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Histrionic Personality Disorder

People with histrionic personality disorder are extremely emotional and continually seek to be the center of attentionhistorionic

  • They often engage in attention-getting behaviors and are always “on stage”
    • Approval and praise are the lifeblood of these individuals
  • People with histrionic personality disorder are often described as vain, self-centered, and demanding
    • Some make suicide attempts, often to manipulate others

This disorder was once believed to be more common in women than in men

  • However, research has revealed gender bias in past diagnoses
  • The latest statistics suggest that around 2% to 3% of adults have this personality disorder, with males and females equally affected

How Do Theorists Explain Histrionic Personality Disorder?

The psychodynamic perspective was originally developed to explain cases of hysteria, and theorists have retained their interest in the disorder today

  • Most psychodynamic theorists believe that, as children, people with this disorder experienced unhealthy relationships in which cold parents left them feeling unloved and afraid of abandonment
  • To defend against deep-seated fears of loss, the individuals learned to behave dramatically, inventing crises that would require people to act protectively

Cognitive theorists look at the lack of substance and the extreme suggestibility found in people with the disorder

  • Some propose that people with histrionic personality disorder hold a general assumption that they are helpless to care for themselves, so they seek out others who will meet their needs

Sociocultural and multicultural theorists believe the disorder is caused in part by society’s norms and expectations

  • The vain, dramatic, and selfish behavior may be an exaggeration of femininity as our culture once defined it

Treatments for Histrionic Personality Disorder

Unlike people with most other personality disorders, those with histrionic personality disorder are more likely to seek treatment on their own

  • Working with them can be difficult because of their demands, tantrums, seductiveness, and attempts to please the therapist

Cognitive therapists try to help people with this disorder change their belief that they are helpless and try to help them develop better, more deliberate ways of thinking and solving problems

Psychodynamic therapy and group therapy have also been applied to help clients deal with their dependency

  • Clinical case reports suggest that each of the approaches can be useful
  • Drug therapy is less successful, except as a means of relieving the depression experienced by some patients

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Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
McGraw-Hill.McGraw Hill Higher Education (2013), The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
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