crying, emotion, female, Histrionic personality disorder

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Click below to listen to this article:

Histrionic personality disorder

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a mental health condition that affects how people express their emotions and interact with others. People with HPD tend to seek attention, act dramatically, and display inappropriate sexual behaviour. They may also have difficulty coping with criticism, maintaining stable relationships, and recognizing the emotions of others. HPD is one of the cluster B personality disorders, which involve impulsive and erratic patterns of behaviour. This article with discuss the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of histrionic personality disorder as well as self-care practices that can help.

What is histrionic personality disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a mental health condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with HPD have a strong need for attention and approval, and often act in dramatic, emotional, or sexually provocative ways to get it. They may have difficulty forming stable and authentic relationships, and may struggle with self-esteem and identity issues.

The prevalence of HPD is estimated to be less than 2% of the general population, according to the MSD Manual Professional Edition. However, this may vary depending on the source and method of data collection. For example, the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions reported a prevalence of 1.84%, according to Psychology Today. HPD is diagnosed more often in women, but this may reflect a gender bias or a greater prevalence among women in clinical settings.

Sign up for our Newsletter!
We will send you regular updates regarding new articles, as well as hints and tips regarding self-transcendence. We aim to limit this to once per month, though some months we will have additional special editions covering significant articles worthy of being the sole focus of a newsletter. There will be no sales spam or selling your address to third parties.
History of histrionic personality disorder

The term histrionic derives from the ancient concept of hysteria, which was originally attributed to a wandering womb or a disorder of the female reproductive system. However, the history of HPD reveals how the understanding of this condition has evolved, reflecting different cultural and scientific perspectives.

One of the earliest references to hysteria can be found in an Egyptian medical papyrus dating from around 1990 BC, which described various symptoms of women’s afflictions caused by a displaced uterus. The Greek philosopher Plato also linked hysteria to the reproductive organs, suggesting that an unfulfilled desire for procreation could lead to physical and mental disturbances. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, coined the term hysteria and proposed that it was caused by a lack of sexual activity or an imbalance of bodily fluids.

During the Middle Ages, hysteria was associated with witchcraft, demonic possession, and religious fervour. Women who exhibited signs of hysteria were often persecuted, tortured, or exorcised by the church authorities. In the 16th and 17th centuries, hysteria was considered a nervous disorder that affected both men and women, and was treated with various methods such as bloodletting, purging, or applying magnets to the body.

The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed a resurgence of interest in hysteria, especially in France, where several prominent physicians such as Philippe Pinel, Jean-Martin Charcot, and Pierre Janet studied this phenomenon in detail. They observed that hysteria could manifest as various physical and psychological symptoms, such as paralysis, convulsions, amnesia, or dissociation. They also proposed that hysteria was caused by psychological trauma or emotional conflict, and could be cured by hypnosis, suggestion, or psychotherapy.

One of the most influential figures in the history of HPD was Sigmund Freud, who redefined hysteria as a form of neurosis resulting from repressed sexual impulses or childhood trauma. Freud believed that hysterical symptoms were symbolic expressions of unconscious wishes or conflicts, and that they could be resolved by bringing them to conscious awareness through psychoanalysis. Freud also distinguished between two types of hysteria: conversion hysteria, which involved physical symptoms without organic causes, and anxiety hysteria, which involved phobias or panic attacks.

During the 20th century, the term hysteria gradually fell out of favour in psychiatry, as new diagnostic categories emerged to describe different aspects of this complex condition. In 1952, the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I) included a category called “hysterical neurosis”, which was divided into two subtypes: conversion reaction and dissociative reaction. In 1968, the second edition of the DSM (DSM-II) introduced the term “histrionic personality disorder” to describe a personality type characterized by excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behaviour.

New article alerts!
We will notify you of new articles as soon as they are published. There will be no sales spam or selling your address to third parties.

Since then, HPD has been retained as a distinct personality disorder in subsequent editions of the DSM, although its criteria have been revised over time. According to the current edition (DSM-5), HPD is defined by a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

Symptoms of histrionic personality disorder

Some of the features of HPD include:

  • Being uncomfortable in situations where they are not the centre of attention
  • Displaying inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour
  • Shifting rapidly and shallowly from one emotion to another
  • Using physical appearance to draw attention to themselves
  • Having a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  • Showing self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
  • Being easily influenced by others or by current circumstances
  • Considering relationships to be more intimate than they actually are

HPD is diagnosed based on clinical criteria, such as the presence of at least five of the above symptoms.

Causes of HPD

The exact cause of HPD is unknown, but it is likely influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some possible risk factors for developing HPD include:

– Having a parent or relative with HPD or another personality disorder
– Having an authoritarian or neglectful parenting style
– Experiencing trauma or abuse in childhood
– Having low self-esteem or poor coping skills
– Living in a culture that values appearance or emotionality over substance

Similarities with other conditions

HPD shares some similarities with other mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and bipolar disorder. However, there are also important differences that distinguish HPD from these disorders.

One of the main similarities between HPD and BPD is the fear of abandonment and rejection. Both disorders involve insecure attachment styles, which are patterns of relating to others that are influenced by early childhood experiences. People with HPD and BPD may have experienced inconsistent, neglectful, or abusive caregiving, which made them develop a negative self-image and a distrust of others. As a result, they may seek constant reassurance, validation, and affection from their partners, friends, or family members, and react with anger, anxiety, or depression when they perceive a threat of losing them. They may also engage in self-harm, substance abuse, or suicidal behaviours as a way of coping with their emotional distress.

A similarity between HPD and NPD is the exaggerated sense of self-importance and the need for admiration. Both disorders involve a distorted self-concept, which is the way one views oneself and one’s abilities. People with HPD and NPD may have a grandiose or inflated self-image, which makes them believe that they are superior, special, or unique. They may also have a fragile or vulnerable self-image, which makes them feel insecure, inadequate, or ashamed. To compensate for their low self-esteem, they may seek attention, praise, and recognition from others, and display arrogant, boastful, or pretentious behaviour. They may also lack empathy, exploit others, or envy those who have more than them.

A similarity between HPD and bipolar disorder is the presence of mood swings and emotional instability. Both disorders involve fluctuations in mood and energy levels, which can affect one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. People with HPD and bipolar disorder may experience periods of euphoria, excitement, or irritability, followed by periods of sadness, hopelessness, or guilt. They may also have difficulty regulating their impulses and impulses to control their emotions. Also, they may act impulsively without considering the consequences of their actions. They may also have trouble focusing on tasks or maintaining a consistent routine.

However, there are also significant differences between HPD and these other mental health conditions. One of the main differences is the degree of insight and awareness that people with HPD have about their problems. Unlike people with BPD, NPD, or bipolar disorder who may deny or minimize their symptoms or blame others for their difficulties’ people with HPD tend to acknowledge and exaggerate their problems. They may dramatize their feelings and situations to elicit sympathy or support from others. They may also seek professional help more readily than people with other disorders.

Another difference is the type of attention that people with HPD seek from others. Unlike people with BPD who seek emotional intimacy and closeness from others, people with HPD seek superficial attention and admiration from others. They may use their physical appearance, sexuality, charm or humour to attract others. They may also flirt, seduce or provoke others to create excitement or drama in their relationships. Furthermore, they may not care about the quality or depth of their connections as long as they feel noticed and appreciated.

A third difference is the nature of the mood swings that people with HPD experience compared to those with bipolar disorder. Unlike people with bipolar disorder, who have distinct episodes of mania or depression that last for days, weeks or months, people with HPD have rapid shifts in mood that last for hours or minutes. Their mood changes are often triggered by external events such as praise, criticism, rejection or boredom rather than by internal factors such as biological rhythms or hormonal changes. Their mood swings are also less severe than those with bipolar disorder, as they do not impair their functioning significantly.

In conclusion, histrionic personality disorder is a complex and multifaceted condition that shares some similarities but also has important differences from other mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar disorder. Understanding these similarities and differences can help clinicians diagnose, treat and support people with HPD more effectively.

Treatment of HPD

The treatment of HPD typically involves psychotherapy, which aims to help the person understand their underlying motives and needs, develop a more realistic and positive self-image, improve their interpersonal skills and relationships, and cope with stress and emotions more effectively. Some types of psychotherapy that may be helpful for HPD include:

cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on identifying and challenging distorted thoughts and beliefs that contribute to histrionic behaviour and emotions

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which teaches skills for emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness

Psychodynamic therapy, which explores the unconscious conflicts and childhood experiences that shape the person’s personality and behaviour

Schema therapy, which identifies and modifies maladaptive schemas or core beliefs that underlie the person’s histrionic patterns

Functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP), which uses the therapeutic relationship as a context for reinforcing positive behaviours and reducing negative ones

In some cases, medication may also be prescribed to treat co-occurring conditions that may accompany HPD, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. However, medication alone is not sufficient to treat HPD, and should be used with psychotherapy.

HPD is a complex and controversial disorder that has a long and rich history in psychiatry. Although it is often misunderstood or stigmatized, it is possible for people with HPD to overcome their challenges and lead fulfilling and productive lives with proper treatment and support.

Can self-transcendence help with histrionic personality disorder

self-transcendence is a psychological construct that refers to the ability to go beyond one’s personal ego and connect with something greater, such as a higher purpose, a spiritual dimension, or a universal value. self-transcendence can foster a sense of meaning, fulfilment, and wellbeing in life. It can also help people cope with stress, adversity, and existential challenges.

Some researchers have suggested that self-transcendence may be beneficial for people with HPD, as it can help them develop a more realistic and positive self-concept, reduce their dependency on external validation, and increase their empathy and compassion for others. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support this hypothesis, and more studies are needed to explore the potential mechanisms and outcomes of self-transcendence interventions for HPD.

One possible way to facilitate self-transcendence in people with HPD is through mindfulness-based practices, such as meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. These practices can help people cultivate awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without judging or reacting to them. This can enhance their ability to regulate their emotions, accept themselves as they are, and detach from their egoistic needs and desires. Another possible way to foster self-transcendence in people with HPD is through existential therapy, which focuses on helping people find meaning and purpose in their lives, confront their mortality and limitations, and transcend their fears and anxieties. This can help them develop a more authentic and integrated sense of self, and a deeper connection with others and the world.

Further reading

If you would like to learn more about histrionic personality disorder, here are some weblinks with URLs for further reading:

Histrionic Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Histrionic personality disorder – Wikipedia

What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)? – Verywell Mind

Histrionic Personality Disorder | Psychology Today

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content