Histrionic Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment & Case Studies

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  • 0:00 Histrionic Personality…
  • 2:15 Diagnostic Criteria
  • 3:27 Frequency & Comorbidity
  • 4:01 Treatment Options
  • 4:54 Case Studies
  • 5:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ron Fritz
Learn about histrionic personality disorder and what the symptoms are for someone who suffers from this disorder. Learn about treatment options and see why individuals with histrionic personality disorder often don't seek treatment.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Do you remember that girl in high school who always wore new clothes and the latest fashions? Her hair was usually flawless and her makeup was always perfect. She was the one who would walk up to a group and immediately assume control of the conversation. She flirted constantly with the guys and didn't have many close girlfriends; mostly because she made the girls jealous by making advances toward their boyfriends. You remember her now?

There is a good chance that once she reached 18 she could have been diagnosed with Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). Like all other personality disorders, an individual must be over 18 to be diagnosed with HPD

The word histrionic means 'to be overly theatrical or melodramatic.' Therefore, suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder would logically imply that these individuals exhibit behaviors designed to draw attention to themselves. People with HPD become uncomfortable and feel unappreciated when they are not the center of attention.

These individuals become the life of the party in social settings. If they are not the center of attention they may do something overly dramatic to draw the focus of attention to themselves. Their appearance is often inappropriately provocative in an attempt to draw the attention of the opposite sex. They may act seductively toward others in inappropriate social settings, such as at their place of employment or at the mall with a complete stranger.

People with HPD often think relationships are more intimate than they really are. Caressing the hand or giving a hug to someone they have just met is very typical behavior. Likewise, assuming they are on a first-name basis with someone in a professional capacity seems perfectly fine to them. Ironically, these same individuals may experience difficulty expressing intimacy in romantic or sexual relationships. Someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder may also have problems with same-sex friendships because their provocative behavior tends to alienate these acquaintances.

Diagnostic Criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version four (DSM-IV) defines Histrionic Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts. The DSM-IV further states that five of the following eight criteria must be met by a patient for a diagnosis of HPD to be given:

  1. Is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention
  2. Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate, sexually seductive, or provocative behavior
  3. Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
  4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
  5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  6. Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
  7. Is suggestible
  8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are

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