Have you noticed how some people always want to be the center of attention? Whether at work or play, they behave in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd.
You meet these people regularly. “Mr. Outrageous” dresses and acts in such an eccentric way that heads turn when he walks down the street. “Ms. Flirty” oozes appeal that men can’t resist. Even women take notice of the way she moves and her sultry voice. But wait. Are these normal levels of attention seeking or something more?
Attention seeking individuals may be suffering from “Histrionic Personality Disorder.”
Even though you’re sure to be familiar with people who crave attention, you may not be aware that they could be suffering from a mental illness known as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD).1 The American Psychiatric Association defines HPD as a personality disorder characterized by excessive attention-seeking behaviors and emotions.2
If the word “histrionic” is new to you, here’s how Merriam-Webster3defines it: Deliberately affected, overly dramatic or emotional, theatrical.
Think of reality TV participants. Frequently they display the traits listed above. In most cases it’s obvious that the participants are huge attention seekers.
How to Identify People with Histrionic Personality Disorder
Let’s now look at how to quickly spot people with HPD. They’re likely to display some or all of the symptoms below:
- Intense, unstable emotions
- Inappropriately flirtatious or seductive behavior
- Constant need for reassurance and approval
- Easily bored by routine
- Overly concerned with physical appearance
- Problems maintaining relationships
- Uncomfortable in situations where they fail to be the center of attention
It’s important to be clear that we can all suffer from the above symptoms from time to time. However, individuals suffering from HPD are prone to exhibiting the symptoms incessantly.
The Cause of Histrionic Personality Disorder
Mental health studies have revealed some of the likely causes of HPD:
- Brain wiring response to early developmental trauma caused by neglect
- Genetical inheritance
- Environmental factors such as lack of criticism while growing up
Why Recognizing Histrionic Personality Disorder Is Important
Whether they are colleagues, friends, or loved ones, it’s critical that you recognize someone suffering from HPD. In doing so you’ll be able to help your relationship with them – making both your lives happier.
As an example, let’s imagine that your boss suffers from HPD. He or she has terrible mood swings and the annoying trait of making small errors on your part seem like major disasters. They also lack the ability to focus on their daily duties, so often hand over their work for you to handle. If you didn’t know that he or she suffered from HPD you’d likely be driven crazy by your boss! However, once you become aware of a personality disorder you can learn how to adjust and cope with the strange behaviors.
Top Five Ways to Deal with Histrionic Personality Disorder Sufferers
You’ve now learned what HPD is and how to recognize it. Let’s conclude this article by looking at the five best ways of coping with people suffering from HPD:
- Stay calm when interacting with them. HPD sufferers can easily become agitated. By being calm around them you’ll help to de-escalate any over-the-top behaviors or emotions.
- Keep your distance. Whether sitting or standing it’s important to keep a reasonable distance (e.g., 3 or 4 feet) from HPD sufferers. This is because HPD sufferers typically have a hard time understanding boundaries. If you get too close they may act inappropriately towards you.
- Question their behavior. For this method to be successful, you must only question their behaviors in a gentle, friendly manner. For instance, if you feel their outlandish clothes are unsuitable for a serious event such as a funeral, this is a good time to ask them questions. You could word it this way: “Your clothes are amazing, but don’t you think something a little plainer would be more suitable for the funeral?”
- Recommend they take up meditation or yoga. Meditation and yoga are known for relieving stress and inducing calmness. These are positive traits that can be especially beneficial to a HPD sufferer. If you already practice meditation or yoga, then why not ask the HPD sufferer to come along to a class?
- Suggest they seek treatment from a mental health therapist.4 If interacting with a HPD sufferer is proving too much for you, then you should definitely suggest to them that they seek professional counseling. A qualified mental health therapist will be able to help the HPD sufferer to manage the symptoms. Excessive attention seeking can be a warning sign that someone is suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder. By learning the symptoms associated with Histrionic Personality Disorder, you can quickly identify affected individuals. Once you become aware of someone suffering from this disorder you can take the recommended steps above to help both them and yourself.