Where Drama Meets Disorder

Where Drama Meets Disorder

When we think of someone having a mental disorder, we often think of someone staying in bed for days, experiencing crippling anxiety or abandoning their responsibilities. We don’t often think of a mental disorder having to do with overdramatic, overly sexual, or theatrical behaviors. You may have that one person in your life that may be self-centered, shallow, constantly looking to be reassured, inappropriate in their language or behavior, or over-dramatizes the littlest of things. Did you know that when these aspects of a person get in the way of their functioning or become severe, that it could be considered a disorder?

According to an article written by Suzanne Degges-White, about 10% of the entire population suffers from a personality disorder, with about 1.8% of that population being affected by Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). HPD is identified as a Cluster B disorder in the DSM-5. This cluster has disorders that are mainly characterized by traits such as dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking of behavior. Other disorders in this cluster include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Someone suffering from HPD specifically has these major symptoms such as craving attention, exaggerated outbursts (sometimes in hope for more attention), and emotional instability.

HPD is often found in adolescence and early adulthood, but the actual cause of the disorder is unknown. It is believed that social (such as childhood events) and biological (such as genetics) factors play a large part in the acquiring of HPD in sufferers. According to Psychology Today, the prevalence and difference between genders are unknown because “it occurs more frequently in women than in men, although some feel it is simply more often diagnosed in women because attention-seeking and sexual forwardness are less socially acceptable for women than men.”

As with every personality disorder, diagnosing Histrionic Personality Disorder can be challenging due to similarities between disorders (especially when in the same cluster) and because the severity of disorder that the illness brings to the sufferer must be included, and we don’t always know the degree of severity or impairment. Sufferers of HPD may find themselves in risky situations due to their overly sexual behaviors. Furthermore, underlying mental illnesses like depression or anxiety are often found when relationships end more so than in someone that doesn’t suffer from HPD because they may not over-dramatize a breakup in the same way. Lastly, sufferers struggle with accepting responsibility for negative aspects of their life and may feel blame should be placed on others when it comes to situations such as failure on a work assignment or failure of a relationship. Despite these effects, those suffering from HPD are typically able to live comfortably and confidently with treatment. They are also able to function in social environments and environments requiring work to be done like in a school, or career setting.

The biggest mistake that we, as a whole, are making when it comes to Histrionic Personality Disorder is not acknowledging it or understanding it. We can’t change the fact that it has a low prevalence but maybe if we put time and dedication into researching it and educating ourselves about it, we can realize that HPD is a real disorder and doesn’t just explain that typical “drama queen” or “attention seeker” we have in our lives. Professionals need to take a step into finding out more about this disorder such as the causes, and true prevalence between genders. We, as a population, need to take a step to educate ourselves on this disorder to encourage people that it is okay to suffer from HPD, help is possible for those suffering and that they will not be judged for owning their disorder.


Vozenilek, N. (2017, April 18). Breaking Down Personality. The Humanology Project. Retrieved from http://ethosnews.com/2017/04/18/breaking-down-personality/

Aleksey, A. S. (2012, December 30). Praise Me, Sanduskey: Insight on the Histrionic Personality Disorder. Atoms & Empty Space: Your ‘Shatter the Stigma’ Database. Retrieved from https://aa400415.wordpress.com/tag/hpd/

Kandola, A. (2017, December 31). Everything you Need to Know About Histrionic Personality Disorder. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320485.php

Psychology Today. (n.d.) Histrionic Personality Disorder. PsychologyToday.com. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/histrionic-personality-disorder

Degges-White, S. (2017, December 15). The Top 10 Personality Disorders: Symptoms and Signs. PsychologyToday.com. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/201712/the-top-10-personality-disorders-symptoms-and-signs

Katelyn Gemelli

My high school psychology teacher and a course in abnormal psychology has helped me to discover a love for psychology and has made me strive to try to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by mental health. Furthermore, from volunteering as a Crisis Counselor for a crisis text-line, I have seen firsthand how challenging mental illnesses can be to live. My aim is that, over time and with the aid of The Humanology Project, people can get the help they need for their mental health/illnesses without fear or concern of judgement. A little about me includes my favorite place in the world being the Poconos Mountains, and that I have an unhealthy obsession with reading books, and Game of Thrones.

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