Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions, usually beginning in early adulthood, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval. Histrionic people are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious. HPD is diagnosed four times as frequently in women as men. It affects 2–3% of the general population and 10–15% in inpatient and outpatient mental health institutions.
HPD lies in the dramatic cluster of personality disorders. People with HPD have a high need for attention, make loud and inappropriate appearances, exaggerate their behaviors and emotions, and crave stimulation. They may exhibit sexually provocative behavior, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and can be easily influenced by others. Associated features include egocentrism, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, and persistent manipulative behavior to achieve their own needs.
Additional characteristics may include:
- Exhibitionist behavior
- Constant seeking of reassurance or approval
- Excessive sensitivity to criticism or disapproval
- Pride of own personality and unwillingness to change, viewing any change as a threat
- Inappropriately seductive appearance or behavior of a sexual nature
- Using somatic symptoms (of physical illness) to garner attention
- A need to be the center of attention
- Low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification
- Rapidly shifting emotional states that may appear superficial or exaggerated to others
- Tendency to believe that relationships are more intimate than they actually are
- Making rash decisions
- Blaming personal failures or disappointments on others
- Being easily influenced by others, especially those who treat them approvingly
- Being overly dramatic and emotional
- Influenced by the suggestions of others
Some people with histrionic traits or personality disorder change their seduction technique into a more maternal or paternal style as they age.