WHAT IS HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?

When you live with any mental illness, one of the common aspects is often that you find yourself isolated, either by choice or as a consequence of the illness itself. Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)  is slightly different.

HPD means that you will feel the need to become the centre of attention within a group of people and become anxious when you aren't. HPD'ers will want to feel the instant gratification their actions should, in their eyes, bring. These feelings will seem like they're a little over-dramatic or a little too lively for some, hence the name 'histrionic', meaning excessively theatrical or dramatic.

Those with Histrionic Personality Disorder will find the routine of everyday life a little boring, instead craving the new, the exciting and the novelty of new situations. They will also tend to worry about their appearance and about not being noticed.

It's one thing to be the 'life and soul' of the party, but if it's a condition you can't control, that isn't always a good thing. It might sound like a light-hearted condition, but it is far from that.

HPD is a long-term condition, but one that can affect long-term relationships too. Part of the condition is that they can engage in provocative or sexually-suggestive behaviour towards other people and in the most inappropriate places. Whilst they may do this purely to gain attention for themselves, it may not look like that to others.

This can affect relationships with friends (and their partners) because their behaviour will be taken the wrong way. It can also cause problems with their own long-term partners. Because of the need to seek out the 'new' and 'exciting', the stability, trust and love that a long-term relationship bring can suffer as a result.

With partners, the behaviour of those with HPD can be both controlling (through emotional manipulation) and, at the same time, they feel the need to dependant on them. It's a difficult condition to live with for both sides.

THE SYMPTOMS

Histrionic Personality Disorder comes across as a pervasive pattern of attention-seeking and excessively emotional behaviour. In addition, the symptoms also include:

  • Exaggerated emotions and excessively dramatic behaviour.
  • Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate or sexual than they really are.
  • Self-centred.
  • Sensitive to criticism or disapproval by other people.
  • Emotions that change quickly.
  • Behaviour that is deemed as inappropriate or overtly suggestive.

In order to address their need to be centre of the attention, they can also dress suggestively, which often give off the wrong message to other people about who they are.

WHAT CAUSES HISTRIONIC PERSONALITY DISORDER?

Histrionic Personality Disorder is DEFINITELY caused by [INSERT WORD HERE]. Wouldn't it be great if we could complete that sentence. Sadly, that's not the case.

Quite how and why HPD develops is still open to debate. It is generally thought that HPD develops from a combination of biological, social and psychological factors.

WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?

One of the consequences of Histrionic Personality Disorder is that relationships with family, friends and partners sometimes suffer. This can lead to them seeking help for depression-like symptoms. As such, medication is usually prescribed, but for HPD, long-term medication is not usually advised.

In addition, psychotherapy usually works pretty well for those with HPD.


If you live with Histrionic Personality Disorder, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.

Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with HPD with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.