Despite the fact that histrionic personality disorder is commonly causes people to try to gain attention from others, it isn’t particularly a public mental disorder. And while it can be joked that all celebrities have this disorder, no celebrities have ever claimed to have been diagnosed with it. Oddly, because attention grabbing has become so normalized in modern society, most people probably aren’t even aware if someone in their life has histrionic personality disorder.
- Histrionic personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an unrelenting need to receive attention, praise, and approval from others.
Like all mental disorders, histrionic personality disorder represents a pattern of such behavior that lasts six months or more. This disorder can reveal itself in a wide variety of behavior, including sexual promiscuity, attention seeking, risk taking (both physically and socially), and inappropriate emotional reactions, just to name a few examples.
The DSM-5 defines eight unique symptoms that are commonly found in people that are suffering from histrionic personality disorder. Of these following eight symptoms, at least five must be present, as a pattern of behavior that is not associated with drugs, alcohol, or any form of psychiatric episode:
- Feelings of discomfort when present in social situations where not the center of attention
- Engaging in sexually intimate or sexually provocative behavior in highly inappropriate circumstances
- Experiencing multiple shallow emotions in quick succession
- Regularly attempting to draw the attention of others through physical appearance
- Speaking dramatically but without any real specifics
- A tendency to highly exaggerate expressed emotions, real or otherwise
- Being highly susceptible to influence by others in almost any situation
- Identifies a higher level of intimacy in relationships than actually exists
In order to properly diagnose histrionic personality disorder, medical health professionals will engage in a mental evaluation in a controlled environment. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine which symptoms are present, how long they have been present, and if there are any other possible causes for those symptoms.
Finally, diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder must specifically rule out drugs or alcohol as a cause for symptoms. This can be particularly difficult in many cases because drug and alcohol use is a common way that people suffering from this disorder will try to gain attention.
There is no known specific cause of histrionic personality disorder. There are, however, many factors that have been loosely associated with histrionic personality disorder. The strongest factor appears to be genetics, with studies showing a higher likelihood of developing the disorder when a blood relative has it. Other factors include influential actions by parents or guardians during childhood, the development of certain neurotransmitters, and overlap with other mental disorders.
Like most mental disorders, there is no actual cure for histrionic personality disorder. However, there are a few treatments that show positive benefits in the lives of patients. The most common treatment, and generally the most successful, is cognitive behavioral therapy. Other forms of therapy, including group therapy and psychotherapy, also have success in specific cases.
As for other forms of treatment, medication is not valuable for treatment of this disorder, but may help assuage some symptoms. Finally, for patients that have taken to using drugs or alcohol as a symptom of this disorder, rehabilitation is usually necessary as part of treatment or before treatment for this disorder can begin.