What is Histrionic Personality Disorder

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder


Are you wondering: What is a histrionic personality? What does histrionic mean? What is Histrionic Personality Disorder? What does HPD look like?

Histrionic personalities are flamboyant, melodramatic attention-seekers.

A histrionic person may be the life of the party and draw a partner in with their enthusiasm, charm, and seduction, but then wear the partner out with their need to be the center of the universe.


What's in This Post

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)?
Official Criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder
What are the Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder?
 Suicide and Histrionic Personality Disorder
Narcissistic Personality vs Histrionic Personality
Books About Partner Abuse


What is Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

The root of the word histrionic is the same as that of hysterical.

When you think of histrionic personality disorder, think "drama."

Histrionic people are dramatic and they tend to create drama.

They can put on a show to draw you close, but after a while, it's not going to be a pleasant place to be. 

National Institute of Health, Histrionic Personality Disorder website page offers this description:

"People with histrionic personality disorder are typically characterized as flirtatious, seductive, charming, manipulative, impulsive, and lively."

While there are 10 official personality disorders in the psychology diagnostic handbook, 4 of them (Histrionic, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Anti-Social) form what is known as Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B personalities share traits that make them dramatic, emotional, and erratic. Each has problems with impulse control and emotional regulation. Each is driven by self-centered motivations that don't take into account collateral damage from the selfish behaviors and attitudes. 


During the 2022 Johnny Depp v Amber Heard defamation trial, forensic psychologist, Dr Curry, testified that she diagnosed Amber as having both Borderline and Histrionic personality disorders. 

Her testimony gives insights into what Histrionic Personality Disorder looks like

Dr Curry testimony Amber Heard Histrionic Personality Disorder diagnosis




Official Criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the diagnostic criteria source used by mental health and medical professionals.

For a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder, patients must have a persistent pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.

This pattern is shown by the presence of at least 5 of the following:

  1. Discomfort when they are not the center of attention

  2. Interaction with others that is inappropriately sexually seductive or provocative

  3. Rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions

  4. Consistent use of physical appearance to call attention to themselves

  5. Speech that is extremely impressionistic and vague

  6. Self-dramatization, theatricality, and extravagant expression of emotion

  7. Suggestibility (easily influenced by others or situations)

  8. Interpretation of relationships as more intimate than they are

Also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood.


What are the Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Histrionic Personality Disorder Traits


What do histrionic traits look like? How are they displayed? How do they play out in people's lives?

Histrionic traits include the following (not all are necessarily present in an individual):

  • dramatic

  • over-the-top emotions

  • overly enthusiastic

  • rapidly flipping emotions

  • craves being the center of attention

  • feels put out if not the center of attention

  • uses physical appearance to get attention

  • envious of others who get attention

  • flirtatious

  • seductive

  • excessive need for approval

  • overly sensitive to criticism

  • self-indulgent

  • self-centered

  • tends to think relationships are more intimate than they really are

  • easily influenced by other people

  • manipulative

  • willing to lie and make up stories to get attention

  • overspends on physical “trappings” (clothes, makeup . . .)

  • blames others for her shortcomings and disappointments

  • expresses strong, passionate opinions that she can’t back up with detail or reason

  • has trouble with delaying gratification: wants gratification right now

  • uses suicide threats to gain attention and manipulate

    Suicide and Histrionic Personality Disorder

    Like people with borderline personality, people with histrionic personality may threaten suicide; however, there is a major difference regarding suicide between the two personalities.

    While 8–10% of people with BPD complete suicides, completed suicides among people with Histrionic Personality Disorder is much less characteristic. 

    (Reference: American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 664, 668.)


    Narcissistic Personality vs Histrionic Personality

    There are similarities between people officially diagnosed as narcissistic and those officially diagnosed as histrionic.

    A key point of differentiation between these 2 personalities appears on the National Institute of Health, Histrionic Personality Disorder website page:

    "patients with narcissistic personality disorder want attention, which results from admiration or veneration, whereas people with histrionic personality disorder are not particular about what type of attention they garner."


    Books About Partner Abuse

    As you can see from the list of Histrionic Personality Disorder symptoms, these personality can drive abusive behavior.

    HPD made my list of issues that can contribute to partner abuse. 

    I've written several books to help individuals and couples who are dealing with partner abuse and those who are recovering from an abusive relationship.

    These books are also written to educate people who are trying to avoid being abused or abusive, the families and friends of people dealing with partner abuse, helping professionals, and anyone interested in expanding their understanding of partner abuse in all it's forms and gender configurations. 

    Partner Abuse Books by Ann Silvers


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