People with histrionic disorder engage in excessively dramatic or attention-seeking behaviors. Histrionic behavior typically first appears in adolescence and is present across a wide range of situations. People with this disorder–one of several dramatic personality disorders–often function well in social and work situations, with histrionic features not always being immediately apparent. However, the disorder can lead to significant problems in the sufferer’s daily life. Whether you or a loved one has this condition, living with histrionic personality disorder isn’t easy.
Histrionic Disorder Information
The most obvious symptom of histrionic personality disorder is a constant need for attention. Other histrionic features include:
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
- Discomfort when not at the center of attention
- Dramatic actions and expressions that seem to lack sincerity
- High sensitivity to criticism
- Inappropriately provocative and flirtatious dress or behavior
- Inflated concern with physical appearance
- Low tolerance for frustration; easily bored
- Need for reassurance and approval from others
- Rapidly shifting emotions
- Self-centered thoughts or behavior.
Sustaining meaningful, intimate relationships is difficult for people with histrionic personality disorder. Successful relationships require expressing sincere emotions, which is difficult for people with histrionic personality disorder. Despite using dramatic behavior to attract attention, a person with this disorder may appear to lack sincerity. Symptoms such as impulsivity, rapidly shifting emotions and self-centeredness provide additional obstacles to forming long-term intimate relationships.
Histrionics quickly bond with people, but at a superficial level. Their demand for constant attention, often expressed as flirtatiousness or sexual promiscuity, can destroy relationships. Because they are easily bored, they may focus on new relationships at the expense of more long-standing commitments.
Coping with Dramatic Personality Disorders
Histrionic behavior is a chronic condition, but symptoms tend to subside as the person grows older. While someone with histrionic personality disorder may seek treatment for another condition, such as anxiety, she’s unlikely to stay in therapy long enough to conquer the personality disorder, which can take years.
Living with histrionic personality disorder can be difficult. Although people with this disorder often function well at work and socially, their symptoms make it difficult to sustain relationships. Histrionic personality disorder tends to leave a person ill-equipped to handle failure or loss, and people with this disorder may also have mood disorders, such as depression.
Family therapy may be a helpful treatment for histrionic personality disorder. This approach can teach both the sufferer and his family members healthy ways to cope with conflicts and histrionic behavior. Alternative treatments, such as meditation, may also help a person with histrionic personality disorder relax and deal with his own feelings.
Histrionic Behavior: Suicide Attempts
If someone you know has histrionic personality disorder, she may threaten suicide. Take this threat seriously, even if you think it’s only a call for attention. People with histrionic personality disorder may act on these threats and harm or kill themselves or others. Treat any talk of suicide seriously and take immediate action to help prevent it.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Histrionic personality disorder. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Histrionic-personality-disorder.html
Grohol, J. M. (2010). Histrionic personality disorder. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx17.htm
The Cleveland Clinic. (2009). Histrionic personality disorder. Retrieved September 2, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_histrionic_personality_disorder.aspx