Research also shows that histrionic people can also develop alexithymia which makes it harder for them to recognize or express their feelings. These symptoms of histrionic personality disorder may start appearing during childhood or even early adulthood.
What causes histrionic personality disorder?
Researchers are yet to identify the precise cause for the onset of HPD. However, certain factors like genetics, upbringing, environment and brain structure, may greatly influence the onset of this personality disorder. Moreover, intense stress and anxiety during childhood or adolescence may also lead to its development. Let us take a look at some of the causes and risk factors that may contribute to the development of this mental condition in someone:
1. Genetic factors
Histrionic personality disorder tends to run in families. Research indicates that there may be a genetic predisposition for cluster B personality disorders. If you have a first-degree family member with HPD or a personality disorder, then it is likely that you may be affected by the disorder as well. Twin studies also show that there is a strong relation between genetics and Cluster B personality disorders.
Parenting style can also be a determining factor in the onset of HPD. According to a recent study, “Parenting which lacks boundaries is over-indulgent or inconsistent may predispose children to develop a histrionic personality disorder.” Inconsistent or neglectful parenting can result in non-existent or poor boundaries that can affect a child’s emotional and psychological development.
Apart from this, a child can also learn such behavior from parents who display volatile, dramatic and oversexualized behavior. Children may also resort to such inappropriate behavior to draw attention from primary caregivers. Moreover, if a child receives positive reinforcement or rewards for overdramatic behavior then they may also develop histrionic tendencies.
3. Childhood abuse or trauma
Trauma, abuse, or neglect experienced during childhood is another crucial factor that may influence its development. Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse can often increase the liklelihood of histrionic personality. The APA explains that research has indicated a significant “link between the number and type of childhood traumas and the development of personality disorders.”
Children who experience trauma may develop certain personality disorders as a coping mechanism. Family dynamics and excessive household stress can also add to the risks.
4. Brain anatomy
Brain functioning and structure can also be an influencing factor as well. Our brain creates chemicals that affect our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, behavior, and personality. When certain brain chemicals become dysfunctional or out of balance, a person may develop a histrionic personality.
Research shows that the overly emotional and dramatic behavior of HPD individuals can be due to a disbalance in catecholamines, a type of neurotransmitter. Studies have also found that these personalities possess “highly responsive noradrenergic systems, the mechanisms surrounding the release of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine.”
5. Other factors
Some researchers believe that biopsychosocial factors can also influence the onset of histrionic personality disorder. Psychological factors relate to a child’s environment when they are growing up and the skills they learn; while social factors refer to how we interact with others during our childhood.
Apart from these, the age of a person can also influence the intensity of HPD symptoms. A young person may act more flirtatious and use their physical appearance to draw attention; whereas an older person may use intellect maternal/paternal seductiveness for the same purpose.
How HPD diagnosed
Histrionic people may have a poor social reputation due to their oversexualized behavior. Moreover, it can also affect their intimate relationships and may even affect their daily functioning, based on the intensity of the symptoms. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help a histrionic person to live a more fulfilling and satisfying life. But as HPD can co-occur with other mental disorders, diagnosis can be a challenging and complex process.