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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: De Clerambaults Syndrome / Erotomania

 nlel - Wed Apr 23, 2008 8:02 am


I am 32 male from UK and have recurrent / secondary De Clerambaults Syndrome. I first noticed the problem when I was about 9 or 10 when I was "in love" with a exceptionally attractive girl in my class, this then occured throughout my teens into adulthood where my love objects would transfer to someone new once all contact had been lost.

My love objects were people I had very little actual contact with, perhaps they were in my class at school, or at a nightclub I regularly visited or at my place of work I had almost no meaningfull contact with them untill I started acting upon my delusions.

At first I would keep my delusions private but over the years I got more and more frustrated that I didn't put more effort into following up on their percieved advances, and things came to a head in 2004 aged 28 when I started emailing my latest love object which came to the attention of the authorities and psychiatrists.

This is a recurring condition as I can be persuaded against acting out my delusions but it has to be my decision, I have to come to the point where I accept in my mind that there will never be a relationship with the love object and then I can forget about her and get on with my life relatively sanely - this point is reached only after a lot has already taken place to the contary as I will not rationilise when persuaded too as I don't really believe them.

My psychiatrist reckons I have De Clerambaults secondary to Schizophrenia but I am not so sure, I am taking Risperidone 25mg twice monthly so I suppose thats better then being unmedicated, the thing is I`m not sure that I won't stumble across another love object and become ill again, I am trying to change the way I think bearing in mind whats already taken place so this doesn't happen again but it might be something I can't control.

I did eventually have a psychotic breakdown in 2006 as a result of stressfull thoughts relating to the latest love object and heard a clear voice commenting for a short duration but up untill that point and since I`ve never heard another voice like it, the only voices I`ve ever heard are my own thoughts and I`m not psychotic as I still realise they are my voices.

In short I don't really believe I have ever been totally psychotic up untill the point at which I had a breakdown, I`m not sure the medication will work for me.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:20 pm

Hi nlel,

I am struck by your clarity and awareness of your condition, and it sounds like you are on the right track in working with a psychiatrist and taking Risperdal for your condition. Sometimes, when one has an episodic condition such as you may have, it's hard to know if the medication is working until an extended period of time passes. After that, you can see if the erotomanic episodes are less frequent, less intense, or you have more insight that the delusional thoughts are delusions, than you did in the past. Sometimes, people notice that they feel more "even" in their moods, their thoughts are clearer, and they function better in their lives.

In addition, it can take a few months for the Risperdal to build up in your body to reach a steady level, and the effects of the medication once it reaches a stable level also increases over a period of up to several months.

Furthermore, others might notice improvements that you may not be aware of fully. So, it can be helpful to ask people that you trust, your providers, family or friends, what changes they might notice. This can help you to appreciate what changes have occurred; they can also let you know, if appropriate for you, when you may be having the warning signs of another episode (we'll vote for no more of them!).

Once again, it sounds like you're on the right track! Good luck!

-Eliot Seigle MD
 nlel - Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:41 am

The only thing that worries me is whether it is a psychological condition which may be untreatable with medication or a psychiatric one which should respond well to medication, the thing is these delusions aren't bizarre becuase in our culture "falling in love" isn't seen as something bizarre, although I guess it is bizarre to have such irrational thoughts about a stranger.

What gives me hope that it is a psychiatric condition is that I did eventually have a recognisable psychotic episode as a result of stressfull thoughts whilst trying to come to terms with what happened in 2004, so maybe this condition is/was a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.

You see initially I don't feel my thoughts were at any time bizarre but then how would I know? when I had a "proper" psychotic breakdown I recognise that I had some really bizarre delusions & hullicinations and I really was wack-o. The De Clerambault's syndrome didn't make me go totally insane in the truely bizarre sense, I was just a bit "mad" about a stranger but could function "normally" aside from that of course I didn't and still don't recognise that I was mad, but I understand now its not normal to be like this.

I`m worried becuase a few months ago a student nurse visited the day centre where I sometimes attend, I was struck by her beauty and couldn't take my eyes off her, it was the same attraction I feel whenever one of these delusional episodes starts, at one point she sort of waved at me and I initially percieved that as a sign of interest, I just told myself it was all in my head and tried to ignore her but it was hard to do, I was surpressing my desires.

Now as she only came the once I soon forgot about her and nothing developed but I recognise the potential was there, when I become "ill" I am usually in a situation where I happen to be in the same place as the person quite regularly and I begin to anticipate seeing them, the delusion gains momentum untill the point at which I can't surpress my thoughts no longer.

At the moment becuase I stay at home a lot and do therapeutic work I don't often bump into anyone who has this effect on me so the chances of me ever getting really "ill" again are lowered but it could still happen, the only way I feel I can deal with it is to surpress my thoughts but I used to feel I was missing out on a great love opportunity by doing this, but now through expierience I realise I`m not missing out on anything - women who are this attractive always have plenty of friends/boyfriends so its not as if they need me.

The first step in dealing with any problem is to admit to yourself that you have a problem and I have done this, and I`m also recieving medication and support from a psychiatrist and I am trying to surpress the way I think although it will be difficult when I have nothing in my life which forfills my desires.
 nlel - Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:28 am

I`ve done some research into De Clerambaults Syndrome and everything I`ve read suggest its a paranoid disorder maybe linked to paranoid schizophrenia.

Now I`ve not really recognised whats happened to me as a form of paranoia untill now, but when I think about it I have expierienced anxiety when in the presense of these very attractive female strangers, this then could lead to a development of a form of paranoia. Even attractive male strangers can make me feel anxious but I don't develop erotomanic delusions about them becuase I`m not gay.

I always thought paranoia was when you had thoughts that people were trying to harm you ie it was always a negative expierience, the sort of paranioa I get is a pleasant one, who wouldn't want to imagine that an attractive female is in love with them, becuase of this I never realised it was paranoia.

Apart from this I've hardly ever expierienced paranoia which has severly disturbed my life but have had anxiety quite a lot throughout my life mainly in social situations. However the other day just after writing my last post I went for a walk and I got so far then a sensation came over me and after that I started feeling anxious and had to get home as quick as possible.

It was a sunny day and on the way back I started getting paranoid thoughts about people wearing dark glasses it seemed nearly everyone was wearing dark glasses and I`d never noticed this before, I tried to fend off these thoughts but continued to feel very anxious the whole way back, it seemed like things were happening that supported these thoughts, ie at one point a couple walked past and as they did so the women put her glasses on - it was like she did becuase of me.

I`m now really worried about this becuase I`ve never felt such bizarre and negative paranoia before although I have noticed in the last couple of years I have started getting a feeling of anxiety for no reason occasionally, before my huge breakdown I never expierienced this unless I was around attractive strangers.
 Dr. E. Seigle - Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:14 pm

Hi niel,

Is your psychiatrist also doing psychotherapy with you? Because it would be important for someone to do that with you as well as medication. this way, you can learn to try to distinguish between what might be delusional or over-the-top, and what might be genuine feelings of interest in someone. Your condition doesn't mean that you cannot have a partner, love relation, girlfriend, get married, etc. You may just need some help sorting through your reactions and feelings and such. Does that make sense?

Good luck!

-Eliot Seigle MD
 aworriedsisterHERE - Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:40 am

My sister has been diagnosed with De Clerambaults Syndrome / Erotomania 3 years ago.
She will not accept she has anything wrong with her.
... the things she does

1)wrights letters all the time then screws them up
2)weres sunglasses all the time
3)weres a hat all the time
4)thinks people on the tv are talking to her
5)thinks the music lyrics are a form of connection of talking to her
6)when hellicoptors go over there for her
7)being watched,spyed on all the time
8)thinks the house is bugged
9)now thinks she is going to get a big cash sum of money form the person who she is in love with
The list really does go on and on its getting very distressing to watch her now.
We have done everything we can for her but she refuses to take her medication and does not go to the psychitarist for help
I really do not know were to turn or go to get my sister some help

Thankyou for reading ..i hope you can come up with some ideas...
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:23 pm

Hello, aworriedsisterHERE,

I apologize for the late response to your concern. I hope information will be useful to you, despite how late it is.

Your sister's current symptoms don't seem to reflect her diagnosis as given three years ago. You didn't mention that she is convinced that someone, or many "someones", are in love with her, despite all evidence to the contrary or that such beliefs are affecting her behavior. The symptoms that you describe appear to be more characteristic of paranoia and/or a type of schizophrenia. It's often extremely difficult to convince someone with a severe psychiatric disorder of any kind to see a psychiatrist or psychologist for evaluation. It often happens that the person has a psychotic break and is hospitalized for psychiatric care before treatment can again be instituted. You can continue to urge her to see her psychiatrist, or a different psychiatrist or psychologist if she would prefer that approach. Reassure her of your care and concern, and your wish to help her feel better. Ask her psychiatrist or local public mental health agency for suggestions, and to clarify under what conditions you might compel her to be further evaluated. It can be helpful to see a therapist yourself, to help you cope with your sister's situation; family treatment can also be helpful.

I wish you all the best of luck.

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