Histrionic personality disorder DLT Definition

Histrionic personality disorder is a polymorphic concept supported by descriptive literature and clinical tradition, but not so much by valid empirical research. It is characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking, and by dramatic, colourful, and extroverted behaviour. Egocentric, dependent, and demanding interpersonal relationships are typical of this disorder, which begins in early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts.

Historical perspective Early contributions

Histrionic personality disorder is a descendant of 'hysteria' described by Hippocrates 2400 years ago. It was included in scientific medicine by Kraepelin, (65> who described multiple symptoms, including capricious and inconsistent behaviour, histrionic exaggeration, and a life of illness, which captured the core pattern of the illness.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Charcot and Janet linked hysteria with conversion symptoms. Through the work of Bernheim and Freud, the personality characteristics of patients displaying hysterical phenomena provided an important impetus to the development of psychoanalysis. Freud (66> recognized the relationship between hysterical neurosis and what he called the 'erotic personality, whose major goal in life is the desire to love or above all to be loved'. The first psychoanalytic description of hysterical personality was given by Wittels (67> and refined by Reich,(68) who focused on the oral and genital determinants of the disorder.

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