Histrionic Personality Disorder
Histrionic personality disorder is a disorder in which an individual is dramatic in many ways, particularly to gain the attention of others. The disorder may manifest in the outward expression of emotions, whether real or contrived, the person’s behavior or the person’s attire. Histrionic personality disorder does not typically interfere with a person’s ability to function, though it can be a detriment to relationships and work if the behavior becomes an issue for others. The symptoms of the disorder are varied, but typically involve a range of attention seeking methods.
While not always a sign of the disorder, dressing provocatively is a potential symptom. Done to gain the sexual attention of others, it may be coupled with inordinate concern for one’s appearance. Many people are vain, but people with the disorder are not just pleasing themselves with their manner of dress; they are attempting to please others.
The emotions of a person with histrionic personality disorder are dramatic, ever changing, self-centered and overblown. Things that are not very important can cause a person with this disorder to overreact in a way that gains the attention of others. It is not emotion that is dealt with in private, but is public and more than would be expected. For example, a person who cries hysterically about a bad haircut and talks about it for days afterward, seeking sympathy from others. A person who is dealing with a lot of stress may react somewhat similarly. However, it is the attention seeking that defines the symptom.
When it comes to romantic relationships, a person with histrionic personality disorder may see more to the relationship than is there. Always in fear of rejection, he or she will crave the intimacy and deep love of dramatic love stories. Because their expectations are out of proportion with reality, criticism or rejection in the relationship can cause dramatic outbursts of emotion that are in line with the fantasies of the individual.
There is a level of hypochondria sometimes involved in histrionic personality disorder. The person will imagine or exaggerate physical symptoms, convincing him or herself and telling other people that they are ill. In these situations and others, people with the disorder do not like it when the attention shifts away from them. They will seem bored or distracted with other’s problems and inordinately focused on their own.
Despite their need to be the center of attention, histrionic people are easily swayed by others. This is presumably in line with their need for praise. If they do what other people want them to do, they will be thought of highly.
Histrionic personality disorder symptoms are diagnosed by these and by a professional interacting with the individual. Because it is sometimes natural to crave attention, not all people who show these symptoms have a disorder. They can be brought on by stress, poor self-image and strong sexuality. There is treatment available for the disorder, but doctors must first rule out other disorders that may present similarly, such as somatoform disorders and depression.
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