25 thoughts on “The Explosive Personality: Understanding Histrionic Traits

  • May 7, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I am married to a narcissist but I have recently moved out. Five years ago I owned a house, a house full of beautiful furniture and a great car that was paid for. I now have nothing. Every word of this article is true but living thru it was horrible and painful. I now believe he never even loved me. My theme song is “after you hell should be easy”. Beware of these people and run the other way if they display ANY of these behaviors. They will destroy your life. They seem normal but they really are just faking it.

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    • May 8, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Daisy:
      Thank you for your comments. You are correct, individuals with inflexible or chronic personality dysfunction can cause a lot of problems for your own life. You must take care of your own psyche and if that means separating from someone who has very detrimental personality characteristics, do it. As difficult as it may be, you must care for yourself because someone with a personality “dysfunction” will often not change, need years of therapy that may or may not benefit them, or become abusive. Each situation is different. You’re the only one who can make the judgment call.
      All the best

      Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 5:49 am

    With all due respect, I am not sure if you are a good therapist in general and I really think you may not be a right person to work with People who are diagnosed with any types of personality disorder. The first quality of a therapist beside being competent is to having a respectful relationship with their patients,and having some level of compassion or at least understanding about the pain and suffering that their patients are experiencing. I really hope you are not working with children or young people who have difficulties in personality domains. Sorry, my intention is not to be disrespectful to you, but I am concerned about your patients!

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    • May 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Kohan:
      I would not be concerned about my patients or offending me, but I would be concerned about your limited view of mental health and lack of knowledge of personality disorders. Compassion and respect are essential qualities of a therapist that often come before anything else in treatment. Of course, this is 100% needed in any type of relationship.
      Personality disorders can be difficult and those who have disordered personalities can manipulate those on the “outside.” You have to know when to extend compassion and when to relinquish it, because many individuals who are narcissistic, sociopathic, or even those who suffer from borderline or histrionic personality disorders can manipulate your compassion. It takes a very keen therapist with experience, discernment, and insight to work with individuals who have personality disorders. Many therapists struggle with certain populations and personality disorders is certainly an area in which I strive to improve.
      Thanks for your input

      Reply
    • December 18, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      I keep coming back to this page because it comforts me. I am diagnosed with an aggressive case of PTSD and the “avoidance cluster.” The reason? My Histrionic mother. She kidnapped me from my father when I was in 2nd grade. As a consequence, I’ve lived in an emotional gulag for the past 30+ years hearing about how I was wrong, how I’m at fault, how it’s all my fault that… Thank you. You’ve given me a reason to believe that, no, I’m not wrong. The child inside of me feels validated. Finally. It’s been a long, painful road.

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      • December 26, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        Brenda, thank you for your comment. You mimic quite a few individuals who suffer from this condition. HPD is very difficult for sufferers, friends, and family to live with. It takes years of counseling, support, and love to “recover” from the pain that kick-started this condition.

        I wish you well

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  • May 8, 2014 at 8:56 am

    What happens when two Histrionic personalities get together and one is stronger?

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    • May 8, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Not sure what you mean exactly, but there will be obvious strife in the relationship and perhaps years of mental and emotional abuse between the two and perhaps among children involved.

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  • May 8, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I have dealt with 2 people suffering from this. Your description of the affliction is spot on. My mother was a textbook case. She has since passed away, but she caused herself and others so much pain as there was not one professional, despite seeing various doctors daily, whowas able to diagnose her properly.

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    • May 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Robin:
      I am sorry to hear this. You are not alone in this because many families have suffered with these types of personalities and have often come up empty handed. Families are often the victims, but sometimes the person with the personality disorder is also the victim because they push others away, have difficulty with relationships, and often struggle with self-esteem and correcting their destructive behaviors. Many therapists also give up because personality disorders can be very difficult to identify (causing misdiagnosis or lack of treatment),work with, and treat.
      I wish you well

      Reply
  • May 8, 2014 at 11:24 am

    nice to see it’s easy to classify individuals based on their behavior, yet what about the question why? I’m very interested to learn more about myself, yet from the same attitude that my parents gave me, may for certain guarantee the same results. If there is any content to this article I can expand on please contact me . Thanks

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  • May 9, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I have a best friend who fits into this type of disorder. I have been friends with her for the past 2 yrs 8 mnths…From the beginning was very curious to understand her when she frequently stated that all guys are following her & they are proposing her despite she being married and having a child. Recently I have done a course in Counseling where i studied Personality disorders & now i could figure out what disorder she has !
    Can you help me how to deal with her without causing harm to myself, her or her family…

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  • May 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Married 17 year to a person with this disorder. We have two children and I had to leave him last year. I was a stay at home mom when it got uncontrollable. He started to drink 24/7, stopped eating and became so manipulative that I didn’t know which way was up. He left me with no home, car……nothing. I cant express enough how he tried to destroy me. He only cares about himself and his needs. He thinks he better and smarter than everyone.

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    • May 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Debbie:
      Thank you for your comment. You are explaining typical examples of histrionic and narcissistic personalities. Very difficult to live and compromise with.

      Reply
  • September 11, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I was married for 6 years to a supposed HPD based upon heresay evidence of my descriptions of her to my extremely talented therapist when I was callously kicked to the curb, shut out of my own condo and married life. I received vague answers to all my questions (why? what happened? did you meet someone else? what did I do, not do?). I would describe her as a beautiful woman with the emotional stability of a howler monkey and the depth of a shallow puddle. Cruel I know, forgive me. The beginning was amazing, we clicked, she latched onto me, convinced me, moved in quickly…I was knocked off my feet and then the red flags. Talked loud enough in public to attract unwanted attention (including a stalker) over and over again. She’d blamed others for losing her car keys!!! Said all her co-workers were out to get her, steal her commissions, made mountains out of molehills. Her business failed several times. In restos people thought she was ripping me a new hole when in fact she was just describing her day at work. Eyes bulging, mouth spitting food. It took hours to calm her down almost everyday. I worked hard on my marriage. She said all the right things to me and our families but her actions at the end belied a devious plan. Even her family were always suspicious of her and accused her of stealing the limelight from her nieces and nephew’s special days. Yet, I loved her still which sheds light on my own problems (trophy girls were my weakness)…..she found a new life while married and I was working far away, new friends (again), got fired from her job (again), partied etc…classic. It nearly destroyed me but I survived to start fresh many many kms away from her and blocked her emails. I filed for divorce which took 5 years to complete. Even her emails to our attorneys were accusations, lies and incredibly angry..omg. I still have no idea what I did to upset her, guess I didn’t follow the her plan of begging and keeping a candle lit waiting for her to return. If you suspect yr significant other is HPD, run, run far away because they will hurt you deeply and blame you for forcing their hand. They justify everything, every insult, every cold calculating action. Took me years to get over her. I was hoping to hear an apology for the way she destroyed our life together and our future plans but I was told not to hold my breath…lol.

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    • October 6, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Alain:
      Thanks for sharing. Your story is very similar to the many people who have lived their lives held captive by someone suffering from a personality disorders. I often tell families that the true suffering person in regards to personality disorders are those around the individual with the diagnosis. If you are very unfamiliar with symptoms, you can get swept away very quickly. It sounds like you almost did. Sometimes, as I’ve said before, you certainly might have to end the relationship entirely, although this should be a last resort. Sadly, most individuals with personality disorders create the puddle of mess and blame others. It’s classic, as you put it.

      You did the right thing in escaping. Good for you.

      Reply
  • October 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I currently live with a HPD female and it is hell. She’ll never sit still long enough for an official diagnosis so she will never be treated. She’d wriggle like a snake, verbally, physically,if anybody tried. I researched the subject to the end, it’s HPD for sure, there’s no doubt about that. Confrontations out of the blue are the No1 worst aspect. A nice relaxing evening ends with being confronted over something I’ve said or done that afternoon or maybe quite a while ago. I ask why it was not an issue at the time or why everythings been fine since if it was such a massive issue !!! Her reaction is an instant very high level aggressive barrage of very below the belt insults. This happens most evenings, i cant cope anymore. They create an unsolveable twisted paradox for their victim to struggle with which is fine by them as long as your attention is on their issue. Positive attention-Need it. Negative attention-Bring it on, they love it. Constantly tested.Belittled.Crushed .Destroyed.

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    • October 6, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      Hi Crushed:
      Thanks for writing in.
      Histrionic personality traits are often very difficult to live with. The emotional volcanoes individuals with this diagnosis set off is enough to totally damage those around them.The key to understanding HPD is to remember that emotional exaggeration is often the underlying problem. This doesn’t mean that the emotions the person feels are false, but it does mean that the emotions the person feels will be exhibited in very dramatic ways.
      It’s difficult for the person with histrionic traits to obtain and maintain relationships and even harder for other’s to remain in relation to them. It’s emotionally exhausting!

      I encourage you to re-examine this relationship and determine if it is healthy enough for you to be apart of. Sometimes the best decision is letting go and sometimes letting go means walking away entirely.

      I wish you all the best

      Reply
      • March 4, 2017 at 8:57 pm

        Tamara, What to do when the explosions are your daughter? Smallest things set her off. She is now saying that her father and I are the cause of her failing marriage. I know that is not the case, and that she is lashing out. She is now using the children to say you will not see them….ever. Its so hard. I am now numb to it.
        I know she needs help, desperately. Everyone is a target or scapegoat. She is never ever wrong. The name calling now is even out of control. Tonights outburst i just let her talk and scream, and said we are here for you. Please get some help.
        Just a mom.

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      • March 4, 2017 at 11:53 pm

        Hi Mom,
        This is very difficult. Has she tried medication before? If so, was it a mood stabilizer? Some girls/women benefit a great deal by medications that regulate their emotions and their mood. Some take birth control for this reason, while others take mood stabilizers like Cymbalta, Celexa, or Klonopin.I would mention this if the mood swings are overbearing. Sometimes medication can be used temporarily to control emotions until the person is able to learn better ways of responding and regulating their emotions. Therapy may also be helpful, if she is willing to talk to someone.
        Take care

        Reply
  • October 17, 2014 at 11:09 am

    One day my wife decided to proclaim separation. At the time 7 months ago she began partying and losing weight from not eating and exercise. Her face book profile changed every week with a picture of her … fishing for compliments. Men immediately picked up on that and started to compliment on her looks. That lead to the 1st affair. After caught she was remorseful and wanted to work on our marriage. Over the next months I would leave the house 4 times only to begged to come home she would change. Once back she would revert back to partying and lying where she was going. Most recently we committed to marriage counseling and she a greed to work on the marriage as we were making plans for family events weeks out. That same weekend/next day after counseling she went on a date with a man and bought him back to our house. I caught him in my bed asleep. I am in legal trouble that’s all I can say. I went back to the same councilor and she introduced me to histrionics. I was stunned to she comfortably fit a majority of the traits. low self esteem – always seeking attention – not taking responsibility for her action always blaming someone else. Just recently she said the marriage councilor manipulated her to say she would work on the marriage and she is an evil person. I have two children one with ADHD and she can never handle him because it takes concentration , creativity and work to manage his condition. She lashed out at him physically and verbally all the time then would spoil him to make amends. Very dysfunctional for him because he saw the abuse came with a reward. Although divorce is enviable I am at a loss on what to do. If she is willing to bring back strange men to the house where my kids sleep who knows what will happen when she leaves them alone as she has done many times over the last months

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    • February 16, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Ditto

      Reply
  • December 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I have a sister-in-law exhibiting these characteristics. However, she has some of the family members convinced that she is just making bad choices because of my brother and their current financial situation. I have been accused of not giving her the benefit of the doubt, being too quick to label and judge, and not appreciating the fact that she has said she loves me.
    They have two children. They have struggled financially for years. My brother is the only one that has managed to hold onto a decent job. She has bounced from job to job. As a stay at home parent, she disappears for hours at a time, comes home drunk and late, and does not get up until late the next afternoon. She can’t be trusted with money or managing a bank account. Every single time we have a family get together, she ALWAYS finds a way to create drama. There is never a dull moment. She has already left my brother due to her claims that he is cheating on her, he is verbally abusive, and that she never gets time to herself/or to spend money on herself. There is never a dull moment with her. I truly believe she is not capable of a selfless act.
    Her behavior scares her children (ages 2 and 7) and stresses out the family. She is a lush and smokes pot on top of all of that. To make matters worse, she has threatened again to take the kids and leave my brother. She would then live with her mother and alcoholic father.
    She has lied, manipulated and tried to split the family. Any advice?

    Reply
  • October 26, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I have never met a Histrionic person before, certainly a life changing experience. I never had an understanding of this personality disorder. The women was a co-worker and became a “friend” for a little more that a year. At the very beginning, my gut told me something was not right with this person. She would say things that were very personal, like “They fired me from my last job, they were jealous” or “My daughter blocks my phone calls and Facebook” or “My boyfriend kept me up all night having sex”. In my mind, I would find these private.

    She started a flirtation with me. It began with “I want a man like you” , the next week it was “I want a man like you or You” I fell into the flirt, not proud of it. She would always have some sexual undertone in everything. And there was always “loud” exaggerated speech and laughter that didn’t seem to fit the situation. Drama about everything! Her dog was dying, her teeth hurt, her daughter wouldn’t talk to her. Everyday there was something. I remember that I said a word “intimate” that sent her into a rage. She never wanted to speak to me again? The next day everything was fine?? I attempted to meet here outside of work, to talk, to get to know this person. Every meeting she cancelled, or had some excuse….duh! The rages and get back together went on for months. She finally got transferred to another store, but I was hooked. I went to see her at here new store. She went into a rage stating that she was going to get a “restraining order” against me. Her final text was “I hope your wife is home when they deliver it”

    She meets every symptom of the HPD diagnosis perfectly. Sad! As a finale, she called recently to tell me that “everyone” loves her at the new store, and she is “such a good catch” This just re-confirmed my thoughts about here problems. I have never known a person like this. I feel sad and still bewildered by her behavior.

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  • August 12, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for hosting this site and allowing people to vent. For those of us, who have suffered through one or more of these relationships, online forums are a needed cathartic release. As a people pleaser w/ deep ptsd, these beings are attracted to me like flies. Took a 15+ year insane roller coaster of a relationship w/ a the angry borderline, followed by a second cluster b who represses her anger emotional affair, where I was at the end of my rope and went full-PHd on personality disorders. Had no idea what this even was or why.

    The signature red flag is inability to be genuinely intimate. not talking sex, I’m talking emotionally intimate. aka zero empathy when it counts. They will fake it most excellently or avoid it like the plague w/ small-talk topic change. They will also ask your entire life story for a reason. I gave them all of it, knowing something wasn’t right. You get that feeling in your gut. Why does she keep asking about every last life story, when I don’t ask for shit. Then, the kick in the teeth will be when they use your life story sorrows to inflict harm in an argument. It’s definitely pathological but it takes months to realize this. And if you’re an empath, you’ll need substances to deal w their bs. Hey, the good news – both drug addiction and borderlines can be conquered and when you do, you will be beyond complacent in your soul. And watch as they keep trying they same repeated behavior w/ pity – I guess it’s encoded into their dna. good luck!

    Reply
 

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