Histrionic Personality Disorder
Dramatic, theatrical and extravagant
Information on Histrionic Personality Disorder – including presentation, symptoms and treatment.
Beliefs, emotions and behaviour.
This personality type is characterised by thinking that avoids internal thought, meaning the person may not consider the consequences and effects of their behaviour. Their focus will be on seeking attention or admiration from others as a way to boost their confidence and feel valid. Their core belief is that they are incapable of coping with life themselves, so need others to care for them. Such an individual will be overly attentive to small details, whilst often missing the bigger picture, coming across as lacking insight. They see themselves as sociable, stimulating and charming.
Missing Interpersonal Ability:
A person with a histrionic personality is likely to over react to situations and can appear provocative. They do not like a lack of activity, which will lead them to act in an impulsive, highly emotional and theatrical way. The person will often use clothes or highlight their natural features to draw attention to themselves, and will change this on a regular basis to try and be socially attractive. They show extravagant emotion but this is superficial. and will initially come across as charismatic and extravert. They may talk in a way to impress others, but underneath there is a lack of depth to what they are saying, meaning they can struggle to hold a meaningful conversation.
I must impress and be glamourousBeliefs about self
Others admire me, are there to be seducedBeliefs about others
The world is a place to show off my talentsBeliefs about the world
Isn’t it just a version of extroversion?
Individuals with this personality pattern also score highly on extraversion scales. However, with Histrionic Personality Disorder, there is usually underlying fears and insecurities that lead to this behaviour. Many individuals who are extravert do not display behaviour that can impact negatively on themselves or others and are likely to have greater impulse control and ability to perspective take.
Histrionic Personality Disorder Diagnostic Criteria
To gain a diagnosis of this Personality Disorder, individuals must show five of the following traits, persistently and pervasively:
- A compulsion to be the centre of attention that results in discomfort if unmet
- Inappropriate sexual, seductive or provocative behaviour when interacting with others
- Shallow, rapidly shifting emotions
- The use of physical appearance to draw others’ attention
- Dramatic, impressionistic speech that lacks detail
- Exaggerated, theatrical emotional expression
- Easily influenced by others or situations
- Assumes relationships are more intimate than they are
Treatment for Histrionic Personality Disorder
Therapy which allows for a supportive rapport to be built has been found to be useful for Histrionic Personality Disorder. This could include Schema Therapy or psychodynamic therapy. Any therapy that helps the individual to consider the origins of their behaviour, in a non-threatening way, will help.
As individuals with this personality often show emotional reactions and impulsive behaviour they may also benefit from DBT skills. This could include the modules on emotional management and distress tolerance.