By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c
“The world cannot be the mirror to your soul.” ~MakeItUltra™
I was recently asked to explain histrionic personality disorder also known as HPD. Histrionic personality disorder is a psychological disorder that can affect both men and women. A person wth HPD will have an insatiable need to be the center of attention. It is as though they have a hole in their soul. They often are described as drama queens and display outlandish dramatic behavior to get the attention they crave. A person with HPD has no sense of self and needs others to serve as their mirror.
1. Uncomfortable when not the center of attention
A person who suffers from HPD needs to be the center of attention at all times. It is as if they only feel alive when others are watching them. They appear to lack a sense of self and substitute self-love with attention. Within a group, if someone else is speaking, an HPD will do anything to get the attention back on them. They may resort to crying, throwing a tantrum, yelling or any other manipulative tactic. A person with HPD may go as far as threaten to harm themselves or attempt suicide just to get attention. They cannot stand not being the focal point.
2. Interaction with others is often seductive, provocative or sexual
A person with HPD will often dress and behave in an inappropriately sexual or provocative manner to get attention. They can be extremely flirtatious and sexually suggestive. This person may flirt with your partner right in front of you and think nothing of it. They might dress in a highly seductive manner for a family function just to be noticed and to be the focal point of the gathering.
3. Shallow and rapidly shifting emotions
A person with HPD will often display a rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions. They are not attuned to their true feeling and will act out to evoke reactions from others. They can be completely unpredictable when it comes to emotional states. An HPD might cry one minute and then laugh hysterically the next without any awareness. The emotional system of an HPD is based on the reactions and attention of others.
4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention
A person with HPD may come across as extremely self-centered or overly concerned about their appearance. They might constantly take selfies in order to feel seen or validated. A person with HPD might show up to a funeral in bold colors or wear white to a wedding. They might say, “I am so fat” or “I am not pretty” to elicit the approval or confirmation of others.
A person with this disorder might appear to be always acting. They might talk in a loud and theatrical manner to get noticed. A person with HPD might display exaggerated and insincere emotions or expressions as though they are performing for an audience. They are often highly dramatic in speech. They might proclaim loudly at a party, “Darling! It is absolutely a delight to see you!” and flower the person with air kisses but hardly know them.
6. Suggestible and easily influenced by others
A person with HPD can be extremely gullible and easily influenced by others or circumstances. They are seen as followers and are desperate to be liked. If someone they admire tells them to buy the latest gadget, they will immediately do so without thinking twice.
7. Difficulty with relationships
People with HPD are often seen as fake or shallow. They tend to have difficulty maintaining relationships. It is common for them to be unable to gauge how others see them and often consider relationships much more intimate than they actually are. A person with HPD might convince themselves that they are everyone’s best friend or that someone is in love with them. It is also not uncommon for people with HPD to create chaos in interpersonal relationships and be remorseless. Lastly, they tend to be unaware of social rules and cues.
This article is not meant to diagnose or to be a guide for self-diagnoses. The sole purpose of this article is strictly for educational purposes. If this sounds like you or someone you know please seek the help of a mental health professional.
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