What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

April 29, 2022 – Amid all the attention this month for actor Johnny Depp’s $50 million lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a psychological term has entered the public’s lexicon: histrionic personality disorder.

Depp says an opinion piece Heard wrote in 2018 hurt his career, and he is suing for defamation.

The term was used in court during the testimony of Shannon Curry, PsyD, a clinical and forensic psychologist in California and Hawaii who conducted a psychological evaluation of Heard and said she had met Heard for 12 hours.

Curry testified that Heard has both Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder. Heard has said she has post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because of her condition, Heard is very concerned about image, prone to cruelty and blaming others, and can’t admit she’s done anything wrong, Curry testified, as reported in Newsweek.

So what exactly is a histrionic personality disorder, and how does it differ from the other better-known personality disorders, such as paranoid, narcissistic, or obsessive-compulsive?

Histrionic personality disorder — theatrical meaning overly theatrical or melodramatic — is more common in women, can be learned or inherited, and is associated with “intense, unstable emotions and distorted self-images,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

And those with the disorder tend to behave dramatically, rely on other people’s approval to boost their self-esteem, and have an “overwhelming desire to be noticed.”

Histrionic personality disorder is much less commonly diagnosed than narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, says Jessica January Behr, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in New York City.

“The criteria for the condition are probably seen much more often than diagnosed,” she says. “To diagnose someone with histrionic personality disorder, a person must meet five of nine very specific criteria.”

These nine criteria include being awkward unless you’re the center of attention, your emotions shifting quickly, acting very dramatically – as if you were performing in front of an audience – with exaggerated emotions and expressions that seem genuinely lacking, and constantly looking for reassurance or approval, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Ultimately, this condition is a serious one, and the label should not be used unless confirmed by a mental health professional who has evaluated you and performed certain diagnostic tests.

Before treatment, people with the disorder will generally seek counseling to discover the motivations and fears associated with their thoughts and behavior, and the counselor will help the person relate to others in a more positive way.

A health care professional may also prescribe medications to treat the depression and anxiety often associated with this condition, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“It’s good for people to learn about this psychological term, but it’s important to avoid getting an armchair diagnosis,” Behr says. “We also have to be careful not to confuse ‘dramatic’ and ‘histrionic’. In order to have histrionic personality disorder, certain criteria must be met, and this is not a term to be used lightly.

This post What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

was original published at “https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20220429/amber-heard-diagnosis-what-is-histrionic-personality-disorder?src=RSS_PUBLIC”