A Life of Erotomania
> 6/20/2007 9:59:23 AM

In an ongoing effort to present the experiences of those living with mental illness, we present an entry from a TOL member who sheds some light on her struggle with erotomania, an issue that is poorly understood in therapy.  K's bipolar disorder is stabilized with medication, but unresolved issues of course remain.  Here, she embarks on a coming to terms with the root causes of her erotomania, and sees hope for the future. Thank you K for this amazingly insightful post.

Dr. Hapworth

Hope for Emergence: A Life of Erotomania

From the time of my adolescence through to my present age of 50, I have painful memories of struggling with one dependency after another, a struggle that I now understand as a variation on erotomania. Erotomania is defined in several ways, but chiefly it is the false but persistent belief that one is loved by a person, or the pathologically obsessive pursuit of a disinterested object of love. My behavior falls into the latter category. 

Lately, I feel that I am coming to develop insights around the subject of this struggle. Houses figure largely in my dreams, as do the rooms in them, and in one especially charged dream, doors are a prominent subject. These houses with their myriad rooms represent a search for comfort in my own house, in my own body, and as I open more doors, I have a sense that I am on the verge of understanding more about how the erotomania has shaped my life, and how I may emerge from it truly successful in all I hope yet to accomplish.

Erotomania in its most severe form contains a strongly delusional component, and while the variant I've experienced does not rise to that level, I can't say that I have been free from delusions, either. In many cases, I have believed at least that the person enjoyed being pursued, or that he wanted to reciprocate, but was prevented from doing so by some circumstance not related to me personally. Occasionally, I feared that the person was repulsed by me, but could never believe it deep down.

Through hard work, I am coming to have some understanding of the function of this struggle in my life, both the real damage it has wrought, and the harm, real or imagined, that I continue to inflict on myself and others out of the simple fear that it will occur again. The struggle is a lonely one funded by long-held feelings of isolation and disease that arise in my earliest recollections, narratives that are populated not with people, but with things. 

My earliest memories recall isolative experiences in which adults and healthy attachments were largely absent. The end of adolescence was marked by three suicide attempts in fairly quick succession starting at age 17. By my junior year in high school, I was already feeling the continuous sting of an obsession that played itself out minute by minute in agonizing waiting, writing, hoping, all ending in discouragement. Much later, during a psychiatric hospitalization, I would communicate to the object of the obsession some of the desperation I was feeling during those years, linking it not to his lack of response to me but to something more deeply disturbing within myself. Looking back, my attentions must caused a considerable conundrum for him, as it became apparent to me that he had been gay. 

It has not been unusual for my pursuits to involve men who, for whatever reason, were unavailable or seemed highly likely to be unresponsive or withdrawn from me. In this regard, they have often borne a resemblance to my father, who was a workaholic interested in nothing much beyond his job, virtually disregarding my sister and me for all of our youthful lives. Yet, as with my father, I persevered in these hoped-for relationships. My identification with the object of the pursuits was extreme; I felt I knew what it was like to actually be them -- that I could feel their feelings, and the extent of the difficulty they had trying to keep their feelings for me under wraps.

The connections I feel now are mostly tenuous and fearful, fraught with the worry (even with women) that too strong an identification may signal the beginning of a new obsession. I worry inordinately that every infatuation, fantasy or mere feeling of interest is, or is going to lead to, erotomania. Similar to the way erotomania stood in place of healthy relationships for me during all those decades, now my very fear of it stands in the way of populating the rooms in my house with people, and of feeling connected to them in life. The difference now is that I hold out the hope that psychotherapy will finally be the key to establishing that connection in a healthy way. 


The downward spiral of being an erotomaniac merits Hell: Difficulties or inability in building intimate relations - Deep sense of isolation - Leaving reality in search of intimate relations - Failure and even greater difficulties in building intimate relations...
Posted by: Momchil Tanchev 6/21/2007 7:36:32 AM

I have encountered a case of a very deeply disturbed person who is also,it would seem an erotomaniac.She believes a doctor she briefly worked with is in love with her, and has some kind of problem expressing it, though he left her place of work many months ago without giving her any forwarding address.She then wrote him a note, asking to meet and did not hear back, now fantasises that she will meet him again.She becomes hostile or abusive if told that the person may not be the "one " for her, and spends much of her time visiting spiritual healers etc, getting various stories from them about their eventual re- meeting.He is in a higher social and financial bracket, has elevation in status to her,and has never actually expressed any interest.She blames other people especially women for her frustration, and believes that because she feels so strongly he must be the one.Her father is obssessive and her mother distant.She is very unlikely to either acknowledge or admit that she needs help.However, if the doctor had told her straight out he was not interested, he may have at least prevented some of this from happening.Ignoring these people does not seem to be the help they need
Posted by: jenny 4/27/2008 12:57:19 PM

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