Understanding Histrionic Personality Trait

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by Christine Hammond

Histrionic is defined as overly dramatic or emotional but as a personality trait histrionic includes overly sexual or provocative.  Interestingly enough a histrionic will see themselves as very sexual even when they are not sexually appealing or even physically attractive.  It is almost as if they have rose colored glasses on when they look in the mirror and then take them off when they look at others.

So what is Histrionic?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, histrionic is no longer a personality disorder in and of itself rather it is now classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify histrionics as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of histrionics are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Emotional – crying uncontrollably
  • Manipulative
  • Attention seeking

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Dresses provocatively
  • Acts very dramatically
  • Gullible
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Makes rash decisions
  • Threatens or attempts suicide

One of the best examples of a histrionic is Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind”.  Her flair for the overly dramatic, the constant demand for attention, the quick foolish decisions, and emphasis on provocative clothing even during her impoverished years is typical histrionic.  It was all about Scarlett and she was furious at anyone who did not give her attention when she wanted it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • “You look nice today” is a safe way to give needed attention without getting into the specifics of their clothing.  Remember they are dressing provocatively on purpose so don’t go too crazy on the compliments.
  • Allow them to be the center of attention for a specific time period to get it out of their system and then they will be more likely to share the stage with others.
  • Do your best to minimize conflict when they are around or they will shut down.  They are not great fighters despite their forwardness.
  • Don’t play into their drama moments.  Instead set firm boundaries in your dealings with them.
  • Don’t get emotional, they have a sixth sense about emotion and will play on it.  Sometimes they even turn the emotion sexual when that was the last thing on your mind.
  • Be very careful because they make rash decisions which means they might agree now but won’t later.

You might be wondering what the difference is between Borderline Personality Disorder and a histrionic because when you put the two disorders side by side they do have some of the same characterizations.  Borderlines don’t tend to be as sexual as histrionics.  While they do engage in inappropriate sexual acts or make overly provocative comments, histrionics take it to the next level and make everything sexual to the point of nauseating.  If you are dealing with this, please get some help.  This is too tiring to deal with alone.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Understanding Depressive Personality Trait

the hoursBeing depressive is not the same thing as having depression.  The two can look the same to an outside person as the symptoms are similar.  The major difference is that a depressive can actually have depression but a person with depression is not depressive.  Depression is situational such as grieving the loss of a friend or it is chemical such as your body overproducing certain hormones.  Depressive is a personality trait and is not based on situation or chemical factors.

So what is Depressive?  Well, according to the new DSM-V, depressive did not make the final personality disorder cut and instead is classified under Personality Disorder Trait Specified (PDTS).  This means that there was not enough research to properly classify depressives as having a named personality disorder but there is evidence enough that it does exist.  So the traits of depressive are still classifiable and qualify as a PDTS.  Here is the technical definition based on the new classification:

  • Depressivity
  • Anxiousness
  • Anhedonia – absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Feels dejected, gloomy, and worthless
  • Self-critical and derogatory
  • Is negativistic, critical and judgmental toward others
  • Pessimistic
  • Feels guilty or remorseful

In the movie “The Hours”, the three main characters all demonstrated different forms of depressive personality.  While each of them was depressed for a period of time, such as the suicide attempt, the overall appearance was a gloomy or depressive state.  This was unchanging no matter how hard the other people in their lives worked to minimize the depressiveness.  The depressiveness never when away completely and two of the three characters learned to live with it.

So how do you deal with a person who might be depressive?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t minimize their feelings of inadequacy or depression; rather reassure them that your support is not contingent upon how they feel.
  • Do a small act of encouragement or show gratefulness to them whenever you can without expecting it to change or modify their behavior.
  • If one thing goes wrong in their life, it all comes crashing down so don’t overreact even if they are over or under reacting.
  • They spiral easily to a depressive state so keep things as smooth as possible.
  • They aren’t able to “look on the bright side” so don’t expect it or get angry when they can’t.
  • Listen to their worries and fears without criticism or judgment.  This is not a spiritual condition and cannot be fixed through spiritual methods; this is a personality condition and is as ingrained as the color of their eyes.

It can be frustrating at times to have a depressive person in your life but their mood does not need to infect your mood.  Learn to set and maintain good boundaries in your life so you don’t feel responsible for trying to help them feel better.  You are not responsible.  Rather get some guidance as to how to approach them and have a healthy relationship despite the depressiveness.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.