Understanding Histrionic Personality Disorder

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What is Histrionic Personality Disorder? HPD (histrionic personality disorder) is one of several different types of personality disorder and is categorised as a dramatic or Cluster B disorder. People who have HPD have a distorted image of themselves, they suffer from extreme and unstable emotions and can be very dramatic.  Their feelings of self-esteem are…

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

HPD (histrionic personality disorder) is one of several different types of personality disorder and is categorised as a dramatic or Cluster B disorder.

People who have HPD have a distorted image of themselves, they suffer from extreme and unstable emotions and can be very dramatic.  Their feelings of self-esteem are based on the approval of others and not their own feelings of self-worth. 

They are attention seeking and feel insecure if they are not being noticed and can act in extreme and even sexually inappropriate ways in order to gain the attention they so desperately crave.  Despite this they can have good social skills making them successful at work but can use these to manipulate other people.    

Symptoms

·      Constantly seeking the approval or reassurance of others

·      Sensitivity to criticism or disapproval

·      Being overtly sexual or dressing in a sexual manner in inappropriate settings

·      Exaggerated emotions that can change rapidly

·      Feelings of discomfort when they are not the centre of attention

·      Be highly suggestible and influenced by other people’s opinions

·      Have overly dramatic behaviours or speech

·      Be self-centred

·      Not thinking before they act making rash decisions and taking unnecessary risks

·      Believe relationships are more serious or intimate than they actually are

·      Appear shallow and lacking empathy for other people

·      Being overly concerned about their physical appearance

·      Are easily bored and frustrated, disliking routine

·      Have problems maintaining relationships as they can seem fake or insincere

·      Threaten or attempt suicide to get attention

Causes

As with many mental health conditions the cause of HPD is not known, although it is widely believed to have both learned and inherited factors.  Whether it’s a family history of the condition or simply learned behaviours as a child.  A lack of positive reinforcement or boundaries in childhood could also contribute.  Symptoms appear in early adulthood, and it’s believed to affect women more than men, although this may be because overt sexual behaviour is often more socially accepted in men than women.

Professional Help

Like NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) which can sometimes overlap with HPD it can be difficult to treat, as people with these types of disorder don’t believe there is anything wrong with them.  They may seek help from their doctor for associated conditions, such as anxiety or depression, who can prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication to help. 

They can recommend seeking therapy to help with their HPD, which can be challenging for them as they tend to dislike routine and can exaggerate both their symptoms and their ability to function.  They can also resist behavioural boundaries that therapy can involve so this needs to be both supportive and solution focused.

Psychotherapy remains the most common and effective way to treat the condition, a form of talking therapy, it can help them to discover their underlying fears and motivations that drive their actions and behaviours.  They can then learn to retrain these negative thoughts and actions enabling them to relate to people in a more positive way.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK). For more free Information click above link.

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