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Histrionic personality disorder

2-minute read

People with histrionic personality disorder can seem highly dramatic and approval seeking. The condition can sometimes be linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of histrionic personality disorder

Some people with histrionic personality disorder have been attracted to the performing arts, and become successful, but lived deeply troubled lives. Several high-profile personalities have also been thought to have histrionic personality disorder along with other personality disorders.

The main characteristics of a histrionic personality are:

  • constantly seeking attention
  • being uncomfortable in situations where they are not the centre of attention
  • displaying inappropriate seductive or sexually provocative behaviour
  • showing emotions that appear to be shallow and change rapidly
  • using physical appearance to gain attention
  • speaking vaguely, lacking in detail
  • displaying dramatic and theatrical behaviour with exaggerated emotion
  • being easily influenced by others or circumstances
  • considering relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
  • being easily influenced by others

If it is histrionic personality disorder, these symptoms will have begun by early adulthood.

Many people have some of these traits but are still able to function normally and do not have a personality disorder. A personality disorder is a long-term pattern of behaviour, thinking and emotions that causes distress to the person or those around them, and makes it difficult for the person to function in everyday life. People with personality disorders find it hard to change their behaviour or adapt to different situations. They may have trouble forming positive relationships with others or sustaining a job.

What causes histrionic personality disorder?

The cause is not completely known. Some people with histrionic personality disorder have come from families where personality disorders are common. Some experienced abuse, trauma or neglect during their childhood. Some come from normal and happy families.

Diagnosing histrionic personality disorder

A diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder can only be made in an adult, not a child, and should be made only by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist who gets to know the person over a period of time.

Get more information here on how to access mental health services in Australia.

Histrionic personality disorder treatment

The main form of treatment for histrionic personality disorder is long-term psychological therapy.

Some people with histrionic personality disorder have problems with drug and alcohol use, with anxiety or with depression. These will need to be treated as well.

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Last reviewed: August 2019

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