Erotomania is listed as a subtype of a delusional disorder.
It is a relatively uncommon paranoid condition that is characterised by an individual's delusions of another person being infatuated with them. This disorder is most often seen (though not exclusively) in female patients that are shy, dependent and sexually inexperienced.
The object of the delusion is typically a male who is unattainable due to high social or financial status, marriage or disinterest. The object of obsession may also be imaginary, deceased or someone the patient has never met. Delusions of reference are common, as the erotomanic individual often perceives that they are being sent messages from the secret admirer through innocuous events such as seeing license plates from specific states. Commonly, the onset of erotomania is sudden, and the course is chronic.
Erotomania may present as a primary mental disorder, or as a symptom of another psychiatric illness. With secondary erotomania, the erotomanic delusions are due to other mental disorders such as bipolar I disorder or schizophrenia. Symptoms may also be precipitated by alcoholism and the use of antidepressants. There may be a potential genetic component involved as family histories of first degree relatives with histories of psychiatric disorders are common.
Sigmund Freud explained erotomania as a defense mechanism to ward off homosexual impulses which can lead to strong feelings of paranoia, denial, displacement and projection. Similarly, it has been explained as a way to cope with severe loneliness or ego deficit following a major loss. Erotomania may also be linked to unsatiated urges dealing with homosexuality or narcissism.