For the third installment in the Personality Disorder Parade, we'll take a look at people colloquially described as divas, egotists, drama queens, spoiled brats, and prima donnas. Why? Because the biggest feature of this disorder is excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior.
When a person with Histrionic PD isn't the center of attention, they are uncomfortable and feel unappreciated. They can be initially charming and easily win people over, but these very qualities can wear thin because these individuals don't know when to back off. They may do something overly dramatic just to draw attention back to themselves, like make up a story or create a scene.
Individuals with this disorder often inappropriately dress and behave sexually provocative or seductive. Of course, they are this way with people they are romantically interested in, but they also act this way in a variety of social contexts--at work, church, the grocery store--you name it, it's fair game. They consistently use their physical appearance to draw attention to themselves. They'll spend tons of time getting ready for the day, tons of money on clothes and hair appointments and grooming. They'll fish for compliments and might be overly critical about a less-than-favorable comment of photograph.
Emotional expression may be shallow and rapidly shifting. These people don't exactly express themselves deeply. Rarely do they stick to one emotion, but bounce between several emotions; thus making the expression of the emotions limited (or shallow). What emotion they do express might be exaggerated or overly theatrical. They might effusively embrace a casual acquaintance, sob uncontrollably at something minor, or guffaw at something vaguely funny--and of course the intent is to draw attention to themselves while doing this. But since their emotions turn on and off so quickly, they give the impression to others of being insincere or fake.
People with Histrionic PD have a style of speech that is colorful, flowery and grand (clinical term: impressionistic), but they lack detail when pressed for particulars. They will express their opinion about someone being the world's worst/best doctor, but be unable to give any reasons to support their statement.
Opinions and feelings can easily be influenced by fads or other people because they have a high degree of suggestibility. They may be highly trusting, especially of strong authority top figures they see as magically solving their problems. This is not the type person you'd want to casually recommend something to, because depending on how they view you, they'd take the recommendation to heart. They play hunches and adopt convictions quickly, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Lastly, they often consider relationships more intimate than they are. Acquaintances are suddenly "best friends" and when talking about a doctor or politician they might have only met once or twice in professional contexts, they might call them by their first name. For you authors out there--flights into romantic fantasy are common.
These individuals in relationships are trouble. Emotional intimacy is often not achieved because they will act out a role (like "victim" or "princess") in their relationships to others. They can be emotionally manipulative with their seductiveness but show marked dependency on them on another level. Keeping same-sex friends is often difficult, as you might can imagine. Would you want a woman as described above making eyes at your spouse or partner? They are seen as a constant threat.
They don't do well with delayed gratification. They want what they want now. They are all about the excitement and novelty. Long-term relationships may be neglected because of this, as these individuals have a tendency to become bored with routine. Their demands for constant attention are tiresome to others, as is their response when not the center of attention.
It is thought that more females have this disorder than males, but males can definitely have it as well. Sex role stereotypes play a role in how this disorder would be manifested in a male. They may dress and behave in a macho manner and seek attention by bragging on athletic skills or professional prowess. A woman would (likely) choose skimpy, revealing feminine clothes and confidently state how much she impressed a guy at the mall.
Next up is Dependent Personality Disorder. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section!
Q4U: Known any histrionics from your present or past? Let's see who has the most interesting story to tell...no names, please!