Histrionic Personality Disorder

Full description of Histrionic Personality Disorder. Definition, signs, symptoms, causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Full description of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). Definition, signs, symptoms, and causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Description of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

Histrionic Personality Disorder is a condition in which a person acts very emotional and overly dramatic in order to call attention to themselves. People with this disorder are also intensely expressive, egocentric, highly reactive, and excitable. Other features of Histrionic Personality Disorder may include emotional and interpersonal superficiality as well as socially inappropriate interpersonal behavior.

People with a histrionic personality are prone to sexually provocative behavior or to sexualizing nonsexual relationships. However, they may not really want a sexual relationship; rather, their seductive behavior often masks their wish to be dependent and protected. Some people with a histrionic personality also are hypochondriacal and exaggerate their physical problems to get the attention they need.

Diagnostic Criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • 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
  • displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
  • consistently uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
  • has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  • shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
  • is suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others or circumstances
  • considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are

Causes of Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)

There is very little research into the cause of Histrionic Personality Disorder. Like many personality disorders, experts theorize there's a genetic, biological and environmental component to HPD. Psychoanalysts suggest that a traumatic childhood contributes to the development of HPD.

For comprehensive information on histrionic and other personality disorders, visit the Personality Disorders Community.

Sources: 1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 2. Merck Manual, Home Edition for Patients and Caregivers, last revised 2006.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 2). Histrionic Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 21 from

Last Updated: July 5, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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