Is It Drama Or Is It Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Is It Drama Or Is It Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Within the confines of our minds, whispered conversations with our spouse, or phone conversations locked away from our children, we’ve called them names we regret. Exhausted, we’re completely flabbergasted by our child’s ability to react in the volatile and dramatic way that they do. We can’t say anything to them. Not a suggestion, a rule, an enforcement, a boundary, a gift, or anything helps to stave off the unwarranted drama. We can’t predict it, we can’t contain it, and eventually, we just can’t stand it any longer. Our children are completely out of control.

Histrionic personality disorder can often lead to rash behavior like substance abuse. When a child with HPD starts experimenting with drugs and alcohol, it can exacerbate their mental health symptoms. Trying to intervene with their drug use will only be met with worse drama or reaction. Like trying to feed a lion who doesn’t want to be fed, we become afraid of approaching our children. We’re terrified of what might happen if we don’t.

Understanding Histrionic Personality Disorder

The cause of HPD is unknown. Genetically, the development of any kind of mental health disorder can be the result of a genetic disposition. Often, it is the result of learned behaviors or a response to the environment. For example, a child may have a dramatic parent who yells all the time, so they learn to yell to get what they need. Or, a child might have parents who fight all the time. In order to be heard, they learn to act in extreme ways, for attention. Varying factors of inconsistency regarding attention, positive reinforcement, and acknowledged behavior can have an effect on what the child learns is appropriate.

Matters are complicated further when drugs and alcohol are brought into the mix. Drugs and alcohol can elevate the excitement, reduce the amount of judgment and perception necessary to make good choices, and cause more energy, violence, and drama. Substance abuse in the home can lead to the learned behaviors a child might develop in HPD. A child might also use drugs and alcohol as another mechanism for gaining control.

Problematically, children with HPD are easily encouraged. Suggestibility is a common symptom of HPD, which can make a child vulnerable to the suggestion of abusing drugs and alcohol in order to get attention from peers or parents. Additionally, many children with HPD can be mistaken in the quality of their relationships. Getting attention from peers after following suggestions to abuse substances, they might consider these relationships to be quality and intimate, when they are not.

Other symptoms include:

  • Child seems to be uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention and will often go to extreme measures to draw attention to themselves in any way. This can include hurting someone who they feel is receiving more attention than they are, or hurting themselves.
  • Child seems to be shallow in reaction to other people, which might appear as being insensitive or uncaring for others, or lacking in empathy and compassion.

Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is an adolescent addiction treatment center providing a continuum of care including detox, clinical therapeutic methods, experiential therapies, and academic support. Call us today for information on how we’re building a better tomorrow for our clients: 1-662-598-4214.

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