Mental disorders attention seeking

Histrionic Personality Disorder | Sheppard Pratt

Histrionic personality disorder is a type of personality disorder that is characterized by attention-seeking behavior. If you have histrionic personality disorder, you may be very suggestible and act in a very dramatic or attention seeking way. Your self-esteem may depend on the approval and attention that you get from others. This disorder is more prevalent in women than in men. 

Histrionic personality disorder can have a serious impact on your relationships and can interfere with your performance at work or in school. This disorder is usually first noticed in your teens or early adulthood. You may be obsessive about your appearance, and use your appearance to seek attention in inappropriate or sexual ways. Less than 2% of the U.S. population has this disorder. 


Histrionic personality disorder often exists alongside another type of mental disorder, like anxiety. People with this disorder can be very successful. But, left untreated, the disorder can have a negative impact on your life. See your doctor if you notice symptoms of histrionic personality disorder, including:


Histrionic personality disorder is not caused by one particular event or experience. A number of factors can increase your risk of developing this disorder, like:

  • Being rewarded for attention seeking behavior as a child
  • A family history of personality disorders, anxiety, or depression
  • Learning behaviors from a parent or caregiver with the disorder
  • A lack of criticism or punishment as a child
  • Unpredictable attention from your parents
  • Previously experiencing depression or anxiety
  • A genetic susceptibility to personality disorders

Histrionic personality disorder is treatable. It often becomes apparent alongside other disorders, like anxiety or depression. Your doctor can perform tests to determine if you have this disorder and what treatment plan is right for you.  

Medication: There is no medication to cure histrionic personality disorder. However, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and other medications can help treat your symptoms. Find a doctor to speak with about medication. 

Therapy: Therapy is very effective in treating this disorder. Psychodynamic therapy, talk therapy, behavioral therapy, and other types of therapy can help you learn how to control your disorder. See your options for therapy.

Education: Learning more about your disorder can help you understand your triggers and explain your condition to your family and friends. Learn more about mental health with our resources.

Support: Finding support to help you cope with histrionic personality disorder and other mental health conditions that you may be experiencing can help you feel better faster. Find a support group at Sheppard Pratt. 

Attention Seeking Behavior in Adults: Causes, Other Symptoms, More

For adults, attention-seeking behavior is a conscious or unconscious attempt to become the center of attention, sometimes to gain validation or admiration.

Attention-seeking behavior can include saying or doing something with the goal of getting the attention of a person or a group of people.

Examples of this behavior include:

  • fishing for compliments by pointing out achievements and seeking validation
  • being controversial to provoke a reaction
  • exaggerating and embellishing stories to gain praise or sympathy
  • pretending to be unable to do something so someone will teach, help, or watch the attempt to do it

Attention-seeking behavior may be driven by:

  • jealousy
  • low self-esteem
  • loneliness

Sometimes attention-seeking behavior is the result of cluster B personality disorders, such as:

  • histrionic personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • narcissistic personality disorder


Jealousy may come about when someone feels threatened by another person currently getting all the attention.

This, in turn, can lead to attention-seeking behavior to change the focus.


Self-esteem is a broad term covering a variety of complex mental states involving how you view yourself.

When some people believe that they’re being overlooked, bringing back the lost attention is may feel like the only way to restore their balance.

The attention that they get from this behavior may help provide them with the feeling of reassurance that they are worthy.


According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 1 in 5 Americans say they feel lonely or socially isolated.

Loneliness can result in an urge to seek attention, even in people who don’t normally exhibit attention-seeking behavior.

Histrionic personality disorder

According to the National Library of Medicine, histrionic personality disorder is characterized by feeling underappreciated when not the center of attention.

For someone to receive a diagnosis of histrionic personality disorder, they need to meet at least 5 of the following criteria:

  • uncomfortable when not the center of attention
  • provocative or seductive behavior
  • shallow and shifting emotions
  • using appearance to draw attention
  • vague or impressionistic speech
  • exaggerated or dramatic emotions
  • is suggestible
  • treating relationships as more intimate than they are

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder is a continuing pattern of instability in self-image, interpersonal relationships, emotion, and impulsivity.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, for someone to receive a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, they need to display at least 5 of the following criteria:

  • frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • a pattern of intense and unstable interpersonal relationships with extremes between devaluation and idealization
  • a decidedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • engaging in potentially self-damaging, impulsive behavior
  • recurring self-harm or suicidal behavior, including threats or gestures
  • emotionally instability in daily reactions, such as through irritability, anxiety, or intense sadness
  • chronic feelings of emptiness
  • inappropriately intense anger that’s often difficult to control
  • transient, stress-related paranoia or disassociation

Narcissistic personality disorder

Those with narcissistic personality disorder typically have a need for admiration with a lack of empathy.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, for someone to receive a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, they need to display at least 5 of the following criteria:

  • a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • a preoccupation with fantasies of power, unlimited success, brilliance, ideal love, beauty
  • a belief in their own uniqueness, especially that they should only associate with, and will only be understood by, high-status institutions and high-status people
  • demand for excessive admiration
  • a sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations
  • taking advantage of others to achieve their own ends
  • unwillingness to identify with or recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • envy of others and belief that others are envious of them
  • haughty, arrogant attitudes or behaviors

If you notice this behavior is constantly recurring, it’s probably best for the person display the behavior to visit an experienced mental health professional.

If left unchecked, attention-seeking behavior can often become manipulative or otherwise harmful.

Attention-seeking behavior may stem from jealousy, low self-esteem, loneliness, or as a result of a personality disorder.

If you notice this behavior in you or someone else, a mental health professional can provide diagnosis and treatment options.

Hysterical personality disorder - treatment of hysteroid disorders in the Allianz Central Medical Health Center

Hysterical (hysterical) personality disorder is one of the variants of personality disorder (the obsolete name is “psychopathy”), characterized, along with the common features for this group, by the following distinctive features:

  • strong desire to be the center of attention. Situations where they are deprived of this attention cause severe discomfort, up to the appearance of various physical ailments;
  • theatricality of behavior: dramatization of events, pretentiousness of speech and gestures, hypertrophied manifestation of emotions;
  • increased suggestibility: easily influenced by other people or situations;
  • superficiality and lability of emotional experiences, frequent mood swings;
  • extreme preoccupation with their appearance. Physical attractiveness is another way for them to get attention;
  • inadequate assessment of the degree of closeness of relationships with other people (they consider relationships closer than they really are), as well as frequent provocative behavior aimed at seduction.


Extreme emotional variability and sensitivity, combined with an all-encompassing thirst for attention, form the core of this pathology.

People with hysterical personality disorder are very much like actors who live for praise and applause. Alternative names: theatrical, histrionic (from the Latin histrio - “actor”) disorder, reflect its essence. It was previously thought that women were more susceptible to this pathology, however, recent studies have shown that it occurs with the same frequency in men and women.

People with histrionic personality disorder often resort to various types of manipulative behavior to quench their thirst for attention. These can be both the aforementioned dramatic and theatrical speech and gestures, extravagant appearance and clothing, as well as more serious, even potentially dangerous options, such as demonstrative suicide attempts or simulation of somatic diseases.

Despite the brightness of the symptoms of hysteroid disorder, an important component of the differential diagnosis is the exclusion or detection of a real concomitant somatic or mental pathology.


To conduct a competent differential diagnosis, you need to contact a specialist, otherwise there is a high risk of missing a concomitant disease and undergoing unnecessary medical examinations and procedures.

Treatment and prognosis

The prognosis for hysterical personality disorder is usually favorable - it is possible to achieve stable and long-term compensation.

Correction is easier in individuals whose hysterical manifestations are concentrated mainly in the sphere of physical sensations and ailments (a hysterical lump in the throat, trembling in the whole body or in separate parts, numbness and other disturbances of sensitivity, etc. ). With adequate treatment, such people become well adapted socially and professionally by adulthood, although there are still noticeable elements of theatricality in their appearance, speech and gestures.

It must be emphasized that in this disorder, it is often not a true simulation of symptoms, in which the simulator lies about his malaise, but the result of the peculiarities of perception and thinking of a hysteroid personality. With this disorder, part of what is happening (external events or internal sensations) is perceived especially sharply, and part is only superficial or even escapes attention. In combination with the rich imagination inherent in people of this type, this leads to the fact that in places they blur the line between reality and fantasy. As a result, certain physical symptoms appear, which are not the fruit of true simulation, i.e. deliberate deception. A person really believes that the symptoms he produces are a manifestation of a real disease beyond his control.

The prognosis becomes less certain if the symptomatology is dominated by pathological fantasizing (pseudology), which manifests itself in telling a lot of invented facts about oneself, designed to impress listeners with the extraordinary significance and uniqueness of the narrator. Such people lie about themselves relentlessly and almost constantly, sometimes senselessly, even though it is obvious that they will be exposed. Often, pathological liars, possessing outstanding acting talent, resort to criminal activity - all kinds of fraud options.

Due to the peculiarities of the psyche, self-seeking for medical help is quite common for people with hysterical personality disorder. Treatment of this pathology, first of all, occurs by methods of psychotherapy. The most commonly used areas are: psychoanalysis, cognitive, psychodynamic and group psychotherapy. Drug treatment is used only in individual cases and is auxiliary.

The Alliance mental health center employs qualified psychotherapists who have effective methods for diagnosing and treating hysterical personality disorder. Our specialists have many years of successful experience in this field, individually and carefully approach the management of each case, which allows us to get a positive effect from the treatment in the shortest possible time and improve the patient's quality of life.

People with histrionic personality disorder are bright, emotionally charged and attention-hungry individuals. Resorting to various manipulations, they themselves are often used by others because of their suggestibility and desire to please. Tireless actors, they often lose the line between reality and fantasy. In a state of mental compensation, they manage to achieve a high level of social and professional adaptation and lead an active lifestyle.

Somatic disorders causes, detection and treatment of somatic disorders

Somatic disorders can have various forms, the most common being anorexia, depressive, conversion, sexual disorder, asthenic syndrome. Patients complain of chest pain, nausea, aversion to food, numbness of the extremities. The causes of somatic disorders are mental disorders. Treatment depends on the type of disorder, its form and severity.

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Very often, mental disorders become the cause of somatic disorders. They can manifest themselves in different ways - this is an appetite disorder, tachycardia, impotence, increased sweating, dyspepsia, general physical malaise. The most striking example of how a mental disorder affects the body is a panic attack, during which the heart rate rises sharply and other physical symptoms appear.

Etiology of somatic disorders

Mental disorders are the causes of somatic disorders. In some cases, somatic disorders can be so severe that they require not only diagnosis, but also the appointment of drug treatment. The most common somatic disorders are:

  • Appetite and digestive disorders. These include bulimia and anorexia. Such diseases usually manifest themselves in girls who are trying by any means to lose weight or achieve an ideal figure in their understanding. If with anorexia the patients practically do not eat, then with bulimia they absorb a huge amount of food, after which they take laxatives and other drugs, or cause vomiting to empty the stomach;
  • asthenic syndrome. It is characterized by increased fatigue, instability of the psycho-emotional state. Patients may suddenly break into a scream, cry, become hysterical, or perform other illogical actions. The syndrome is often accompanied by headaches, nausea and dizziness, sometimes there are complaints of pain in the abdomen and in the region of the heart;
  • conversion disorders. They are characterized by frequent tantrums and various health complaints, which are aimed at attracting increased attention. Patients may complain of headaches, heart, weakness in the limbs, chills, suffocation, goosebumps. Despite the fact that the symptoms are far-fetched, patients actually feel them;
  • depressive disorder. Patients typically experience fluctuations in blood pressure, insomnia, constipation, chest tightness, and headaches. Usually such depressions are accompanied by a dreary state;
  • hypochondriacal disorders. Manifested in the firm confidence of the patient that he is sick. Usually such people often visit various doctors, undergo many diagnostic examinations, make their own treatment regimens for imaginary diseases and, despite their health, are firmly convinced that they are terminally ill with something;
  • Sexual disorders. They differ in that patients may have problems of a sexual nature, which is accompanied by a sense of their own guilt. Sometimes a depressed state occurs during a completely normal sexual life.