The Millstone Times February 2022

Histrionic Personality Disorder By Pam Teel Someone with Histrionic Personality (HPD) disorder relies on the approval of others to boost their self-es- teem. Another words, they have an overwhelming need to be noticed. This need can lead to dramatic be- havior and inappropriate behavior in order to get attention. People with Histrionic Personality Disorder, also known as Dramatic Personality Disorder, have intense, unstable emotions and distorted self-images. Their self-esteem does not arise from a true feeling of self- worth, but from the approval of others. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed and often behave dramatically inappropriate for attention. The word histrionic means “dramatic or theatrical.” The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is not known, but many mental health professionals believe that both learned and inherited factors play a role in its development. For example, the tendency for histrionic personality disorder to run in families suggests that a genetic susceptibility for the disorder might be inherited. However, the child of a parent with this disorder might simply be repeating learned behavior.

Other environmental factors that might be involved include a lack of criticism or punishment as a child, positive reinforcement that is given only when a child completes certain approved behaviors, and unpredictable attention given to a child by his or her parent(s), all leading to confusion about what types of behavior earn parental approval. In many cases, people with histrionic personality disorder have good social skills; however, they tend to use these skills to manipulate others so that they can be the center of attention. A person with this disorder might also be uncomfortable unless they are the center of attention, dress different to stand out in a crowd, and be extremely flirtatious. They shift emotions quickly and act as though they are performing for an audience. They can be overly concerned with physical appearance, seek constant reassurance or approval, be easily influenced by others, excessively sensitive to dis- approval, and easily bored. Often, they start projects but don’t finish them. They are not thinking before acting. They make rash decisions, are self-centered, and rarely show concern for others. They can also have difficulty maintaining any kind of long-lasting relationship. They often seem fake or shallow in their dealings with others, threaten to attempt suicide just to get attention, and take risks with their own lives just to thrust into the limelight. They are constantly performing to gain attention, they experience fleeting moods, opinions, and beliefs, and are also very suggestible and quick to respond to fads. They need others to witness their emotional displays in order to gain validation or attention and use sexually provocative behaviors to control others or gain attention. ... continued on page 45

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