Histrionic personality disorder: Definition, symptoms, and more

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a condition that causes a person to demonstrate behavior that is highly emotional and dramatic. A person with this condition may also excessively seek attention from other people.

Originally, people believed that women were more likely to receive a diagnosis of HPD. However, research now suggests that it affects all genders equally.

Keep reading to learn more about HPD, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

HPD is one of several cluster B personality disorders. Cluster B personality disorders often involve behavior that is overly emotional, erratic, and dramatic.

People with HPD may feel disheartened or dismissed when they are not the center of attention. They may often seem to be vibrant or overly seductive, and other people may describe them as “the life of the party.”

People with HPD will likely demonstrate some of the following symptoms:

  • feels discomfort at not being the center of attention
  • exhibits oversexualized behaviors
  • has shifting and shallow emotions, such as jealousy or greed
  • uses their appearance to get attention
  • has impressionistic speech that lacks detail
  • experiences emotions that often appear exaggerated and dramatic
  • is suggestible
  • believes that relationships are more intimate than they actually are

One 2018 study also suggests that people with HPD may have alexithymia. This refers to a trait wherein a person is unable to recognize or describe emotions that they or others experience.

Defense mechanisms are unconscious mental processes that protect a person from becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. People with HPD may often use repression, dissociation, or both as forms of defense mechanism.

Repression refers to when a person keeps painful stimuli such as memories, thoughts, and feelings out of conscious awareness.

Dissociation refers to the mental process wherein a person becomes disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, memories, and sense of identity.

The exact causes of HPD are currently unknown. However, some researchers believe that it may develop due to a combination of learned behaviors and inherited factors.

For example, some mental health professionals believe that a person may inherit HPD, as it can affect multiple members of the same family.

Parenting styles may also play a part in a person’s chance of developing HPD. For example, if a child observes their parent or caregiver engaging in volatile, inappropriate, or oversexualized behavior, they may be more likely to develop HPD.

Another possible explanation is that HPD develops as an adaptation to traumatic childhood experiences.

In the United States, there is no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication for the specific treatment of personality disorders.

Psychotherapy is usually the primary treatment for HPD. This involves a person discussing their feelings and experiences with a therapist. The therapist can then help the person determine the reason behind certain actions and behaviors.

Some examples of psychotherapy that may be useful for people with HPD include cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CAT is a talking therapy that focuses on the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. Older research suggests that this type of

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