Histrionic personality disorder is a Cluster B personality disorder characterized by excessive attention-seeking, emotionality, inappropriate seductiveness and an obsession with one’s appearance.
Have you ever met someone who seemed to be highly emotional, theatrical, dramatic, obsessed with their appearance and overly seductive in their interactions with others? Someone who couldn’t stand not being the center of attention? Someone who would consistently go to extreme lengths just to draw attention back to themselves whenever anyone threatened to take the spotlight from them? You may have come across someone with the traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder.
The Traits of Histrionic Personality Disorder
According to the DSM, people with Histrionic Personality Disorder are incredibly self-centered, are constantly seeking reassurance and approval and engage in inappropriate seductive behavior across a wide variety of contexts (including social, academic, occupational and professional). More women than men are usually diagnosed with this disorder. Whether this is because more women than men actually do meet the criteria for the disorder or because female sexual displays tend to be more stigmatized remains up for debate.
Histrionic individuals engage in very dramatic behavior with exaggerated displays of emotion and an impressionistic style of speaking that come off as disingenuous to discerning onlookers. Their emotions are so rapidly shifting and shallow that it can be difficult to determine exactly how authentic their emotions are or to what extent they are using their emotions to manipulate others. Interpersonally, they tend to be highly suggestible people whose opinions can change on a whim. They tend to perceive relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.
Histrionic Personality Disorder is also one of the few disorders which is directly tied to a person’s appearance. A person with histrionic traits will dress provocatively and demonstrate a hyperfocus on how they look. This can range from spending hours on their makeup to spending excessive amounts of time on sculpting the “perfect” body.