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In psychiatry, histrionic personality disorder is a personality
disorder which involves a pattern of excessive emotional expression and
attention-seeking, including an excessive need for approval and
inappropriate seductiveness, that usually begins in early adulthood.
The essential feature of the histrionic personality disorder is a
pervasive and excessive pattern of emotionality and attention-seeking
behavior. These individuals are lively, dramatic, enthusiastic, and
flirtatious. They may be inappropriately sexually provocative, express
strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and be easily influenced
The cause of this disorder is unknown, but childhood events and genetics
may both be involved. It occurs more frequently in women than in men,
although some feel it is simply more often diagnosed in women because
attention-seeking and sexual forwardness is less socially acceptable for
People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level
and can be successful socially and at work. They may seek treatment for
depression when romantic relationships end. They often fail to see their
own situation realistically, instead tending to overdramatize and
exaggerate. Responsibility for failure or disappointment is usually
blamed on others.
The symptoms include:
- Constant seeking of reassurance or approval
- Excessive dramatics with exaggerated displays of emotions
- Excessive sensitivity to criticism or disapproval
- Inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior
- Excessive concern with physical appearance
- A need to be the center of attention (self-centeredness)
- Low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification
- Rapidly shifting emotional states that may appear shallow to others
- Opinions are easily influenced by other people, but difficult to back up
- Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate than they
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The person's appearance, behavior, and history, and a psychological
evaluation are usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis. There is
no test to confirm this diagnosis. Because the criteria are subjective,
some people may be wrongly diagnosed as having the disorder while others
with the disorder may not be diagnosed.
Treatment is often prompted by depression associated with dissolved
romantic relationships. Medication does little to affect this
personality disorder, but may be helpful with complications such as
depression. Psychotherapy may also be of benefit.
Histrionic personality disorder does not usually affect the person's
ability to function adequately in a superficial work or social
environment. However, problems often arise in more intimate
relationships, where deeper involvements are required. Histrionic
personality disorder may affect a person's social or romantic
relationships or their ability to cope with losses or failures. They may
go through frequent job changes, as they become easily bored and have
trouble dealing with frustration. Because they tend to crave novelty and
excitement, they may place themselves in risky situations. All of these
factors may lead to greater risk of developing depression.