Histrionic Personality Disorder

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


Personality is the set of established patterns of behavior by which one relates to and understands the world around them. A personality disorder arises when one develops an inflexible and intransigent pattern of maladaptive thinking and behaving, which significantly impairs social or occupational functioning and can cause interpersonal distress. Patterns of thinking and behaving must significantly deviate from cultural norms to meet the diagnostic criteria for personality disorder. Divergence from cultural expectations would manifest as disturbances with affectivity, cognition (perceives self, others, or events inappropriately), impulse control, or interpersonal functioning. These disturbances are not due to another mental disorder, substance abuse, or other medical condition.

Histrionic personality disorder, or dramatic personality disorder, is a psychiatric disorder distinguished by a pattern of exaggerated emotionality and attention-seeking behaviors. Histrionic personality disorder falls within the “Cluster B” of personality disorders. Cluster B personality disorders include conditions such as narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. These personality disorders are commonly described as dramatic, excitable, erratic, or volatile. Specifically, people with histrionic personality disorder typically present as flirtatious, seductive, charming, manipulative, impulsive, and lively.

People with histrionic personality disorder may feel underappreciated or disregarded when they are not the center of attention. These people are typically the life of the party and have a “larger than life” presence. They may be vibrant, enchanting, overly seductive, or inappropriately sexual with most of the people they meet, even when they are not sexually attracted to them. People presenting with histrionic personality disorder may demonstrate rapidly shifting and shallow emotions that others may perceive as insincere. Physical appearance may be used to draw attention to oneself by wearing bright-colored clothing or revealing garments. Those with histrionic personality disorder may speak in a vague style that lacks in detail. Furthermore, they may be dramatic and extremely emotionally expressive, even embarrassing friends and family with public displays of emotions. They may be impressionable, gullible, suggestible, and easily influenced--especially by the people they admire. Additionally, they tend to consider relationships closer than they usually are.

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