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Histrionic personality disorder: what is it?

Histrionic personality disorder: what is it?

July 14, 2024

What is the histrionic personality?

It is often said that someone has a histrionic personality when his behavior presents patterns of showmanship, dramatization and, ultimately, of actions and attitudes that seek to attract the attention of others.

How are the histrionic people?

In order to focus the attention of the people around them, it is usual that individuals with a tendency to histrionics can use strategies like seduction or victimhood.

Histrionics with a tendency to seduction

The histrionic personality that tends to use seduction recurrently is usually well valued by others. In fact, they are people with a good capacity to socially relate, and they usually have good positions in companies thanks to their people skills and loquacity . However, when they are not able to monopolize attention, they are susceptible and tend to victimize, saying they do not feel valued or understood.

The histrionic people they live in a continuous flow of emotions and feelings . They are very emotionally unstable, and therefore their mood fluctuates rapidly; they can go from being happy and laughing to being sad and melancholy.

Discovering Histrionic Personality Disorder

When the personality traits that we associate with histrionics become chronic, they can result in a picture that mental health experts know as Histrionic Personality Disorder .

Traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder

The traits, signs and behaviors characteristic of the Histrionic Personality Disorder are the following:

  • Exaggeratingly "seductive" behavior towards other people. They can assume and take to the extreme certain traditional sexual roles
  • Influential . They tend to get carried away by the opinions and advice of others
  • Very worried about his image and its aesthetics
  • Dramatics . They take emotions to the extreme, both positive and negative
  • Susceptibility . They are excessively vulnerable to criticism from other people
  • They tend to perceive as very close and intimate some personal relationships that are actually superficial
  • Blame others for their own failures or disappointments
  • Permanently seek the approval and trust of others (Wendy's syndrome)
  • Very little tolerance to frustration
  • Episodes of intense emotion, losing control
  • Recurrently seek to be the center of attention
  • Constantly changing mood , without stability


The histrionic personality usually begins to take shape during childhood, although it is usually noted that It is evidenced during adolescence . There is no single cause of histrionics, but rather a series of factors that can influence: a too absent and attentive parental style, psychological abuse, having suffered scorn and humiliation, or an educational style without clear guidelines and limits.

Other factors, such as low self-esteem, feeling dissatisfied with physical appearance and insecurity can promote this type of personality to be consolidated and maintained.

Practical tips

Living with a person who presents these traits can be complicated.

To try to help him to become aware that his way of acting is dysfunctional, and also to prevent nearby people from also being affected psychologically , we have prepared this list with different points to take into account.

1. Accept reality

Sometimes it can be difficult to accept things as they are. And more if the person near us has behaviors that we do not understand. But nevertheless, this does not mean that we should not act to try to change the situation .

It is important that we take into account that the histrionic personality is not the result of caprice, but rather a dysfunctional and consolidated way of expressing oneself. Of course, we should avoid saying phrases like: "You should not ride these little scenes". For the affected person, their perception of these expressions is not like that. The histrionic person sees nothing unusual in how he expresses his emotions, because they are behaviors that are very consolidated in their personality .

Therefore, we must bear in mind that they are people with serious difficulties to control their emotions and that they have a distorted and unreal perception, something that surely affects them more than we think. It is not a good idea to treat these people in a charitable and compassionate way, since we would be reinforcing his victimist behavior . We have to make them see that we all have our oddities and difficulties in life, and that no one is perfect.

2. Establish clear limits

That we accept his personality does not mean that we do not try to remedy, nor that we should be soft and submissive before the histrionic people.We can be understanding but at the same time establish clear frames: it's no use justifying everything .

We must try to act with moderation and objectivity, and note that we are also worthy of respect. When the histrionic person enters one of his phases of excessive expression of his feelings, we must stay firm, but educated . For example, we can say: "It seems to me that right now you are very upset, in a while I will come back and we can talk about what happened. The situation is bad for me and it is important that we can understand each other "either: "I can not allow you to disrespect me. I respect you and value you, and that's why I do not understand your attitude. The moment you become aware of this, we can talk again about this issue ".

3. Do not fall for certain traps

It is not a good idea to enter your manipulations and games . You must treat these types of people as adults, even though they can show childish behaviors. If you follow the game and act as if you were his father or you put yourself at his level, the relationship ends up entering swampy terrain and neither you nor she earn anything.

If you are able to communicate with this person face to face and with responsibility and tact, he will give up trying to make you play his game.

4. Let's positively reinforce your adult behaviors

When this person behaves in an adult and mature way, you should notice that our attention to her is greater . In the moment in which his habitual histrionic behavior gives way to responsibility and maturity, we must value it and make him notice that we like that.

In fact, it is sometimes easier to discourage dysfunctional behavior positively reinforcing the contrary behavior when it occurs . In summary, you should note that we are dry and sharp (but educated) when behaving in a histrionic way, but that we are nevertheless attentive and positive when it shows adult behaviors.

5. Do not mock or despise

This point is important: we should not laugh or make fun of a person with this problem . Although in many areas of life humor can be a good escape valve and can relativize problems, in the case of histrionic personalities is not advisable since it could have more negative than positive effects.

If you perceive that you despise them and that you do not have them respect, you can be encouraging that their emotions are still more altered. Keep in mind that they are very susceptible people and that it will not help them at all to notice that others mock and treat them without respect.

6. Act with prudence

It is important that We maintain criteria of prudence and responsibility . If we do not, we can go from being angels to demons in a second. Histrionic people tend to move from idealization to hatred towards people close to them.

They follow a logic of extremes. So, we should not feel overly praised when they flatter us , because in a short time it can happen to denigrate us and our feelings will be affected. In an extreme case, if we do not take enough distance with their opinions and evaluations, we may acquire some emotional instability. To avoid this, we need to relativize their opinions about us.

Treatment for the histrionic personality

People who have histrionic personality traits suffer from a series of situations that cause them discomfort and reinforce their dysfunctional behaviors.

The underlying problem is that they do not perceive their behaviors as negative, and therefore they fall victim to and do not go to a mental health professional that can offer them a therapy according to their needs.

Actually, the histrionic people end up going to therapy when the circumstances of their life have worsened or they have suffered some emotional bumping, for example after a sentimental break, by generalized anxiety or by depressive pictures.

Psychotherapists usually agree that, once the therapy has begun, the main stumbling block is usually inconstancy and little commitment to it , with relatively high levels of treatment abandonment within a few weeks.

Bibliographic references:

  • López-Ibor Aliño, Juan J. & Valdés Miyar, Manuel (dir.) (2002). DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Revised text Barcelona: Editorial Masson.
  • Luciano, M.C. (nineteen ninety six). Manual of clinical psychology. Childhood and adolescence Valencia: Promolibro.
  • Millon, Theodore & Davis, Roger D. (1998). Personality disorders. Beyond the DSM-IV. Barcelona: Editorial Masson.
  • Pérez, M., Fernández-Hermida, J.R., Fernández Rodríguez, C. and Amigo, I. (2003). Guide to effective psychological treatments. Madrid: Pyramid.

What's Histrionic Personality Disorder? Mental Health treatment, help & therapy with Kati Morton (July 2024).

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