Exploring Histrionic personality disorder

Exploring the differences between Histrionic and borderline personality disorder. By Sharilynn H


Conversations involving mental health may be uncomfortable. However, psychology is not a science meant to make people feel comfortable. Instead, the study of psychology is to study human behavior and extrapolate information from our psyche to help improve our lives, particularly when people suffer from conditions that may negatively impact their mental health. Psychology is a field of science involving multiple areas of study such as cognitive psychology, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, and many more. While each specialized field may differ, they all aim to explore the psychology and the human psyche without judgment. Therefore psychology is a field of science that requires you to keep an open mind and put all prejudice aside for the greater good of human development.

Personality disorders

There are different personality disorders listed in the DSM5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition). Although criteria may differ, they all have one defining feature in that they cause people emotional distress. A personality disorder can impair cognitive functions and disturb emotional well-being. Many conditions are misunderstood and are often co-morbid with other disorders. Many personality disorders can overlap each other, though each specific type usually involves defining features to meet specific criteria for diagnoses; therefore, only a skilled mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, should provide diagnoses.

Neurological vs personality disorders.

Personality disorders may not develope the same way some mental disorders do. Mental disorders are often the result of neurological influences in terms of genetic predisposition like autism. On the other hand, there does appear to be a neurological response in people with BPD, such as how their brain responds to external stimuli. It appears their arousal levels increase faster than the average persons response to ordinary situations. For information on mental disorders click the link below.

In my previous article PERSONALITY DISORDERS VS. MENTAL DISORDERS. IDENTIFYING THE DIFFERENCES below – https://style-health.com/index.php/2021/06/01/personality-disorders-vs-mental-disorders-identifying-the-differences-by-sharilynn-h/

Emotion Regulation and BPD

Borderline personality is classified as a mood disorder. People with BPD typically have emotionally intense relationships. Their emotions may range from frequent anger, frustration to elation, remorse, and back to anger. It’s often like a game of tug and war going back and forth between emotional highs and spiraling lows.

When it comes to finding balance, the emotional stability of people dealing with BPD is often inconsistent and tends to swing from one extreme to the next. However, DBT is a type of therapy that often helps those cope with behavior issues related to mood disorders. It appears that from a neurological and psychological perspective, people with BPD attain a higher level of emotional stimulation and take a significant amount of time to return to baseline arousal levels.

This is commonly found in personality types that fall into cluster B, such as people with a histrionic personality disorder. However, not all cluster B personality disorders are the same. People with histrionic personality disorder have a strong desire to be noticed and require constant attention and validation to function. This behavior is prominent primarily in romantic, friendship, and family relationships. If someone happens to have a BPD personality disorder, it can cause them to respond more volatile and emotional to a relatively small insignificant event.

BPD (Borderline personality disorder)

A borderline personality disorder is often the result of trauma. Many people with this disorder understand that their behavior isn’t healthy but does not know how to control their emotional responses. This is where DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy) comes in. It is effective in helping those with the condition learn how to develop skills to process emotion better. 

People with BPD are not attention-seeking. They long for are stable, secure relationships yet can’t find a way to create stability within themselves. This is often the crux of the BPD condition. People with the condition long for secure attachment but may sabotage good relationships to shield themselves from disappointment or getting hurt. The BPD emotional response is ultimately a form of self-preservation, an unhealthy and toxic learned response to trauma. Their minds are like fragmented pieces of a conscience that never had the chance to form into a secure solid whole. Instead, it embodies areas of stability and instability.

Histrionic personality disorder

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking behaviors, usually beginning in early childhood, including seductive inappropriate behavior towards men/woman with an excessive desire for approval.

Histrionic personality differs from BPD in many ways; however, it may exhibit similar emotional dysregulation characteristics. For example, people with a histrionic personality disorder may take an ordinary situation and turn it into something bigger than it is to be the focal point of attention. People with Histrionic personality disorder find it hard to function when they are not the center of attention; many also struggle to take criticism and often interpret feedback as an attack.

For people with the histrionic disorder, much of their self-worth depends on being liked or acknowledged. BPD, however, differs in the sense that people with the condition seek secure attachment due to fears of abandonment due to past trauma. In contrast, people with BPD are often Self-saboteurs. Self-saboteurs thoughts and reactions are based on fear, mistrust, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. However, both disorders can overlap.


Self-sabotaging behavior isn’t exclusive to BPD but many other disorders, including histrionic personality disorder. The critical difference is that BPD may disregard relationships out of fear. In contrast, a Histrionic personality may self-sabotage relationships if it doesn’t serve a purpose or feed their need for validation. People with Histrionic personality may not see their behavior as wrong; however, their need for attention may cause their behavior to turn vindictive to evoke an emotional response from others. 

The BPD trauma response is often the result of learned behavioral defense responses to trauma to shield themselves from further trauma. Histrionic personality is generally the result of low self-esteem due to a lack of support from parents and even peers. However, both disorders, including other forms of mental and personality disorders, make exceptional progress when treated with psychotherapy.

Treatment for historic/ personality disorders

The severity of each mental illness depends on how it affects a person’s quality of life and those around them; with that in mind, any mental illness left untreated runs the risk of increasing severity with the possibility of becoming co-morbid with other disorders. A disorder can exist on its own, but it can also co-occur with other disorders. For example, Narcissistic Personality Disorder can exist independently but can also co-occur with others like Borderline Personality Disorder. The treatment of DBT works with patients with various disorders through talk therapy to find the reason behind specific behaviors.


While Histrionic personality disorder is often referred to as the “drama queen” of the disorders it’s important to understand that personality disorders differ in severity and should not be judged negatively. Instead, personality disorders should be approached from a professional psychological perspective that aims to understand, not judge. Moreover, personality disorders are often the result of treatment or exposure to an unhealthy environment. Therefore Irrespective of past behavior, you are not your mistakes and can always seek professional help that teaches you healthier behavioral skills in order to do better.

For information regarding how DBT works, check out the article below


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Sharilynn Hanslo
About the author: Shari enjoys writing about topics that interest her. She is a Bachelor of science - psychology major with a background in nutrition and fitness. She enjoys travelling to new countries and immersing herself in a new culture. She's also taught English in Cambodia and Thailand as well as spent some time in Europe."I'm biracial, born in South Africa, and have an identity crisis at least once a year"

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