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What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/25/2010

What is histrionic personality disorder? Histrionic personality disorder is a condition where affected patients show inappropriate behavior just to solicit attention for other people. Learn more about the different symptoms and causes of this condition.

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    About Histrionic Personality Disorder

    What is histrionic personality disorder? This belongs to a group of conditions referred to as dramatic personality disorders. People who have histrionic personality disorders usually have unstable and intense emotions. Their self esteem rests largely on how other people view them. They often need to be noticed by other people, and thus resort to dramatic and inappropriate ways to get their attention. For instance, they may dress weirdly, or provocatively, and may act in a flirtatious manner. Histrionic personality disorder occurs more frequently in women and becomes apparent in early adulthood.

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    Causes

    Researchers continue to look for the exact cause of histrionic personality disorder, although many experts believe that both genetics and social factors contribute to its development. For instance, histrionic personality disorder may run in the family, suggesting that the disorder can be inherited. It is also said that a child of an individual with the disorder may also be showing symptoms of the condition as a way of repeating what he or she has seen or learned while growing up.

    Social factors may also play some roles in the development of the disorder, especially among those who were never subjected to criticisms or punished as a child. Some children who only receive positive affirmations or who are given unpredictable attention from their parents can become confused as to what kind of behavior is really acceptable. Likewise, those who were given limited attention and care by their parents are said to be more likely to develop histrionic personality disorder.

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    Diagnosis

    Physical examination and checking of medical history are often taken into account in evaluating patients suspected of having histrionic personality disorder. While there are no laboratory tests that can specifically diagnose any type of personality disorder, testing may still be conducted to rule out physical illnesses as the probable causes of these symptoms.

    When there are no physical reasons for the observed symptoms, the patient is often referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist. These professionals then make use of various interview and assessment methods to further evaluate the patient.

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    Treatment

    A type of counseling called psychotherapy is usually the treatment option for individuals with histrionic personality disorder. This treatment aims to help them to share their thoughts and behavioral motivations, and let them learn how to relate to other people in a less dramatic or histrionic way.

    Some patients with accompanying symptoms of depression and anxiety may be given medications to address these symptoms.

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    Complications

    What is histrionic personality disorder and what are its complications? Some patients with histrionic personality disorder are able to work and function socially without too many problems. However, in more severe cases the disorder can significantly interfere with a patient's relationships as well as placing them at a greater risk of depression than the general population.

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    References

    Cleveland Clinic: Histrionic Personality Disorder

    MedlinePlus: Histrionic Personality Disorder