Just Dramatic and Superficial or Suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder?

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Just Dramatic and Superficial or Suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder?

A woman showing two emotions while holding a mask. / Photo by: Axel Bueckert via 123RF


Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is explained by humanresearchfunding.org as being a Cluster B disorder or the dramatic type of personality disorders. People who suffer from this condition are described as individuals who have unstable and extreme emotions. They have a twisted perception of themselves because they have a wavering sense of self-esteem.

It is reported that Histrionic Personality Disorder is more prevalent in men than women. Moreover, it is also noted that one to three percent of the world have this disorder. In the United States, it is estimated that 1.8% of American adults are diagnosed with HPD.


Individuals with Histrionic Personality Disorder are known for being apt at socializing. WebMD says that the negative side of having these good social skills is that they are used in order to constantly be in the spotlight. With their proficiency in socializing, they are also skilled in manipulating others into having them focus solely on them. This is due to the fact that people with this personality disorder have their self-esteem dependent on other’s perception and approval of them and their own feeling of self-worth.




Histrionic Personality Disorder is described as a disorder wherein an individual is constantly seeking attention and experiences intense emotions. Based on the description of Psych Central, people who have this condition revel in being the center of attention. They become stressed when people no longer focus on them. They are typically energetic, appealing and theatrical but have a hard time dealing with not always having people’s attention. In addition, they are often viewed as being superficial and may try to call attention to themselves by exhibiting seductive behaviors.



A young girl sitting alone looking lonely. / Photo by: Daniel Fér via 123RF


Kendra Cherry, a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, states that the exact reasons for most personality disorders cannot be identified. However, there may be certain elements that can cause a person to suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Factors that can contribute to an individual having HPD are:

1. Having a previous family record of other members suffering from personality disorders and mental illnesses

2. Having a low educational attainment as well as social and economic status

3. Experiencing abuse during childhood which can be verbal, physical or sexual

4. Being neglected as a child or having a chaotic family

5. Having childhood conduct disorder

6. Having differences in brain and chemistry structure



A person with HPD wants to be constantly watched. Individuals who suffer from this tend to act like they are constantly part of a performance, which is the reason they are often seen exhibiting attention-seeking behaviors. This can be demonstrated in the way they tend to dress provocatively or act inappropriately seductive. Their moods, opinions, and beliefs can easily change and are also easily affected by other people’s reassurance and approval. They feel that for them to be validated, people have to be a witness of their exaggerated and dramatic emotional displays.

A person with this condition may manifest these symptoms or display the following behaviors:

1. Being too concerned with their outward appearance

2. Always seeking the approval of others

3. Acting dramatically, as if they are always part of a show, with exaggerated expressions and emotions which do not look real

4. Being easily influenced by other people

5. Being hypersensitive to criticism

6. Cannot bear with frustrations

7. Quickly shifting moods

8. Getting easily bored by routines

9. Tendency to be  impulsive or not thinking before acting

10. Being self-centered and seldom caring about others

11. Have trouble maintaining their relationships which are often fake or shallow

12. Trying to get attention by threatening or attempting suicide

13. Making irrational decisions



A Psychiatrist consulting a young woman having depression. / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF


Histrionic Personality Disorder patients are known to be hard to treat. They are said to exaggerate their feelings and have an aversion to routine, which may cause them not to follow a treatment plan. Group therapies and family therapies are not recommended to sufferers of HPD as this may cause their symptoms to become worse. Having therapy with a group involve may instead present them chances of displaying even more dramatic behavior.

People suffering from this disorder are advised to undergo psychotherapy and take some prescribed medicines. Long-term psychotherapy is the most advised approach to treat Histrionic Personality Disorder. Under this therapy, the therapist will be assigned to play the “rescuer” role and will have to always reassure and save the patient from the hardships they face daily. During the therapy, it is expected that the patient will narrate their problems in an overly theatrical manner.

It is said that therapists can use the skeptical approach to discourage further attention-seeking behaviors. Oftentimes, the individual suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder may see a therapist as sexually attractive. The therapist may have to establish clear relationship boundaries.

During the session, the therapist can assist the patient by explaining to them when they using a shallow basis for judging others. They can also help the individual realize that they should not place emphasis merely on attractiveness in their lifestyle and relationships and suggest other options and trying new behaviors.

This can be a turning point for the patient who may now be able to reflect on this by themselves in their life.




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