Volume 47, Issue 4 (July 2002)
De Clérambault's Syndrome (Erotomania) and Claims of Psychiatric Malpractice
De Clérambault's Syndrome or Erotomania was originally described as a delusional disorder in which a woman believes that an older man of higher social status is passionately in love with her. The patient's relentless pursuit of the delusional love object, often with escalating intrusiveness, may eventually involve threats or overt acts of retaliation, in response to repeated rejection, unrequited love, or alleged betrayal. Cases from the literature are reviewed in which the delusional romantic attachment involves the patient's psychiatrist or another medical specialist. The authors present a case involving a patient suffering from erotomania who develops a delusional fixation on her psychiatrist and, after her advances are repeatedly rejected, sues him for malpractice, alleging she had a sexual relationship with him in the course of treatment. The implications of the litigious paranoid, who uses the legal system to act out delusional concerns and retaliatory fantasies, are discussed. This is the first known case of an erotomanic patient claiming malpractice on the grounds that her psychiatrist had a sexual relationship with her.