The aim of this paper is to help clinicians better understand how erotomania originates in order to facilitate treatment and make it more effective. Data sources are the narratives of six women who spoke in detail about the beginnings of their delusional beliefs and about the nature of the evidence that convinced them that their beliefs were well-founded. In every case, low self-esteem and emotional arousal preceded the emergence of the delusion. Misperceptions and misattributions appeared responsible for keeping the delusion alive. Despite external disconfirmation, social isolation protected the delusional beliefs from revision and extinction. The erotomanic delusion provided a sense of well-being that probably contributed to its maintenance. As well, a delusion-induced boost in well-being delayed help-seeking. Recommendations for treatment include staged interventions, first establishing a therapeutic alliance with a focus on understanding the psychological factors contributing to the origin and maintenance of the delusion. The next stage is the provision of social support and strategies directed at the restoration of self-esteem. The third stage is the gradual introduction of techniques to correct cognitive biases. Medication and risk management form an integral part of overall management. Objective evidence for the effectiveness of this approach is, however, not yet available.
Psychiatric Quarterly – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2015
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