Histrionic Personality Disorder Feed

Drama Queens May Leave Their Partners Cold

I once asked one of my mentors if there were certain clients he would not work with.  This very empathic and compassionated counselor answered, "borderlines" (people with borderline personality disorder).  I asked why not and he answered, "because I don't like who I have to become in order to work with them".  

At the time I didn't fully understand what he meant, but I do now.  And I see how this might play out in relationships.

People with either borderline or histrionic personality disorder tend to be what most people call "drama queens".  Drama queens typically overdramatize situations or events in order to engage someone emotionally.  For instance, a stumped toe may become a "broken foot" in order to illicit more sympathy or a greater reaction from the listener.  I have a theory that drama queens learn to become drama queens as a result of interacting with parents who do not respond adequately and therefore learn to escalate what is happening to higher levels in order to get a response from the unresponsive parent.  This unresponsiveness can be due to something like the parent's own narcissism or parental drug abuse, anything which makes the parent so wrapped up in themselves that they are unresponsive to their child.  So the child escalates to drama to get their needs met. 

Now that child is an adult and interacting with the world in general.  And they run into someone who has had more than their share of drama queens in their life.   This overexposure can leave one desensitized to dramatic representations and hypersensitive to the use of them.  If a person has lived with a lot of drama queens, and they suspect that their partner is overdramatizing an event or experience, they may discount or minimize the severity of it to compensate for the overdramatization.  This has the reverse effect the dramatic person is seeking.  Their partner underresponds.  So the rama queen escalates further - to which their partner underresponds even more.  A vicious circle ensues.  The drama queen feels rejected or abandoned and escalates the drama trying to engage their partner.  Their partner feels manipulated and retreats more.

So what's the solution?  I think awareness is 99% of any recovery program.  Knowing what you are doing and understanding why you are doing it is paramount.  Then you can begin to be more mindful and make decisions with more awareness.  If you tend to be a drama queen, evaluate the accuracy of your presentations.  Be aware of your tendency to exaggerate, understand the origins of this behavior and focus on being more accurate in the present.  

If, on the other hand, you're the partner of a drama queen and you're feeling cold and unresponsive you might look at your past relationships.  Are you currently involved with a drama queen who has burnt out your empathetic response system?  Or do you have a history of involvement with drama queens that is causing you to discount honest emotional pleas from your current partner?


See also:  Drama Queens:  Children of Narcissistic Parents?

See also:  The Origins of Drama Queens?




Personality Disorders

A lot of clients I see are diagnosed with Axis I disorders like Schizophrenia, Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder when in actuality, they are suffering from a Personality Disorder.  Personality Disorders are rarely discussed because they ultimately cannot be medicated and require long term psychotherapy.  Insurance companies do not cover them and, at least where I live, the county mental health authority does not treat them.  So in order for people with Personality Disorders to get any help, they are mislabeled as one of the "Big Three" (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression) - disorders which are covered by most systems.  I think this is a great disservice to patients and clients.  People have a right to know what is really going on with them and what the proper treatment provided.  What are Personality Disorders?

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Bipolar vs. Borderline vs. Histrionic vs. PTSD

I continue to see numerous clients who have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and placed on medication.  They often complain of "mood swings" and state this as the reason for being "Bipolar".  Yet when I talk to them I find that what they often are is "emotional".  This emotionality can be the result of circumstances in their lives (divorce, death of a loved one, job loss) or from a diagnosis other than Bipolar Disorder.  What are these diagnoses and why does this trend to overdiagnose and medicate for Bipolar Disorder concern me?

Continue reading "Bipolar vs. Borderline vs. Histrionic vs. PTSD" »