[Skip to Navigation]
December 1975

Erotomania or de Clérambault Syndrome

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(12):1574-1576. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760300112010

• De Clérambault focused attention on a syndrome in which a woman has the delusional belief that a man, usually of higher social status and considerably older, is much in love with her. If the patient's romantic ideas shaped private fantasies instead of determined public behavior, there would be little cause for concern. The situation becomes critical when the fantasies are dramatized in real life with an unsuspecting and usually unwilling man cast in the role of the lover. The woman dwells on the feelings she ascribes to her "suitor."

Such delusional thinking, resulting from an ego defect and producing bizarre actions, may be shaped largely by feelings of being unloved or even unloveable; a narcissistic blow is overcome by a grandiose fantasy. Cases in which erotomania is prominent are usually diagnosed as paranoid state or paranoid schizophrenia.