7 Signs of Histrionic Personality Disorder

Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay

“The world cannot be the mirror to your soul.” ~Dr. Perry

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 with 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 threatening 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.

5. Theatrical 
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-diagnosis. The sole purpose of this article is strictly for educational purposes.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a professional relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a medical professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Dr. Perry

Copy of Dr. Eric Perry

“I help ambitious and high achieving individuals manifest a life of success and fulfillment in order to achieve the life they truly desire.”

Dr. Eric Perry | drericperry.com

The materials and content contained in this website are for general information only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users of this website should not rely on the information provided for their own health needs. All specific questions should be presented to your own health care provider.

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If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


57 responses to 7 Signs of Histrionic Personality Disorder

  1. Nicolle says:

    I’ve read a lot of personality and personality disorder articles, but this is the first time I’ve heard of Histrionic Personality Disorder (probably because my search keywords are more towards introvert personalities), so thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 6 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I am delighted to hear you are finding these posts informative. Thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. LucciaGray says:

    Thanks for explaining and sharing. That’s really helpful. I’d never thought they behaved like that because they have no sense of self. I suppose that means they need to work on self esteem?

    Liked by 4 people

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I won’t disagree that working on self-esteem could help. However, I think the work really begins with awareness of self and behaviors. That is generally the most difficult part.

      Liked by 3 people

      • LucciaGray says:

        Thanks for your clarification. Do you think it could this be a childish or immature phase that will pass, or improve later on in life or would professional help be needed to build this awareness?

        Liked by 2 people

        • MakeItUltra™ says:

          It depends on the age of the person. If the symptoms are severe I would definitely recommend seeking professional guidance.

          Liked by 3 people

  3. Olivia Taylor says:

    Thank you! Never heard of this specific disorder before. It is important to spread awareness for the less well-known mental disorders to combat the stigmas that are sometimes meant. Again, Thank you very much! Continue with your work- High praise 👏🏼

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Mr. Mel says:

    This was new to me, I had no idea there was such a disorder. It does explain the behavior of the “drama kings and queens. Great piece, thank for posting it.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Diana says:

    Had….have a life long friend who fits this profile. Diagnosed her many years ago. Should have walked away then, would have saved me a lot of grief.
    But my baggage and my history fit perfectly with her Histronic personality. A catastrophic combination. Who by the way, is also a Narcissist.
    Not so much a close friend anymore, very distant friend today. But still have years of history between us, and what I imagined for way to long, to be a true close friend. Not so true, that painfully took me many years to discover.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Define crazy? says:

    *apologize for the long comment in advance*

    Was “softly”diagnosed hpd in december of 2015 (my current pdoc begs to differ, maybe bc I am more self conscious of it now) but it took me over a year to come to terms with my personality being labeled as flawed. I blogged about denial vs self awareness if you like to check out how this diagnosis/disorder affected me personally.

    When it comes to dealing with cluster b’s the main issue imo is being unable to recognize that there is anything wrong with oneself. I honestly didn’t know my personality had a “label” to it. I just thought that I was normal.

    IMO the self awareness trait can be damaged or burried so deep under childhood trauma, being raised in a dysfunctional family, etc.

    Would love for you to one day maybe write about your opinion on the way a dysfunctional upbringing cripples the self awareness trait therefore possibly causing PDs.

    On another note, do you believe that those who were raised in an healthy environment without trauma or dysfunction can also lack self awareness?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Linda says:

    This sounds like someone in my family. I didn’t know there was a term for it. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I recently had a brief and very troubling connection with just such a person. She cut off and resumed contact a few times, until getting what she thought she wanted. I ended the connection permanently, without any damage to my own self-concept or reputation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      You are fortunate that you suffered no personal damage. Chaos is often used to control a person. It is important to establish strong boundaries as you have done. Thank you for your comment✨

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Brilliant brilliant post. I love reading your posts as they are super informative. But if I may ask a sky -width question? How, if at all, do you deal with a person with HPO??? Give into their tactics? Or stand your ground?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Thank you. The main approach is to be firm in your boundaries and be willing to absorb the discomfort in doing so✨

      Liked by 4 people

      • Dr. Perry thank you so much for replying. I have a family member who displays these traits most severely. At times it makes living unbearable. Your advise is invaluable as always. Thank you again.

        Liked by 1 person

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