Histrionic Personality Disorder

Nicholas Koch

In Case You Didn't Know...

A psychological disorder is classified as a behavioral pattern or mental process that causes serious personal suffering or interfere with a person's ability to cope with everyday life. You may not have known, but roughly one in four adults in the United States suffer from a psychological disorder. There are 16 categories (as far as we know) in which psychological disorders are classified; to name a few:

  • Anxiety-a generalized state of dread or uneasiness that occurs in response to a vague or imagined danger
  • Mood-characterized by the elevation or lowering of a person's mood
  • Dissociative-the separation of certain personality components or mental processes from conscious thought
  • Somatoform-the expression of psychological distress through physical symptoms
  • Schizophrenia-characterized by the loss of contact with reality
  • Personality-patterns of inflexible traits that disrupt social life or work which may distress the individual

Is There Such a Thing as Being OVER-Dramatic?

It's rather simple to label someone as being melodramatic--the girl who cries because her shoes got dirty, that one guy who freaks out whenever you change the channel during the
Superbowl, or maybe your mom who blows a gasket when you don't take out the trash (whether or not you chose to do so). We classify others as being histrionic constantly in our everyday lives.

However, some fail to draw the line which separates a temporarily histrionic person and one who appears as such incessantly. According to www.webmd.com, HPD is of a group of conditions called called "Cluster B" or "dramatic" personality disorders. Histrionic Personality Disorder is defined as a mental health condition that affects the way a person thinks, perceives, and relates to others; hence, the impact HPD can have upon a person's life may vary from hardly to greatly affected, depending upon the the severity of the patient's symptoms (which tend to be fairly great).


"Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes, Treatments." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

So, What ARE The Symptoms?

As somewhat explained in the name, those suffering from HPD, as www.webmd.com exhibits, are dramatic (as histrionic is defined as such). Those with HPD actually have good social skills; however, they tend to use these skills to manipulate others so that they can be the center of attention.

Don't automatically assume that the preppy girl who is obsessed with herself and is on the cheer-leading squad has HPD, though! A person with this disorder takes measures to the extreme and might also:

  • Shift emotions rapidly
  • Be excessively sensitive to criticism or disapproval
  • Make rash decisions
  • Appear overly concerned with appearance
  • Have difficulty maintaining relationships, often seeming fake or shallow in their dealings with others
  • Have a low tolerance of frustration and be easily bored by routine, often beginning projects without finishing them or skipping from one event to another
  • Be uncomfortable unless he or she is the center of attention
  • Threaten or attempt suicide for attention

It is often recognizable through the above symptoms when the studied patient repetitiously includes these actions throughout their behavioral pattern uncontrollably. So, next time you think a friend of yours is a victim of HPD, think about whether or not the person has always taken a situation to an extreme in terms of involving themselves for attention.


"Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes, Treatments." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Who And How?

As www.webmd.com comprehensively states, HPD is more common in women than in men and is usually evident by adolescence or early adulthood.

Currently, the exact cause of HPD 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. Personality disorders also usually develop in relation to individual temperament and psychological styles and ways people learn to cope with stress while growing up; therefore, scientists have struggled and presently juggle around these possibilities of how one could come to be afflicted with HPD.


"Histrionic Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes, Treatments." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

Is Treatment Available?

According to www.psychiatryonline.org, generally most patients with personality disorders are prescribed psychotropic medications (drugs which affect a person's mental state) with greater frequency than almost any other diagnostic group.

However, a separate article also from www.psychiatryonline.org claims HPD as different from other personality disorders in that no body of treatment research exists for HPD. No medications have been systematically studied, and clinicians do not think about medications as particularly useful for this group of patients mainly due to the confusion of how HPD is either passed down or learned through experience. Hence, psychotherapy (which involves verbal interactions between a trained professional and the patient) must be considered the cornerstone of treatment.


"Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapy for Personality Disorders." : FOCUS: Vol 11, No 2. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.

"Chapter 71. Histrionic Personality Disorder." Histrionic Personality Disorder : Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.