Mental Health: Understanding Excessive Attention Seeking Behaviour as a Personality Disorder

Photo: Courtesy

Most people are most probably not aware that excessive attention seeking behaviour is a mental issue known as Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). This is part of a larger group of psychological disorders, called “Cluster B” personality disorders. Disorders in this category are generally categorised as being dramatic, emotional, or erratic.

People with this disorder are uncomfortable or feel unappreciated when they are not at the centre of attention. Typical behaviour may include the constant seeking of approval or attention , self-dramatisation and theatricality. They often base their self-esteem on the approval of others. This creates a need to be noticed.

Women are diagnosed with HPD more often than men. That may be because men report their symptoms less often than women.

The first step to knowing whether you engage in attention seeking behaviour is to know precisely what it means. Attention seeking behaviour is quite simply doing things that are likely to get others to notice you. Any number of behaviours could fall under this category.

Photo: Courtesy

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition), people with histrionic personality disorder have at least five (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Is uncomfortable in situations in which they are not the centre of attention
  • Has interactions with others characterised by inappropriate sexually seductive or provocative behaviour
  • Displays rapidly shifting and shallow expression of emotions
  • Consistently uses their physical attention to draw attention to self
  • Has a style of speech that is excessively impressionistic and lacking in detail
  • Shows self-dramatisation, theatricality, and exaggerated expression of emotion
  • Is suggestible (that is, they are easily influenced by others or circumstances)
  • Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are

Experiencing and creating drama can release hormones that make you feel good, and it can ,in fact damage your social life. Drama, however, can be addictive, especially if it gets you the attention you are craving.

The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown. Scientists believe it is an outcome of both environmental and genetic factors.

Some families have a history of HPD, which lends credit to the theory that the condition may be explained in part by genetics. On the other hand, children of parents with HPD may simply exhibit behavior they learned from their parents. It is also possible that a lack of discipline or positive reinforcement of dramatic behaviors in childhood can cause HPD. A child may learn HPD behaviors as a way to get attention from their parents.

No matter the cause, HPD usually presents itself by early adulthood.

If you crave attention and fall into using unhealthy behaviours to get it, you can get help. You don’t have to rely on others for your confidence. The best source of self-esteem is feeling confident about yourself . otherwise , the love of others may never feel sincere to you.

Attention is good- if you are getting it in healthy ways. If you’re not, making changes and even going to therapy can help improve many areas of your life. You can build your self-esteem, develop healthier habits,and enjoy fulfilling, rewarding relationships.

Photo: Courtesy

Psychotherapy is the most common and effective treatment choice for HPD. This kind of therapy involves talking to a therapist about your feelings and experiences. Such talks can help you and your therapist determine the reasoning behind your actions and behaviours. Your therapist may be able to help you learn how to relate with people in a positive manner, instead of continually trying to get attention from them.

Take the first step and help in fighting the menace of mental illness in our societies.

Dr Tracey Marks in her youtube channel delved more into this topic and here is the video to help you better understand HPD.

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