Like other personality disorders, histrionic personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms. There is a lack of research on the causes of the HPD and thus they are not definitively known. It is suggested however that biological, developmental, cognitive and social factors play a crucial role. This disorder (Cluster B) is characterised by constant attention seeking and discomfort from not being the centre of attention. Histrionics tend to interrupt others to dominate the conversation and are sometimes referred to as drama queens with their theatrical performances and gestures. Those with the disorder may dress provocatively to gain the attention they crave, and be sexually seductive in inappropriate situations. However, there is a difference between being dramatic and being histrionic. Many people exhibit HP characteristics but would not be classified as having the disorder. The following symptoms of HPD may characterize someone who is described as 'dramatic', however, only in those diagnosed with the HPD the symptoms will be exhibited to a pathological degree.
- Acting or looking overly seductive
- Being easily influenced by other people
- Being overly concerned with their looks
- Being overly dramatic and emotional
- Being overly sensitive to criticism or disapproval
- Believing that relationships are more intimate than they actually are
- Blaming failure or disappointment on others
- Constantly seeking reassurance or approval
- Having a low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification
- Needing to be the center of attention (self-centeredness)
- Quickly changing emotions, which may seem shallow to others
Treatment for HPD is difficult for a number of reasons. Often, sufferers do not believe that they have a personality disorder and do not believe they’re in need of therapy. Those who do seek treatment often do so for depression or anxiety – conditions that are frequently associated with HPD. The treatment usually involves psychotherapy and/or medication.
Many people with this disorder are able to function well socially and at work. Those with severe cases, however, might experience significant problems in their daily lives.