Histrionic Personality Disorder Myths

It’s not unusual to find lots of misinformation about personality disorders, and histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is no different. This stems from a couple of things—a lack of thorough research on the subject and the stigmas surrounding mental illness. Here’s a look at five common HPD myths and where they go wrong.

  1. “People with HPD lack empathy.”It’s a common misconception that people with Histrionic personality disorder behave the way they do because they lack empathy for others. However, this is not necessarily the case—some would argue that the characteristics associated with HPD actually show great empathy. For example, the attention seeking behaviors and transgression of interpersonal boundaries can just as easily be interpreted as an attempt to entertain and make others feel valued as they can be a sign that someone is unaware of how his or her actions affect others.
  2. “People with HPD are responsible for their condition.”As with many mental illnesses, there are those who believe that people with histrionic personality disorder choose to act the way they do. However, this line of thinking raises the question as to why anyone would choose to act in such a way that makes them so socially unacceptable.
  3. “People are born with HPD.”While there is currently no consensus about the origins of HPD, it’s highly unlikely that is has a solely genetic basis. The characteristics associated with the condition are highly dependent on social norms that dictate how we interact with others, and since no one is born presocialized, there is no way that HPD could be present from birth.
  4. “People with HPD can’t live fulfilling lives.”While in some cases histrionic personality disorder may impair the everyday functioning of individuals, many people with the condition live full and satisfying lives. Certain symptoms, such as hypersexualized behavior, may open people up to health risks, but the biggest risk to patients is the social stigma attached to the condition. If a person is unconcerned with the opinions of others, he or she may not be worried about the social consequences of certain actions.
  5. “HPD affects all demographics.”It’s true that anyone can develop histrionic personality disorder, but according to statistics, women are much more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than men. The reason for this disparity is still unclear. Some would point to the genetic differences between men and women, while others would argue that the behaviors associated with HPD are culturally considered less problematic in men than women—leading to their higher diagnosis rates.

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