies have been conducted into the nature of this disorder, and although a few very relevant details have emerged, like all other psychiatric problems, the exact cause is not known. For example, there have been cases where people with psychiatric problems since a very early age have displayed erotomania, while in other cases, perfectly normal people have started getting these delusions after an injury to the right cerebral hemisphere.

Also, many people with erotomania also display a less than standard ability to recognize faces, although their ability to recognize voices or names does not changed. The significance of this data is not known, although many psychiatrists feel that a malfunction in the right hemisphere in the brain causes these delusions. In fact, many cases of schizophrenia are actually erotomania that has been misdiagnosed.


Normal psychiatric medication is known to be effective in treating the illness, although there is no long-term cure as such. Owing to the rare nature of this disorder, it has not been specifically studied, and the only literature available is with regards to cases that have come up during the course of normal medical practice. As of now, there is no specific method to treat this disorder, and only general psychiatric medication is used.

Consequences Of Erotomania

The consequences of this disorder are not known, although there are a couple of noteworthy cases.

  • John Hinckley Jr. is supposed to have attempted to assassinate President Ronald Regan because of an erotomaniac delusion to Jodie Foster.
  • Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by Robert John Bardo, who supposedly suffered from erotomania.
  • David Letterman and former astronaut Story Musgrave were stalked by Margret Mary Ray, who was suspected to suffer from erotomania.