Individuals with a Histrionic Personality Disorder are attention seekers and display excessive emotionalism and need to feel that they are the center of attention in order to feel comfortable and appreciated. These individuals constantly seek approval and attention from others, are very self-centered, and may also seek to sexually seduce people where they work or with whom they have a professional relationship without considering the repercussions.
People with a Histrionic Personality Disorder also often seek to be “the life of the party”, seem very charming to people who have never met them before, and always seek to bring the focus of any conversation back to themselves and their own interests. These individuals also like to use their physical appearance to gain the attention of others.
Those with a Histrionic Personality disorder tend to dress very seductively, behave very emotionally and dramatically, fail to take responsibility for their own shortcomings, are very thin-skinned, are always seeking approval from others, easily influenced by others, may be seen as shallow by those around them, and overly concerned about how they look.
Since a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder is often surrounded by judgment and discrimination, and patients are often reluctant to accept this label, doctors are very careful with their verdict.
While mild traits of histrionic personality disorder are perfectly normal and common in the majority of individuals, mental health professionals base their diagnosis on specific criteria that take into account how such traits actually affect the ability to conduct a normal life and have healthy interactions with others.
The cause of this disorder is largely unknown, though there are many emotional and mental factors that are believed to cause it. In addition, there is believed to be genetic component for many patients. There are many patients who are influenced by childhood events and develop this disorder due to the attention they received as children. People with parents who have this disorder are more likely to develop it, but it’s unclear whether this is learned behavior or a genetic predisposition. Women are more at risk of developing it than men.
Some of the possible environmental causes may be getting no criticism as a child and never receiving punishment. When the attention that a child receives is unpredictable, that child may develop a need for attention that magnifies as he or she gets older. The individual temperament of the sufferer may also be a factor. The attention-seeking and risk-prone behavior of this disorder may develop as a way for the patient to cope with stress as they grow up.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help individuals with a Histrionic Personality Disorder examine what experiences, thoughts, and feelings are causing them to behave the way they do. The hope is that these individuals will learn to change their thoughts and, in turn, their behaviors for improved relationships with others. Talk therapy is also employed to get individuals to speak openly about their experiences and thoughts in order to identify and change thoughts leading to negative behaviors.
One of the best ways to prevent histrionic personality disorder is to parent a child so that he or she knows how to get positive attention. Appropriate punishments and criticisms are expected as a way to let a child know that wrong behavior should be corrected. Once adulthood has arrived, prevention can be achieved through therapy and possibly medication. Some patients take anti-depressant medications to cope with the depression that this condition can cause. Some take anti-anxiety medication to calm their emotions and allow for recovery from this disorder.
Through talk therapy, patients can learn other ways to deal with people and to have more positive interactions. This can improve relationships and ease depression. With a dedicated therapist and the practice of behavior-modification techniques, patients can prevent the condition from getting worse.