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Theodore Millon: The Grandfather of Personality Science

written by: Rene Wolf • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 4/20/2011

Theodore Millon’s view is that each DSM personality disorder has a blend of one or more personality variants. This article discusses Millon’s six subtypes of histrionic personality disorder.

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    Who is Theodore Millon?

    Theodore Millon, PhD, D.Sc, is an American psychologist who received degrees from both European and American Universities, was on the board of trustees at Allentown State Hospital for 15 years and was the founding editor of the Journal of Personality Disorders. He was also the founding president of the International Society for the Study of Personality Disorders.

    Millon is a full professor at the University of Miami and Harvard Medical School and has authored several books regarding personality disorders, therapy and personality assessment, and is the dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Personology and Psychopathology.

    In 2008, the American Psychological Association awarded Millon the Gold Medal Award For Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology. “It is Millon's view that there are few pure variants of any personality prototype. Rather, most persons evidence a mixed picture, that is, a personality that tends to blend a major variant with one or more subsidiary or secondary variants” (Institute for advanced studies in Personology & Psychopathology: Theodore Millon PhD, D.Sc. Personality Subtypes).

    Due to his view of the different variants of each personality disorder, Theodore Millon devised a group of subtypes for each of the 16 DSM personality disorders. The following introduction to Theodore Millon and Millon's subtypes focuses on Millon's six subtypes of histrionic personality disorder.

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    Appeasing

    Appeasing histrionic personality subtype includes dependent and compulsive features. The appeasing histrionic personality attempts to pacify others in an attempt to sooth difficult situations. This type of histrionic is notorious for settling differences while sacrificing themselves for praise and approval. The person is dependent on the outbursts of others in order to mediate and introduce compromise to the situation, resulting in praise from others for solving a difficult situation.

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    Vivacious

    Vivacious histrionic personality subtype includes narcissistic features. The vivacious histrionic displays the typical behavior associated with a narcissistic disorder including being energetic, impulsive, bubbly, adventurous, overly charming and animated. The vivacious histrionic will often display these personality traits at inappropriate times.

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    Tempestuous

    Tempestuous histrionic personality subtype includes negativistic or passive-aggressive features. The tempestuous histrionic is impulsive, with out of control behaviors. Tempestuous histrionics are notorious for their unstable behavior and actions, for example they may be sulking one minute and violent the next. The tempestuous personality is often thought of as an emotional, confused, abrupt and moody individual often thriving on the creation of turmoil.

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    Disingenuous

    Disingenuous histrionic personality subtype includes antisocial features. Someone showing signs of a disingenuous histrionic personality will have behaviors very similar to those of antisocial personality disorder such as being egocentric, deceitful, scheming and contriving. Antisocial subtypes are experienced at convincing others to do as they ask and will often make false commitments in order to get what they want. The disingenuous histrionic is thought to be an extremely untrustworthy individual that has no concern for those who are affected by their behaviors.

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    Theatrical

    Theatrical histrionic personality subtype includes features that are dramatic, romantic and attention seeking. The theatrical histrionic is overly concerned with appearance and dramatizes both their looks and actions. These individuals will often “sell” themselves through graphic poses and theatrical emotions. They will also seek the attention of others through inappropriate actions. For example, the theatrical histrionic may become overly dramatic with their performance in response to a common question by sighing deeply and placing one hand to their forehead (striking a pose).

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    Infantile

    Infantile histrionic personality subtype includes borderline features. An infantile histrionic will often display childlike hysteria and/or volatile emotions similar to the behaviors found in borderline personalities. The infantile histrionic may be demanding, clingy and may become fixated on another individual. The individual may display childlike behaviors such as pouting, become hysterical during inappropriate situations and become labile (frequent change of emotions).

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    References

    Institute for advanced studies in Personology & psychopathology: Theodore Million PhD, D.Sc. Personality Subtypes http://www.millon.net/taxonomy/summary.htm

    Framingham, Jane, PhD., Psyche central: Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III) http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/millon-clinical-multiaxial-inventory-mcmi-iii/