Adéle Hugo and Adéle Syndrome

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Adéle Hugo was a Frenchwoman who lived in the 19th century. She was the daughter of famed writer Victor Hugo. Adéle suffered from a mental illness that was diagnosed as “Adéle Syndrome.” It is also known as Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD). 

This syndrome is named after her because she was one of the first documented cases. The illness caused her to act out sexually and exhibit other erratic behavior. 

While there is not much known about this syndrome, it provides insight into how mental illnesses were viewed in the past. It also serves as a reminder that every person suffering from a mental illness is unique and should be treated with compassion.

Who Was Adéle Hugo?

adéle syndrome

Adèle Hugo was Victor Hugo’s fifth and youngest child. She is notable for having been diagnosed with schizophrenia while in her twenties, which resulted in a passionate love affair with a British military man who rejected her. Her tale has been adapted for film and literature, including François Truffaut’s 1975 film The Story of Adèle H.

Adèle Hugo was the youngest of Victor and Adèle Hugo’s six children, born in Paris to France’s most famous writer. Adèle played the piano and was known for her beauty and her long, dark hair. She has sat for numerous well-known Parisian artists. Victor Hugo was forced into political exile in 1851, and the family emigrated to the island of Jersey. The Hugos stayed on the Channel Islands until 1870. Adèle met Albert Pinson on Jersey, a man who became her obsession.

Adéle Syndrome

In 1856, she began displaying symptoms of mental illness which will be known as Adéle Syndrome. Albert Pinson, a British army officer, became romantically involved with Adèle in 1856. In 1855, he proposed marriage to her, but she rejected him. Adèle, on the other hand, changed her mind later and wanted to reconcile with Pinson, but he refused to be involved any further with Adèle. Pinson continued his military career and was stationed in Bedfordshire at the Sixteenth Foot Regiment in 1856, where he saw little of Adèle.

Despite Pinson’s refusal, she persisted in pursuing him. Pinson acquired a reputation for debauchery after living in Nova Scotia, Canada throughout the 1863 season with Adèle. When he was stationed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1863, Adèle followed him. Adèle’s family was concerned for her safety, and they attempted to find out where she was by sending letters.

adéle hugo and adéle syndrome 1
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What Is Obsessive Love Disorder?

Erotomania was the cause of Adèle’s fixation. Adèle had hallucinations and other symptoms of mental illness, including erotomania, which indicates that she has schizophrenia. Victor’s eldest son, who predeceased him, was both manic and depressive. Victor’s brother Eugène also suffered from the illness. She was committed to a mental institution for the wealthy outside of Paris after she became sick. She remained there until her demise. Adèle, Victor Hugo’s only surviving child, was the only one of his five offspring to live past him.


Erotomania is a mental disorder characterized by the belief that one is loved by someone else, usually of a higher social status, who is unaware of the person’s feelings. The disorder can lead to stalking behavior and sometimes violence if the object of the person’s affections does not return their feelings. Treatment for erotomania typically includes counseling and medication.


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to think, feel, and behave normally. Symptoms of schizophrenia can include delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking, and social withdrawal. Treatment for schizophrenia typically includes medication and psychotherapy.

Symptoms of Adele Syndrome

The symptoms of erotomania may vary, but typically include persistent and intrusive thoughts or fantasies about a person that the individual is obsessed with. This may lead to attempts to contact or stalk the object of their obsession in an attempt to establish a relationship. Other symptoms may include feeling jealous or threatened by the person they are obsessed with, making excessive phone calls or sending them unwanted gifts. In severe cases, individuals with erotomania may act out their fantasies by breaking into the homes or workplaces of the people they are fixated on.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can cause a range of symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and changes in behavior or appearance.

Hallucinations are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something that isn’t there. Delusions are false beliefs that aren’t based on reality. For example, someone with schizophrenia might believe that they’re being spied on or followed. Changes in behavior or appearance can include becoming more withdrawn and less social, being unkempt or not taking care of oneself, changes in speech patterns (e.g., speaking in a high-pitched voice), and catatonia (a state where someone is unresponsive to their surroundings).

Treatment Methods of Adele Syndrome

Adele Syndrome leads to the gradual destruction of the patient’s personality. Patients will often abandon their sense of reality and imagine themselves in a fictional world where the two lovers’ relationship is real, not imaginary. For example, Adele Hugo sincerely believed that she was married to the lieutenant. Usually, this suffering leads to suicide.

As with all other mental disorders, the treatment of the disease is not so easy. However, it is possible to avoid obsession and dependence – you need to ask for help and acknowledge that the problem exists.

Treatment of Adele Syndrome

In some cases, proper medical treatment requires antidepressants and some other supportive medications. But unfortunately, there is no magic pill that makes the transition from a state of unhappiness to a state of peace and happiness. Therefore, antidepressants should be accompanied with psychotherapy.

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Aaron Beck

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About Author

I am studying in Florida about Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I'm doing research on Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Cognitive psychology, Metacognitive Therapy.

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