Some individuals need to be the center of attention and attraction from time to time, wanting to keep the spotlight on themselves. However, if this need for attention and being the center of attraction turns into an extreme want for "all eyes on me" and a craving for other people's approval, they can be described as 'dramatic' or 'theatrical.' These individuals may have nearly an impossible capacity to maintain a genuinely healthy relationship with other people and lack empathy, display an exaggerated range of emotions, or even act inappropriately in a group setting to attract the crowd towards them. Such people fall under the group of personality disorders in cluster b and are said to suffer from a histrionic personality disorder.
A histrionic personality disorder is characterized by constant attention-seeking, seductive behavior, and overdramatic display of themselves. Individuals with this condition overreact to an emotional state and situation, resulting in impaired relationships and interpersonal conflicts. His histrionic word refers to being "dramatic" or "theatrical." Individuals with this disorder can feel unappreciated and uncomfortable when they are not the center of attraction. They may act seductively or inappropriately in social situations, occupational settings, or professional relationships. They are lively and dramatic and are found to be charming at the beginning of the friendship or relationship due to their enthusiasm, openness, or flirtatiousness. To keep the attention on themselves, they may act in an uncontrolled manner, such as crying uncontrollably over an incident or having an exaggerated emotional display of temper. These acts embarrass people they are with, creating an issue in their relationships.
Superficial emotions and manipulative behavior distinguish a histrionic personality disorder. In addition, attention-seeking behavior usually begins during early adulthood when an individual's personality begins to form. Individuals with this disorder have intense instability in emotions and a flawed self-image. Their self-esteem depends on acceptance and approval from their group and people around them and never on a feeling of self-worth.
Individuals with this disorder may seem charming and have good social skills. However, they use the skills to manipulate others and grab their attention. Symptoms of histrionic personality disorder are −
Dressing proactively or inappropriately exhibiting seductive of flirtatious behavior
Rapid changes of emotions
Uncomfortable unless they are the center of attention
Constantly seeking approval and reassurance
Obsessed with their physical appearance
Sensitive to criticism or rejection
Easily influenced by others
Rash decision making and not thinking before acting
Acting in a dramatic as if performing before and group of audience.
Shallow emotions with difficulty in managing them
Self-centered and lack empathy
Attempts or threats suicide for attention
People with histrionic personality disorder, previously called hysterical personality disorder, are emotional and typically described as emotionally charged and seeking a center of attention. Their extreme, exaggerated emotions and moods complicate an individual's life. Individuals with this order can try to draw attention to themselves by exaggerating their illnesses, such as fatigue or physical symptoms. They obsess about their looks and how other individuals perceive them. They often wear bright clothes with attention-grabbing colors and styles.
The psychodynamic perspective was originally formed to explain cases of Hysteria. Psychodynamic theorists believe that an individual with this histrionic personality disorder in their childhood was in an unhealthy relationship with their parents, who were cold and controlling. This left them feeling unloved and created a fear of abandonment. Individuals defended these deep-seated fears of loss by learning defense mechanisms and how to behave dramatically to gain attention and protection. They would often scream and cry, which made people protect and take care of them.
Cognitive theorists believe that individuals slowly adapt to becoming less interesting daily in their surroundings, leading them to become self-focused, self-centered, and emotional. Some theorists of this approach proposed that individuals with this disorder generally assume that they are incapable of taking care of themselves and need constant support from others to meet their needs.
The sociocultural approach believes cultural rules and expectations partly generate this disorder. Modern culture promotes girls to retain their youth and dependence as they age. The histrionic personality's arrogant, theatrical, and selfish behavior could be an exaggeration of femininity as contemporary society once defined it. Studies based on a few investigations revealed that Histrionic personality disorders were diagnosed less frequently in Asian and other cultures that oppose open sexuality and more frequently in Hispanic American and Latin American cultures that tolerate open sexuality.
Important points are −
About 2-3% of the population, women are four times more likely to get diagnosed with this disorder than men. Individuals suffering from this disorder tend to be ego-syntonic; they do not consider their behavior abnormal and struggle to find any issue within themselves, thus, leading to misinterpretation or underdiagnoses.
A histrionic personality disorder is challenging as many individuals do not find any problem within themselves or pretend to have improved during treatment only to please their therapist.
A histrionic personality disorder is a mental condition characterized by patterns of exaggerated emotion and attention-seeking behavior. This disorder falls under cluster b of personality disorders, and these clusters of personality disorders are described as erratic and dramatic. Individuals with a histrionic personality disorder are often seen as flirtatious, seductive, charming, manipulative, lively, and impulsive. These people can be said to be the life of the party and maybe vibrant. They demonstrate mood swings and shallow emotions. Treatment and coping skills help individuals maintain healthy relationships and minimize their symptoms.