Erotomania: When a person truly believes that a stranger is in love with them

Erotomania: When a Person Truly Believes That a Stranger Is in Love With Them

  • Erotomania is a rare delusion which makes a person believe that a stranger is in love with them despite all the evidence.
  • Gerald Atkins believed that a women, who barely knew him, was not able to respond to his love because the auto plant she worked at the time plotted against it; his response was a massacre.

American writer Theodor Seuss Geisel said that you know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. But sometimes love is one-sided, and triggers hate which makes people do unthinkable.

Most of the crimes committed are so-called crimes of passion - violent crime, usually murder, in which the perpetrator acts on behalf of sudden strong impulse such as rage rather than as a premeditated crime. Such as the case of O. J. Simpson and Nicole Brown.

But sometimes the beloved one may not even be aware of the admirer’s strong romantic affection. Erotomania is a type of delusion, usually occurring during psychosis, in which the affected person believes that another individual, usually a stranger, is in love with them. Particularly for men, need to possess and conquer former lovers is common. One out of twelve American women will be stalked in her lifetime. Erotomania, on the other hand, is a rare mental illness, which involves stalking and having delusions, which makes stalkers with erotomania extremely dangerous.

Gerald Atkins & Erotomania

In 1996, a Michigan man named Gerald Atkins was crazy about Debra Myers. To confirm their love, he bought Debra an engagement ring. Atkins was confident they will marry and live happily together. But Debra was unaware of Atkins’ plans – in fact, she even didn’t even know his last name.

The difference between misguided love and erotomania is that in the face of the evidence, you without a doubt believe that the other party loves you.

The two met at a bar, where Debra made it clear she had romantical interest. In turn, Atkins was convinced that the enemies are interfering their love, and this is the sole reason for her resistance. At the time, she was working in Ford auto plant in Wixom.

Atkins’ delusions convinced him that the Ford’s political action committee and its workers were behind the conspiracy that ruled out the possibility of being with Debra. He decided to massacre them.

He broke into the auto plant and terrorized employees for five hours by firing hundreds of rounds. He killed the supervisor and wounded three other people, including two sheriff’s deputies.

When police arrested Atkins and started the interrogation, it became clear he was an obsessive stalker, egocentric and very paranoid.

Talking to the investigators, he confessed:

Atkins: I met a women I fell in love with and…

Police: Was it reciprocal?

Atkins: Yes it was.

Atkins: The problem was, she was not able to respond. There was fear on her part.

Atkins: She wasn’t afraid of me, she was afraid of something else.

Police: Did you ever figure it out?

Atkins: Yes I did. She was afraid of ranking file. And Ford’s political action committee.

Police: Was any of this mean to be a statement of your feelings for her, love for her?

Police: A proof?

Atkins: Yes it was.

Debra Myers announced he didn’t know the man and wouldn’t even call him an acquittance.

Atkins’ defense attorney did not dispute he did the shooting but argued he was delusional. Jury rejected the insanity appeal, and Atkins received life in prison without the possibility of parole - the mandatory sentence for murder in the State of Michigan.

At the sentencing, he apologized to the killed plants managers family but didn’t accept the responsibility for the crime committed. “Bloodshed may be needed to effect change,” was his response.

Gerald Myers and Debra Myers
Gerald Atkins at the courtroom.
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