Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is part of a larger group
of psychological disorders, called “Cluster B” personality disorders. Disorders
in this category are generally categorized as being dramatic, emotional, or
People with HPD have a distorted mental image of themselves. They
often base their self-esteem on the approval of others. This creates a need to
be noticed. Because of this, people with HPD may resort to dramatic antics.
Women are diagnosed with HPD more often than men. That may be
because men report their symptoms less often than women.
the Signs of Histrionic Personality Disorder
HPD is not a devastating psychological disorder. Most people with
HPD function successfully in society and at work. In fact, people with HPD
usually have great people skills. Unfortunately, they often use these skills to
According to the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), people
with histrionic personality disorder have at least five (or more) of the
- Is uncomfortable in situations in which they are
not the center of attention
- Has interactions with others characterized by
inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior
- Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression
- Consistently uses their physical attention to
draw attention to self
- Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic
and lacking in detail
- Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and
exaggerated expression of emotion
- Is suggestible (that is, they are easily influenced
by others or circumstances)
- Considers relationships to be more intimate than
they actually are
If you have HPD, you might also be easily frustrated or bored
with routines, make rash decisions before thinking, or threaten to commit
suicide in order to get attention.
Causes Histrionic Personality Disorder?
The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown. Scientists
believe it is an outcome of both environmental and genetic factors.
Some families have a history of HPD, which lends credit to the
theory that the condition may be explained in part by genetics. On the other
hand, children of parents with HPD may simply exhibit behavior they learned
from their parents. It is also possible that a lack of discipline or positive
reinforcement of dramatic behaviors in childhood can cause HPD. A child may
learn HPD behaviors as a way to get attention from their parents.
No matter the cause, HPD usually presents itself by early
There is no specific test that is used to diagnose HPD. If you
are troubled by your symptoms and seek medical care, your primary care provider
will likely begin by taking a complete medical history. They may perform a physical
exam to rule out any physical problems that might be causing your symptoms.
If your primary care provider doesn’t find a physical cause for
your symptoms, they may refer you to a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are
specifically trained to recognize and treat psychological disorders. A
psychiatrist will be able to use expert questions to get a clear view of the
history of your behavior. An accurate assessment of your behaviors will help
your primary care provider diagnose you.
However, most people with this condition do not believe they need
therapy or help, making diagnosis difficult. Many people who have HPD receive a
diagnosis after they go into therapy for depression or anxiety, usually
following a failed relationship or other personal conflicts.
Treatment can be difficult if you have HPD. Like many people with
HPD, you might think you don’t need treatment, or you might find the routine of
a treatment program to be unappealing. However, therapy — and sometimes
medications — can help you cope with HPD.
Psychotherapy is the most common and effective treatment choice
for HPD. This kind of therapy involves talking to a therapist about your
feelings and experiences. Such talks can help you and your therapist determine
the reasoning behind your actions and behaviors. Your therapist may be able to
help you learn how to relate with people in a positive manner, instead of
continually trying to get attention from them.
If you experience depression or anxiety as a part of your HPD,
your primary care provider might put you on antidepressants or antianxiety
Outlook for a Person with HPD
Lots of people with HPD lead normal lives and are able to work
and be a part of society. In fact, many people with HPD do very well in casual
settings. Many of them only encounter problems in more intimate relationships.
Depending on your case, your HPD may affect your ability to hold a job,
maintain a relationship, or stay focused on life goals. It may also cause you
to constantly seek adventure, putting you into risky situations.
You are also at a higher risk for depression if you have HPD. The
disorder can affect how you handle failure and loss. It can also leave you feeling
more frustrated when you don’t get what you want. You should talk to your primary
care provider if you have symptoms of HPD, especially if they are interfering
with your everyday life and work or your ability to lead a happy, fulfilling