5 Things Every Social Worker Should Know About Hysterical Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association defines hysterical personal disorder as one of a range of emotional disorders, in this case being characterized by an excessive amount of attention-seeking behavior. It is rooted in an emotional imbalance, and driven by a perceived need for approval. It frequently involves inappropriately seductive behavior; as it often arises in young adulthood, however, it can be difficult to catch early. Where it exists within a family, it can cause serious issues if left unaddressed, while being easily interpretable by a visiting social worker as something more malicious.

Here are 5 things all social workers should know about hysterical disorder, or HPD:

HPD Affects Millions of Americans

Though not common, hysterical personality disorder affects up to 4% of all Americans, with many more potentially undiagnosed cases. With a population of approximately 320 million people in the United States, this means that there are as many as 10 million people presently diagnosed with the condition. Its symptoms cover a host of behaviors that many people find difficult to deal with, resulting in potential sources of personal support turning away from the afflicted individual, rather than offering help. This leads to a lot of undiagnosed cases, as people with hysterical personality disorder are already primed to believe that their problems stem from other people not caring enough about them.

Individuals with HPD Need to Be the Center of Attention

A person with hysterical disorder must always be the focus of all of the attention of everyone around them, or they act out in an attempt to reach that point. A person may act as though they hate being the center of attention; they may even feel embarrassed by it, or not acknowledge it consciously, but the driving need to have all eyes on them is still present. This most commonly involves seductive behavior, particularly at times or in locations where this kind of behavior would seem unusual or inappropriate regardless (such as during a somber formal occasion, or while someone is recuperating from illness) as this usually translates to someone else being the focus of everybody’s attention.

Hysterial Disorder Makes Appearances Important

In both literal and figurative terms, appearances mean a great deal to the individual with HPD. Physical appearance is important, and will often be the focus of obsessive preoccupation by the individual. However, they will also be highly suggestible, in an effort to demonstrate that they merit the attention of the people they’re speaking with. They may act far more experienced than they actually are, in terms of such areas as professional skill, academic achievement and intimacy. This is all part of the effort to impress those around them.

A Person with HPD Can be Challenging to Assist

In addition to needing to be the center of attention at all times, a person with HPD can evident severe symptoms along the way to satisfying their needs. Inappropriately seductive behavior is a part of it, but they also tend to be extremely dramatic in the way they react to everyday situations. When communicating with other people, a person with hysterical personality disorder is extremely manipulative and controlling; everything they say is designed to direct the conversation back towards themselves. Depending upon the personalities of those with whom they are speaking, the person with HPD might belittle, flatter or pander to an individual in an effort to ensure that they’re paying attention.

Associated Behavior Happens Suddenly

As with most behavioral and affective personality disorders, hysterical personality disorder doesn’t necessarily manifest itself all of the time. For example, a person with HPD may seem perfectly fine while dominating a conversation with the only other person in the room, and if that person does not object, there is no apparent problem. In addition, a person with HPD will typically not seek out attention from other people while alone, barring a separate issue which causes them to seek out companionship.

By learning how to effectively identify signs of hysterical disorder, a social worker can avoid leaping to the wrong conclusions about an individual’s behavior. They will be better equipped to assess a situation as to how they might best assist a family, and they are also a qualified professional to aid them in finding assistance and developing healthy coping skills.

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