Histrionic personality disorder

Histrionic personality disorder, also referred to as HPD, is characterized by an excessive pattern of attention-seeking behaviors, such as seductiveness, the constant need for approval, exhibiting forms of hysteria and becoming overly-emotional an inappropriate times. People with histrionic personality disorder are usually able to function normally in society, but tend to have problems with maintaining relationships. They are usually fun to be around, as they tend to be lively, creative, funny and dramatic, but will often use their personality skills to manipulate the people around them for their own personal gain.


Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder


Histrionic personality disorder often leads to failed relationships because of the degree of manipulation and the lack of empathy. People with this disorder are generally exciting with good social skills, but lack the depth and commitment ability to sustain a partnership for any length of time. They tend to either idealize or devaluate a situation, depending upon which behavior will create the most attention toward themselves. Following is a list of additional symptoms that may be described of someone experiencing histrionic personality disorder:

  • Provocative or overly seductive behavior
  • Must be continually at the center of attention
  • Theatrical and overly dramatic
  • Excessive care of physical appearance in order to be attractive to others
  • Easily influenced
  • Goes overboard to impress others
  • Exhibits shallow behavior


Causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder


Like most mental illnesses, the cause of histrionic personality disorder is largely unknown. Theories represent that genetics or brain chemical imbalance may be to blame. Alternatively, childhood environment may play a role in development. Patients who experienced the death of a family member or other significant loss early on may develop symptoms. Additionally, children who are loved conditionally, with high expectations that can never be met, may learn to overcompensate for love and attention. This can lead to the attention-seeking behaviors, but they normally lack the social skills to follow through with development of a withstanding relationship.


Diagnosis of Histrionic Personality Disorder


The diagnosis for histrionic personality disorder presents subjective criteria, and therefore may be difficult to determine. There are no tests to determine concrete evidence of this condition, but psychological evaluation, family history, physical appearance and behavioral aspects can lead a professional to pinpoint the signs. In general, a person must be subject to at least three of the symptoms listed above to qualify for a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder.


Treatment Options for Histrionic Personality Disorder


Treating histrionic personality disorder is difficult under traditional medical guidelines. There is no medication that can positively affect this disorder, and if pills are prescribed, they are generally directed at symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Many forms of psychotherapy provide the best success rates at alleviating symptoms and helping patients to regain a sense of individual control and coping skills. Trial and error with different therapy platforms may benefit. Following are some suggestions for treatment options:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – teaches awareness of self and new ways of recognizing and then coping with particularly negative behavioral patterns
  • Family therapy – may assist the patient and loved ones to come to the root of issues and gain resolution, therefore alleviating the need for behaviors leading to symptoms
  • Group therapy – can be helpful in learning ways to decrease self-indulgence, but must be monitored to ensure the patient doesn't use the 'stage' for perpetuation of negative and habitual behaviors
  • Alternative therapies – holistic healing remedies, such as meditation, color therapy, relaxation techniques, yoga and flower essences can provide a new focus of attention, and benefit the patient in the healing of mind, body and spirit, as a whole