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‘Confirmation’ Fact Check: Is ‘Erotomania’ Really a Thing?

The most bizarre accusation hurled at Anita Hill involved the claim she imagined Clarence Thomas was in love with her — but is it a real mental disorder?

(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read this if you haven’t yet seen the HBO movie “Confirmation.”)

In one of the most shocking scenes during HBO’s “Confirmation,” Missouri Sen. John Danforth (played by Bill Irwin) accuses Anita Hill (Kerry Washington) of suffering from a condition called “Erotomania,” a delusion in which a person thinks that someone, usually of higher social status, is in love with them.

Danforth, Hill’s leading critic on the Senate Judiciary Committee, found an effective way to discredit Hill’s claims, essentially branding her a stalker.

Though the condition sounds contrived, it’s actually quite real. The term can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of all psychological afflictions, under “Delusional Disorders.”

The psychiatrist who offered the theory to conservatives on the Judiciary Committee was a doctor by the name of Park Dietz.

While in the movie his character is portrayed as sketchy at best, in reality Dietz was regarded as “America’s best-known forensic psychiatrist,” according to a 1993 article by the Los Angeles Times. Dietz was the FBI’s premier shrink, helping agents catch high-profile serial killers. His cases included Jeffrey Dahmer and John Hinckley Jr.

Of course, whether Hill suffered from it — or it was simply used to discredit her — is another issue entirely.