Histrionic Personality Disorder: Overly Dramatic People!

Histrionic Personality Disorder: Overly Dramatic People!

My eyes were open wide as I look left and right. I sat on my bed thinking of an event that happened earlier in school that day. I stood up suddenly dramatising how I should have found a stick and hit her head so I could divert people’s attention.

A knock at my door interrupted my “acting”. I opened the door and it was my roommate,Vivian. She’s a 200L psychology student. She looked into my eyes with confusion in her face. Have you started fighting yourself again? She asked.

Come off it girl, I should have done better. A small girl stepped on me while going to class this morning and I slapped her. She said sorry and started crying as a result of the slap and went away. I should have just hitten her head with a stick. Don’t you think so? I said tapping Vivian’s shoulder.

Are you mad?

You slapped a girl ’cause she stepped on you and you’re still thinking of doing more? Vivian shouted back at me.

No Vivian. I don’t think you get it. She stepped on my foot and thinks only sorry will make it go? In a class of hundreds,imagine the little face that will gather on me. I should have created a bigger scene so I can gain more attention. Vivian,imagine. I dress to kill. I dress to intoxicate. Ohh, I should have done better. I cried back at Vivian.

It’s like I don’t get, Sonia. Vivian answered me.

Yes,my name is Sonia. I’m an 100L student studying Food Science and Engineering.

Okay, I will explain. A small girl stepped on me in class this morning and I slapped her only. Don’t you think I should have done something more? I explained.

Huh,Sonia. Something is wrong with you somewhere. Only God can help you. Just imagine. You slapped a girl ’cause she stepped on you? I can’t just believe you are saying all these.

Vivian took her phone and went to our reading table. She searched something on Google and she reads it aloud;

Histrionic Personality Disorder

In a person with histrionic personality disorder, self-esteem depends on the approval of others. People with this disorder have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention.


What is histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personality disorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions and distorted self-images. For people with histrionic personality disorder, their self-esteem depends on the approval of others and does not arise from a true feeling of self-worth. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention. The word histrionic means “dramatic or theatrical.”

This disorder is more common in women than in men and usually is evident by early adulthood.


What causes histrionic personality disorder?

The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is not known, but many mental health professionals believe that both learned and inherited factors play a role in its development. For example, the tendency for histrionic personality disorder to run in families suggests that a genetic susceptibility for the disorder might be inherited. However, the child of a parent with this disorder might simply be repeating learned behavior. Other environmental factors that might be involved include a lack of criticism or punishment as a child, positive reinforcement that is given only when a child completes certain approved behaviors, and unpredictable attention given to a child by his or her parent(s), all leading to confusion about what types of behavior earn parental approval.

What are the symptoms of histrionic personality disorder?

In many cases, people with histrionic personality disorder have good social skills; however, they tend to use these skills to manipulate others so that they can be the center of attention.

A person with this disorder might also:

  1. Be uncomfortable unless he or she is the center of attention.
  2. Dress provocatively and/or exhibit inappropriately seductive or flirtatious behavior.
  3. Shift emotions rapidly.
  4. Act very dramatically—as though performing before an audience—with exaggerated emotions and expressions, yet appears to lack sincerity.
  5. Be overly concerned with physical appearance.
  6. Constantly seek reassurance or approval.
  7. Be gullible and easily influenced by others.
  8. Be excessively sensitive to criticism or disapproval.
  9. Have a low tolerance for frustration and be easily bored by routine, often beginning projects without finishing them or skipping from one event to another.
  10. Not think before acting.
  11. Make rash decisions.
  12. Be self-centered and rarely show concern for others.
  13. Have difficulty maintaining relationships, often seeming fake or shallow in their dealings with others.
  14. Threaten or attempt suicide to get attention.

You May Also Like: Antisocial personality disorder: Total Disregard for Others


How is histrionic personality disorder diagnosed?

If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. Although, there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, healthcare professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a personality disorder.


How is histrionic personality disorder treated?

In general, people with histrionic personality disorder do not believe they need therapy. They also tend to exaggerate their feelings and to dislike routine, which makes following a treatment plan difficult. However, they might seek help if depression—possibly associated with a loss or a failed relationship—or another problem caused by their thinking and behavior causes them distress.

Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) is generally the treatment of choice for histrionic personality disorder. The goal of treatment is to help the individual uncover the motivations and fears associated with his or her thoughts and behavior, and to help the person learn to relate to others in a more positive way.

Medication might be used to treat the distressing symptoms—such as depression and anxiety—that might co-occur with this disorder.

What are the complications of histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder can affect a person’s social or romantic relationships, and how a person react to losses or failures. People with this disorder are also at higher risk than the general population to have depression.


Can histrionic personality disorder be prevented?

Although prevention of the disorder might not be possible, treatment can allow a person who is prone to this disorder to learn more productive ways of dealing with situations.


What is the outlook for people with histrionic personality disorder?

Many people with this disorder are able to function well socially and at work. Those with severe cases, however, might experience significant problems in their daily lives.

Could I, Sonia be suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder? I asked myself repeatedly.

About The Author

Writer: Sofiyat Adepeju Afolabi

Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State.

Sofiyat Afolabi is a student Medical Laboratory Scientist that has passion in writing and discussing topics related to the psychology of life. She likes to enlighten the public and give speeches to people on different walks of life. She really enjoys being the source that brings and yields positive effects in the society.

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