Histrionic Personality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria

Individuals with Histrionic Personality Disorder exhibit an overly-dramatic behavioral pattern and almost seem to be acting to a full house on opening night. Everything is over-exaggerated, hence they may hug a person enthusiastically within moments of greeting them, or cry uncontrollably while describing an incident in a movie, or use sexually seductive behavior to draw attention to themselves.

There is a pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior beginning in early adulthood. Five or more of the following eight criteria must be met for a clinical diagnosis:

  • The person is uncomfortable in situations in which he or she is not the center of attention.
  • Interaction with others is often characterized by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behavior.
  • The person displays rapidly shifting and shallow expressions of emotion.
  • The person consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to themselves.
  • Has a style of speech that is excessively emotional and lacking in real detail.
  • Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion.
  • The person is suggestible, that is, they are easily influenced by others or circumstances.
  • Considers relationships to be more intimate than they really are.

In addition, individuals with HPD tend to be impulsive and find it difficult to delay gratification. In short, they have poor impulse control. Although males do exhibit histrionic personality disorder, this condition is also found more commonly in females.

However, recent research suggests that this phenomenon may be due to social training. In fact, one hypothesis suggests that the typical characteristics of this disorder (overdramatic, vain, seductiveness) are more commonly attributed to females generally and hence there may be a tendency to over-diagnose women versus men with this disorder. Antisocial personality disorder, another of the personality disorders, is more commonly attributed to males and many researchers believe that the two disorders are linked, and are gender based in their expression.

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