What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
Published on September 9th, 2019
Updated on March 11th, 2022
Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a disorder in which a person seeks attention. An affected person will engage in behaviors to gain the attention of the people around them.
Not being the center of attention causes stress for an affected person. They feel rejected, unappreciated, and uncomfortable when they do not have the spotlight.
A person with HPD tends to be outgoing and lively to draw attention to themselves. They can be charming and flirtatious and may gain interest in the people around them. However, this attention tends to be short-lived as dramatic behaviors become a deterrent.
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People with HPD will take measures to keep attention on themselves. They may dramatize their feelings toward others. They may also make up stories to grab people’s interest or try to be the life of the party. Sometimes, people with HPD may engage in provocative or impulsive behaviors for attention.
HPD behaviors can cause a strain in relationships. This makes it difficult for a person with HPD to be in healthy and secure connections with others.
People with HPD may also struggle with expressing emotions in a healthy way. They can turn to manipulation and controlling behaviors in their relationships. This often causes tension and struggles with maintaining romantic partners and friends.
Key Behaviors of Histrionic Personality Disorder
Many symptoms of HPD manifest in the affected person’s behavior. People with HPD will show overly dramatic behaviors. These behaviors are intended to gain the attention of the people around them. Whether good or bad attention, the goal is to be in the spotlight.
People with HPD have extreme displays of emotion. These displays are typically an exaggeration of how they are really feeling. When a person with HPD acts out, it is in an attempt to become the center of attention. This tends to quickly wear on the patience of the people close to them.
The following are typical behaviors associated with HPD:
- Being overly dramatic
- Acting like the life of a party
- Being overly flirtatious or flattering of others
- Showing exaggerated enthusiasm in conversation
- Making up stories for attention
- Creating a scene or starting arguments for attention
- Exaggerating illnesses or ailments
- Dressing provocatively in inappropriate settings
- Playing a victim role
- Seeking compliments from others
- Being easily influenced by what is popular
- Engaging in controlling or dependent behaviors in relationships
Emotional Challenges of Histrionic Personality Disorder
Suffering from HPD causes emotional challenges. People with HPD tend to have fragile egos. They can also have a hard time controlling their emotions. They can be reactive and often seek instant gratification. Because of this, affected people tend to struggle to express how they are feeling.
Common emotional challenges associated with HPD include:
- Flighty or inconsistent emotions
- Emotional upset when hearing a critical comment about themselves
- An exaggerated expression of emotions
- Challenges with maintaining romantic relationships and friendships due to emotional reactivity and behaviors
- Struggling with feeling bored, unstimulated, or stuck in a routine
- Frustration when not instantly or easily gratified
Affected people are at increased risk of suffering from co-occurring mental health disorders. These conditions can occur along with the excessive emotionality seen in HPD. Mental health disorders that can co-occur with HPD include:
- Somatic symptom disorder (Hypochondria)
- Borderline personality disorder
- Narcissistic personality disorder
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Dependent personality disorder
What Causes Histrionic Personality Disorder?
The main cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown. The condition may be caused by a combination of factors. Such factors include:
- Parental influence
- Behavioral modeling in household
- History of narcissistic personality disorder or HPD in the family
- Personality type
- Pressure to fit in
The habits of HPD may begin to develop during childhood. Behaviors may be modeled by parents or family members during upbringing. They may also be modeled in social or cultural standards for fitting in or being accepted.
The following are all risk factors that may lead to the development of HPD:
- Poor stress management skills
- Personal values
Both men and women can suffer from the disorder, but women tend to be diagnosed more often than men.
Therapy For Histrionic Personality Disorder
Treatment of HPD takes a great deal of time and commitment to therapy. Many people with the disorder will be in therapy for years.
Distress tolerance skills and self-exploration are methods that are often used in therapy. The goal of therapy for HPD is for the affected person to gain insight into their behaviors.
Talk therapy is used to treat people with HPD. In talk therapy, affected people learn how to self-reflect. They learn how to be aware of their thoughts and behavior. They also learn how to make changes to their thoughts and behaviors to make better decisions.
People with HPD can recover with successful treatment. The changes made in therapy affect their self-image. They also cause an improved sense of self-esteem.
All of the changes that result from therapy can cause improved relationships. They also build a stronger sense of self-image and less emotional sensitivity.
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