Most of us naturally want some measure of attention, but not to the point of it becoming our sole concern. This is just one of the primary signifiers of histrionic personality disorder (HPD). Identifying HPD can be difficult and ultimately does require a professional diagnosis. Understanding what histrionic personality disorder is, how to spot its symptoms, and the various methods available for treatment can provide clarity for you or your loved one.
What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
Also known as dramatic personality disorder, HPD is one of the ten disorders most mental health professionals are trained to recognize and diagnose. Divided between three clusters, HPD is categorized within “cluster B” personality disorders characterized by dramatic and unpredictable behavior. Other “cluster B” personality disorders include narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.
Histrionic personality disorder is a mental health disorder where individuals display dramatic emotionality and attention-seeking behavior. This is due to the issue that their self-image relies entirely on the opinion of others rather than their actual concept of self-worth. In order to fulfill this desire for attention, those with HPD will often dress strikingly or sensually to garner more attention and speak overly emotionally or sexually.
When not the center of attention, individuals with histrionic personality disorder may feel betrayed or neglected. As a result, those with HPD will often become the “life of the party” and ensure that they are constantly in the limelight of any gathering, even when such behavior is inappropriate. Another characteristic of HPD is a common belief that their relationships are much closer and more intimate than they are. They will often cause attention with overt public displays of affection.
Due to their need for social acceptance, those with HPD are often easily swayed by the thoughts and opinions of others and be highly impressionable. This will be amplified, especially when speaking with someone they admire. Overall, some characteristics often associated with HPD are melodramatic, unpredictable, volatile, seductive, captivating, impulsive, and energetic.
Signs and Symptoms
While those with histrionic personality disorder can excel in their professional career at a high level, they will often struggle in their relationships. An HPD diagnosis requires a professional examination, yet some signs and symptoms may indicate the possibility of histrionic personality disorder. Some symptoms include:
- Constantly requiring attention and approval
- Participating in impulsive behavior
- Extremely sensitive to critique and disapproval
- Acting overly sexual or flirtatious with everyone, even people they aren’t necessarily attracted to
- Using their appearance to gain attention. For example, dressing in bright colors or seductively for attention
- Talks loudly and are highly opinionated, but with few facts to validate their statements
- Easily influenced and gullible
- Has a hard time building connections and can appear superficial
- Need immediate fulfillment and are easily bored or disappointed
The causes of histrionic personality disorder are not entirely well understood or verified. However, it is argued that individuals may develop HPD due to adverse childhood experiences or parents/role models who similarly displayed attention-seeking behavior. Another factor may be genealogical, yet this is not well-researched as it could be the result of influence rather than DNA.
How Common Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?
According to the Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) survey, an estimated nine percent of the general population is believed to have a minimum of one personality disorder. As for histrionic personality disorder, it is only two percent of the population. While women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with HPD, this may partially be caused by the notion that sexually confident women are less accepted. Men are also less likely to disclose symptoms and could be underrepresented in this percentage.
People with histrionic personality disorder frequently believe their conduct to be normal and find it difficult to recognize a problem. This personality disorder has an ego-syntonic tendency. This lack of understanding may lead to the underdiagnosis of this personality disorder until far later in life, after behavior patterns have seriously hampered interpersonal well-being, employment, or relationships.
Treatment for Histrionic Personality Disorder
The preferred treatment for histrionic personality disorder and other personality disorders is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. The purpose of this form of treatment is to assist the patient in discovering the concerns and motives underlying their thoughts and conduct. This therapy will also guide patients in developing more positive interpersonal relationships, which can be negatively affected by their HPD.
At Avalon Malibu, our therapists employ intimacy and memory-related techniques. Clients with HPD may have trouble remembering circumstances since they tend to repress events. Our licensed therapists use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help clients with HPD learn to recognize involuntary thoughts and address impulsive behaviors. Using modeling techniques in behavioral therapy can help clients understand how their histrionic behavior affects others in various contexts.
Histrionic personality disorder can manifest in a number of ways, yet it is centered on the basic need for attention. If you or a loved one are concerned about histrionic personality disorder, Avalon Malibu is prepared to help you today. We offer a vast array of therapeutic methods to help guide you toward a healthier mindset and lifestyle. Using individual and group therapy, we can help you face the challenges that histrionic personality disorder has created. Your time with us can be enhanced with additional personalized therapeutic treatments, such as art therapy, music, yoga, and much more. For more information on histrionic personality disorder treatment, call us today at (844) 857-5992.