The Drama Queen

Key words: Drama Queen, histrionic personality disorder, dramatic personality disorder, childhood trauma, psychotherapy.


The Drama Queen. What is histrionic personality disorder? What can bring it about? Are there complications? How does the partner relate? Is there treatment for histrionic personality disorder?

There are certain people whose behavior seem to be dramatic in nature, as if they are acting in a movie. Their pattern of dressing are very seductive and they crave to be the center of attention.

These characteristics are fixed and not flexible and presents in all situations. This means that everyone recognizes these as being in their character.

Such people are popularly called drama queens. And also nicknamed ‘gbaza queen’ in Igbo language. They have exaggerated emotions towards normal everyday happenings. For example, in a normal situation where a little laughter is necessary, they will overdo it. The drama queen will scream while laughing and kick up her legs. Seeing an ant, she will scream. And anyone watching will wonder why such a drama.

The drama queen is constantly seeking for attention in a situation where people are gathered. She will talk loud or greet a stranger by hugging the person and making their greeting very loud. By so doing, all attention turns to her. And when it comes to social media, the posts she makes is all about her and her quest for admiration.

This drama queen is known as a person with histrionic personality disorder. This means that the person has a maladaptive way of thinking and behaving, which affects her functioning.

What is histrionic personality disorder?

The Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is also known as a dramatic personality disorder. This is a psychiatric disorder that comes with exaggerated emotions and attention-seeking behaviors.

Some of their behavior characteristics include being dramatic, excitable and erratic. They are also flirtatious, seductive, charming, manipulative, impulsive, and very lively in nature. When they get to a party, they are the life of that party.

There are different subtypes, so one person with histrionic personality disorder may not present with all that is written here. Some may even present with some other symptoms not documented here. Some of these subtypes include the appeasing, tempestuous, theatrical, etc. subtypes. The disorder occurs in both gender, but more in females.


In their seductive nature, the wear clothes that are bright in colour or that are revealing. This means most of the time, their dressing reveals their body, breasts or buttocks, or even their legs.

They wear everything matching. These includes bags, shoes, jewelries, etc. they take out time for their hairs and nails, etc. These are used to attract attention to themselves.

Such people make use of inappropriate sexual means to attract attention from strangers. But they are not sexually attracted to the person. For the histrionic person to engage in inappropriate sex, depends on the societal norms. If the society is open and sexually permissive in nature, they too will engage in sex. But if the environment the person grows up in is strict and reserved, the person will be sexually inhibited.

Attention seeking:

Such persons love to be noticed wherever they are. If they are not noticed, they must do things to attract attention. This could be talking loud, moving about greeting people unnecessarily, etc. Such a behavior attracts people to them and they have many friends.

They will deliberately go to meetings late and when they get there, they will disrupt the meeting proceedings by making loud greetings. And when they do not get the attention they want, they become irritable.

And they do a lot of daydreaming. The daydreaming centers on how to get attention and love.

They are manipulative:

Such a person exercises control and harmful influence over other people, while concealing her true intentions.

Dramatic and emotional:

Those with histrionic personality disorder are very dramatic. They behave as if they are on a movie stage.

Their dramatic and very emotional expressive behaviors are usually embarrassing to friends and family, especially when they are in public. This could be where the name drama queen was coined from.

Gullible or suggestible:

Such people are very easily suggestible and gullible. So they easily follow the trend without thinking and questioning.

They are easily influenced by others and are ready to appease others to their own detriment.


They are impulsive in nature and can make decisions and take actions without thinking.


Those with this type of personality argue a lot. And this may make them seem very confrontational, even to their friends. This is because they have a lot of mood swings. They are also prone to being bullies.

What are the causes and risk factors to histrionic personality disorder?


Just like other personality disorders, histrionic personality disorder is inherited. So it is passed from the genes of the parents to the child.

Childhood trauma:

People can develop this personality disorder from childhood traumas. This can emanate from childhood abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.

These parents did not give much attention to their children.  But then some parents over praised these children, especially when they were dramatic and entertaining. Being raised in a dysfunctional home can be a big risk factor.

Poor parenting methods:

Children raised by parents who are very permissive and that lack boundaries, are at risk.

Parents who are dramatic in behavior and model inappropriate sexual behaviuors, put their children at risk of having the disorder.

Parents with mental health issues:

The parents who have mental illness or abuse substance also put their children at risk of having histrionic personality disorder.

What complications comes with histrionic personality disorder?

They are prone to mental illness such as mood swings, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders with panic attacks, somatic disorder and suiciality. The somatic disorders can come as headaches, backaches, menstrual pains, etc.

They are also prone to abusing substances, such as alcohol, cannabis, etc.  Such people may also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Because of their maladaptive behaviours, they may have problems with their partners. They are prone to being victims or perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Separation and divorce is a possibility in their marriage.

And they are more likely to become single parents. This could be due to their marital issues or to their seductive and sexual nature.

How does the partner handle a loved one with histrionic personality disorder?

Dating or being married to someone with histrionic personality disorder can be quite exhausting. But being in a relationships with someone with histrionic personality disorder can be a successful one. All the partner need do is to learn more about the condition.

The attention seeking behaviours, the flirtatious behavious and even the argumentative nature can cause conflicts in relationships. But efforts put in by the partner, can go a long way to save the relationship or marriage.

To make the relationship work, it is important that the partner becomes supportive.   There is need for the partner to be empathy, have patience, and trusting.

It is important that the partner does not ignore the attention-seeking behaviors. This can get the behavior worse.

Coping strategies:

Have good communication skills –

The partner should learn to communicate openly. Let her know how you feel about some of her behaviours. If the partner expresses his concerns and sets boundaries, she will more often comply when she cares about him.

So the partner should not criticize the person’s behavior. What he should do is to express how the behaviours make him feel and the consequences of such behaviours.

The partner should lead by example. He should be honest and kind. And be ready to pass information to others in a respectful way. These can help her learn how certain behaviors affect others.

Don’t engage in an argument –

The partner should remain calm when the one with the disorder want to start an argument. Then remind her that she is still loved, no matter what. And tell her that you understand that there is a problem, but you will discuss the matter on another date. The partner can do distraction, by suggesting that they take a walk together outside and discuss a different topic all together.

Such issues can be about her dressing and she wants to put on a dress not fit for the occasion. The partner can prevent an argument on this. He can start by first admiring the dress, then suggest a better day for her to wear the dress. But he should also help her pick a good dress for the occasion.

Set boundaries –

When one is dating the person with this type of disorder, set clear boundaries. This means that the partner should inform the person with HPD about behaviours he does not like.

The person may not know that her actions can hurt the partner, unless she is informed. Letting her know can be of help.

Encourage them to think before they act –

During their quiet times, discuss with her about her impulsive nature and the ugly outcomes of such acts. Let her know that before she acts, she should think through such an action so as to avert ugly consequences.

For those woman who is suggestible, acting because someone told her what to do, it is important the partner asks questions. The partner could ask her ‘do you really want to do what someone suggested?’ Then he could further ask if it wasn’t for the suggestion, would she have taken that line of action. And what different action would she have taken if the suggestion did not come. These questions will help to reduce her gullibility.

Have time out for yourself –

Living with a person with HPD, can be quite challenging and draining. So the partner should make out a ‘me time.’

This ‘me time’ is the time the partner takes out to care for himself. Taking care of oneself is as important as caring for the loved one with the disorder. So spend that time with friends or doing things that one enjoys and finds relaxing.

For those unable to cope:

Not everyone has the capacity to be patient and empathic. And for some other people, they could have tried their best without success.

So such people are not well equipped to support the person with HPD. Then when all attempts to save the marriage or relationship fails, then it is time to leave the relationship.

Is there treatment for histrionic personality disorder?

It is important that the partner takes the love one in for treatment of the disorder. This treatment is for the loved one and for the partner.

The treatment comes first from the clinical psychologist who uses psychotherapy. But it is actually a very long road to recovery, which will eventually take place.

Due to the fact that those with HPD suffer from mental illness, it is important also to consult a psychiatrist.


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