Histrionic Personality Disorder

The word personality describes deeply ingrained patterns of behavior and the manner in which individuals perceive, relate to, and think about themselves and their world. Personality traits are conspicuous features of personality and are not necessarily pathological, although certain styles of personality may cause interpersonal problems.

Personality disorders, though, are rigid, inflexible and maladaptive, causing impairment in functioning or internal distress. A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time and leads to distress or impairment.

Individuals with Histrionic Personality Disorder exhibit excessive emotionalism--a tendency to regard things in an emotional manner--and are attention seekers. People with this disorder are uncomfortable or feel unappreciated when they are not the center of attention. Behaviors may include constant seeking of approval or attention, self-dramatization, theatricality, and striking self-centeredness or sexual seductiveness in inappropriate situations, including social, occupational and professional relationships beyond what is appropriate for the social context. They may be lively and dramatic and initially charm new acquaintances by their enthusiasm, apparent openness, or flirtatiousness. They commandeer the role of "the life of the party". Personal interests and conversation will be self-focused. They use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves. Emotional expression may be shallow and rapidly shifting. Their style of speech is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail. They may do well with jobs that value and require imagination and creativity but will probably have difficulty with tasks that demand logical or analytical thinking. The disorder occurs more frequently in women though that may be because it is more often diagnosed in women than men.

Histrionic Personality Disorder. Last reviewed 12/31/1969
  • American Psychiatric Association
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Revised
  • National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine