On an average, 4 out of 5 of us have always come across individuals who can go to any extent to get someone’s attention in particular, may it be yours or of someone you know. Many times you know that the person is lying, manipulating, and exaggerating (situation or conversation) through irrational tantrums and many similar practices.

As infuriating as it can get, one should take the high road and understand that this behavior is actually a disorder and not a personality type.

Histrionic personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of attention seeking behavior and extreme emotionality. Someone with histrionic personality disorder wants to be the center of attention in any group of people, and feel uncomfortable when they are not. While often lively, interesting and sometimes dramatic, they have difficulty when people aren’t focused exclusively on them. People with this disorder may be perceived as being shallow and may engage in sexually seductive or provocative behavior to draw attention to themselves.

These individuals may also alienate friends with demands for constant attention. They often become depressed and upset when they are not the center of attention.

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 them.
  • Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail.
  • Shows self-dramatization, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion.
  • Is highly suggestible, i.e., easily influenced by others or circumstances.
  • Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are.

Histrionic personality disorder is more prevalent in females than males.

So the next time you come across such an individual, take a deep breath, stay calm, be patient and play along (difficult? I feel you).

Steve Bressert, Ph.D.

Riya Jadhav



IRIANS – The Neuroscience Institute 


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