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About Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionic Personality Disorder (formerly known as Hysteric Personality Disorder) is an emotional disorder that displays excessive attention seeking and need for approval.  It can often produce inappropriate and risky behavior, including overly sexualized activity.  Symptoms of Histrionic Personalty Disorder may include exhibitionism, constantly seeking reassurance, overly dramatic behavior and displays of emotion, heightened sensitivity to criticism or correction, the need to be the center of attention, inability to delay gratification, being easily frustrated, rapidly shifting emotional states, and the inability to evaluate true depth of relationships.  There is no specific test for diagnosing histrionics; rather the symptoms of behavior are weighed and form the basis of evaluation.  There is no specifically identified cause, though the disorder may be linked to childhood trauma or stress.

Psychotherapy, and specifically cognitive behavior therapy, is the most commonly used treatment for Histrionic Personality Disorder.  The therapy generally focuses on development of appropriate inhibitions and boundaries, and self development to counter the other-focused behaviors that often result in damaging or risky conduct.  Though group therapy is sometimes used, it presents the danger of providing an audience and a stage on which the histrionic can seek attention and affirmation for their patterns of behavior.  In addition, family therapy may be useful for equipped the entire family to respond properly to histrionic behaviors and symptoms so as to not encourage further bad conduct.

Parents of teens with Histrionic Personality Disorder, more common in girls than in boys, may find their child manipulative and taking steps to remain the center of attention within the family.  They may find school boring and have trouble focusing on completing assignments and projects.  In addition, romantic relationships may be quickly started and then abandoned.  They are also at greater risk of depression and co-morbid disorders.

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