Recognising and Coping with Histrionic Personality Disorder

Our previous article on Histrionic Personality Disorder explained what is and how you can recognise and support a loved one with this disorder. In this article, we will talk about Recognizing and Coping with this condition in yourself. Only by examining the roots of our disordered responses to life can we begin to recognise the patterns and begin to change our thinking. And if we can change our thinking and believing, we can change our lives.
If you suspect that you or someone your love may have Histrionic Personality Disorder, then please do contact a professional who can help you navigate this.

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Histrionic Personality is one of four “Cluster B” personality disorders currently recognized by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). It is a relatively uncommon diagnosis, with approximately 1.8 percent of the population being affected.

Often, those who deal with this disorder are known for having extreme emotional responses that can quickly change.

People who manage this disorder feel anxious if they are not receiving attention. There is also a desire to be the centre of attention in group settings, and if needed, someone with Histrionic Personality will engage in dramatized or provocative behaviours to get the attention they crave.

Sometimes this behaviour manifests as sexually seductive or theatrical.

Relationships can be challenging for people struggling with Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Others may perceive the person as “fake” or overly “dramatic.” A person who deals with this disorder may also feel as if they have a closer connection to others than they actually do, which can result in feelings of rejection and loss.

These feelings feed back into the sadness that perpetuates this diagnosis, resulting in exaggerated responses and reinforcing the cycle of disconnection from others.

A person who manages Histrionic Personality Disorder may also struggle with meaningful self-expression.

Part of the struggle for someone with this disorder is the ability to use in-depth language. Often there is a reliance on vague terms that may seem shallow, instead of more descriptive ones. This style of communication may come off as disingenuous.

When this is combined with an excessive need for attention and compliment-seeking behaviours, it can indicate self-absorption, which can also make interpersonal relationships difficult.

For those managing Histrionic Personality Disorder, there is often an over-reliance on physical appearance to gain attention.
Often, appearance is a very sensitive topic for someone who struggles with this disorder. The slightest criticism or lack of needed compliments from others can be interpreted with great shame and despondency.

Coping Strategies for Managing HPD

It is important to become grounded within as one manages Histrionic Personality Disorder. With the excessive reliance on external validation, it is crucial to observe this tendency and begin to work on shifting that validation over to oneself.

Start making a list:
Part of the growth that needs to take place is a solid sense of self. When we are grounded within our sense of self, we don’t rely on external validation as much. Every day write down an inner quality you observed within yourself. This quality needs to be something that no one else could see and that only you were able to observe as part of your inner world. As you build on your list, observe your view of self and notice if you are becoming less reliant on others’ praise to feel worthy.

Challenge your assumptions:
Sometimes one of the best things we can do is prove ourselves wrong. Challenge your idea that you need to be the centre of attention to avoid feeling anxious. At your next social gathering, make a decision to change one thing about the way you engage with others.

Maybe you could choose not to get dressed up as much, wear less makeup (if that is something you would normally do) or talk to only a few people individually rather than playing to the group. Observe how that feels, what your thoughts are and how others respond to you.

Practice genuineness:
As you begin to settle into your sense of self, reducing your need to be the centre of attention and relying less on external appearances for validation, it then comes time to practice being more “real” with people. Starting with someone you trust, let your guard down.

Talk about feelings and inner challenges. Being real with someone may feel risky but it is worth the risk when you are able to establish a deep, caring relationship that is reciprocated.

[This blog post originally appeared on Teyhou’s website ~ some content may have been modified for the UK & Irish context.]

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