A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

Histrionic Personality Disorder is characterized by excessive emotionality and dramatic attention seeking behaviour. It was formerly labeled as a Hysterical personality. A person with histrionic personality disorder craves praise and recognition from others and is self-centered and demanding. Extreme and exaggerated displays of emotion are common symptoms. Some-one with HPD may use crying, fits of temper and seductive behaviour to draw attention to themselves.

HPD is almost 6 times more common in females than in males. This may be due to cultural factors; this type of behavior is more acceptable in our culture when displayed by a female than when it is displayed by a male.

Drugs are only very rarely used to treat this disorder; usually some sort of psychotherapy is used.

According to the DSM-IV, to be diagnosed with a histrionic personality disorder, you should exhibit at least five of the following:

  • Being uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention.
  • Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior.
  • Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions.
  • Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self.
  • Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail.
  • Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion.
  • Is suggestible, that is, is easily influenced by others or circumstances.
  • Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

This is the least severe of the 'Cluster B' personality disorders, but to be considered as a personality disorder at all it must be serious enough to interfere with healthy social functioning.

Differential Diagnosis:
This personality disorder overlaps, in some aspects, with these conditions: Borderline Personality Disorder; Antisocial Personality Disorder; Narcissistic Personality Disorder; Dependent Personality Disorder; Personality Change Due to a General Medical Condition; symptoms that may develop in association with chronic substance use.

In Europe, the ICD may be used in place of the DSM. It has slightly different diagnostic criteria; according to the ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, to be diagnosed with a histrionic personality disorder you must display at least three of the following:

  • Self-dramatization, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotions.
  • Suggestibility, easily influenced by others or by circumstances.
  • Shallow and labile affectivity.
  • Continual seeking for excitement, appreciation by others, and activities in which the patient is the centre of attention.
  • Inappropriate seductiveness in appearance or behaviour.
  • Over-concern with physical attractiveness.
Associated features may include egocentricity, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, feelings that are easily hurt, and persistent manipulative behaviour to achieve own needs.

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