Personality Disorder Support Community

Personality Disorder Support Community

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic personality disorder is a personality disorder which usually appears in early adulthood, and is found equally in women and men. It belongs to a group of conditions labeled “dramatic, emotional or erratic personality disorders”.

People with histrionic personality disorder tend to have rapidly shifting and often shallow emotions, crave and seek attention and excitement, and appear to dress or act provocatively.

To be diagnosed with histrionic personality disorder, a person must fulfill certain criteria laid out by the ICD-10 or DSM-IV.

The DSM-IV defines histrionic personality disorder as the following:

A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention.

  2. Interaction with others is often characterised by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour.

  3. Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions.

  4. Consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self.

  5. Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail.

  6. Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion.

  7. Is suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others or circumstances.

  8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

The ICD-10 defines it as:

Personality disorder characterized by at least 3 of the following:

  1. Self-dramatization, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotions.

  2. Suggestibility, easily influenced by others or by circumstances.

  3. Shallow and labile affectivity.

  4. Continual seeking for excitement, appreciation by others, and activities in which the patient is the center of attention.

  5. Inappropriate seductiveness in appearance or behaviour.

  6. Over-concern with physical attractiveness.

Cause of HPD

So far, there is no known cause of HPD, although this may be a result of not enough research.
However, some studies show that people who have experienced childhood trauma are at greater risk of developing HPD.

Diagnosing HPD

HPD is usually diagnosed by a mental health professional. It is not always easy to diagnose, so it may take at least several sessions before a diagnosis is confirmed.

If you suspect you may have HPD, you will need to see your GP and ask for a referral to a mental health professional.


There is no medication used to treat HPD, although it may be prescribed to relieve associated symptoms such as depression.

Therapy is believed to be the best treatment for HPD. Short term therapy usually involves cognitive behavioural therapy, which aims to teach the person with HPD to challenge dysfunctional thoughts. Longer term therapy usually involves looking at underlying causes for the disorder and attempting to decrease emotional reactivity.

Millon’s Subtypes

Appeasing - This involves dependent features. Those who fall under this subtype attempt to please people by giving in or compromising when there is disagreement.

Vivacious - This involves narcissistic features. Those who fall under this subtype tend to be very charming and energetic.

Tempestuous - This involves negativistic features. Those who fall under this subtype tend to be impulsive and have very changeable emotions.

Disingenuous - This involves antisocial features. Those who fall under this subtype come across as manipulative, deceitful and insincere.

Theatrical - This is often called a variant of “pure” histrionic. Those who fall under this subtype, as the name suggests, are very theatrical or dramatic.

Infantile - This involves borderline features. Those who fall under this subtype tend to be overly attached, have changeable emotions, and often appear childlike.

Author: Flowingtears

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Histrionic Personality Disorder - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) American Psychiatric Association (2000)

Histrionic Personality Disorder - International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10)

Millon, Theodore (2006). "Personality Subtypes Summary”. The Official Website for Theodore Millon, Ph.D., D.Sc.. DICANDRIEN, Inc.