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Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Obsession

Fri, Jul 14th 2000

I recently received a letter from a young man with a history of mental illness who has become obsessed with me. He fortunately does not know where I am living, but he has my parents' phone number and address. Three years ago, I declined his marriage proposal given over the phone from 800 miles away. We had never dated and I had already told him I did not return his affections. I have since then ignored all contact from him. He has left numerous messages on my parents' answering machine (including another marriage proposal), and although they used to be infrequent (about every 12-15 months), they have become more frequent and finally he sent a long letter requesting I give him some sense of closure. When he proposed to me 3 years ago, I thought I had made my feelings clear, but I don't think I ever simply said "Don't contact me again". At that point, I didn't realize the extent of his mental illness. I am concerned that any response from me after all this time will be perceived as a positive response, however I really want him to leave my parents alone and to stop trying to contact me. Would it be better to send him a short note requesting he stop calling and writing, or to simply continue to ignore him? Or is there another option?

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