Histrionic Personality Disorder – One of the Claims Arising from the Penn State Pedophilia Trial
The Huffington Post reported here that the lawyers for accused pedophile Jerry Sandusky have claimed Histrionic Personality Disorder may be a factor in his behavior.
This diagnosis would not mean he’s medically incompetent, nor does it mean he is insane, rather his ‘behavior has another label than pedophilia’.
Histrionic Personality Disorder is one of the disorders that is being removed from the newest edition of the Diagnostic Manual. But it currently has a set of diagnostic criteria which can be evaluated to determine diagnosis.
People with this disorder are usually able to function at a high level and can be successful socially and at work. But relationships with them are difficult because they often:
- Dress seductively and act flirtatiously
- Behave dramatically to ensure they are the center of attention
- Behave as though performing for an audience with exaggerated emotions and expressions, but seems to lack sincerity in their personal relationships
- Are overly concerned with appearance and their looks
- Lack a reliable gauge of the depth of emotional relationships, often assuming a deeper intimacy than is real
- Are gullible and easily influenced by others – especially those who pander to their emotional ‘staging’
- Are overly sensitive to criticism or disapproval
- Make rash, poorly thought out decisions
- Blame failure or disappointment on others
- Constantly seek reassurance or approval
- Have low tolerance for frustration or delayed gratification; very sensitive to criticism or disapproval
- Need to be the center of attention and often show a high degree of selfishness
- Rapidly shift from one emotional state to another, usually appearing shallow and insincere
- Threaten or attempt suicide for attention (this has contributed to many peoples’ failure to recognize sincere threats of suicide in a loved one)
- Easily bored by routine, unable to complete projects and quickly loses interest in people, places and things
Persons having half of these symptoms over an extended period of time are usually diagnosed with Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Have you noticed how similar some of these symptoms are to borderline personality disorder or antisocial/psychopathic personality disorder? Good for you. They have many similar characteristics, which makes diagnosis and treatment a challenge. It is one of the reasons, I believe for the change in the upcoming Diagnostic Manual
As with the other personality disorders, persons with this one are very hard to live with and they can wreak havoc on their loved ones. Due to their need to be the center of attention and their inability to take any criticism, they appear to lack maturity and the ability to deal with life on life’s terms.
Medications are often prescribed for people with this disorder. Ironically, their failed relationships may cause depression (as in other people) even though they lack the depth of the relationship of others. Anxiety is another possible outcome from their ‘failures’ and this is also treated with medication. But the disorder itself has no pill for treatment. Rather the emotional outcomes of their experience are treated with meds and therapy is needed for recovery for the disorder. As with every personality disorder, this can be an almost impossible task, since the client does not think there’s anything wrong with them – all their problems are someone else’s fault.
It doesn’t take much insight to guess at the problems a person with Histrionic Personality Disorder might cause in a family. Screaming matches, coming ‘on’ to siblings’ spouses and/or friends, always needing to be the center of attention, whether because they’re sick or elated are common manifestations of this disorder. When this is coupled with financial and emotional immaturity, it is easy to see a wide range of problems that arise in the close and extended family.
Often one parent does not see the problem as a mental health issue, but rather buys into the explanation of ‘bad luck’ and lousy karma. Less often this role might be fulfilled by a sibling, but regardless, this always fuels resentment, strife and stress within the family unit. Enablers abound for those with personality disorders – unfortunately they do more harm than good.
Remember, no diagnosis of yourself or others. It’s okay to vent your frustrations if you know someone who matches these symptoms though.
Thanks to the following sites for information for this post.