Amber’s ‘HPD’ Explained

Histrionic Personality Disorder is characterised by dramatic and flamboyant behaviour, often a tool used to remain the centre of attention.
Amber Heard. (Photo | AP)
Amber Heard. (Photo | AP)

HYDERABAD: Amid Johnny Depp’s $50 million lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, a psychological term that has drawn the public’s attention is Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). It is said to be more common than one would think, especially among women. Clinical psychologists break HPD down for us.

To understand HPD better, Baijesh Ramesh, a clinical psychologist from the city, says it is important to understand what a personality and its disorder is. “All of us have a unique personality, one that is deeply ingrained and relatively stable patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour that we have been showing since childhood through adolescence and adulthood. But sometimes, they tend to get maladapted, where it affects their normal functioning, leading to a personality disorder,” he explains.

Ruhi Panandiker, an M.Phil RCI accredited clinical psychologist, says that people with HPD, in simple words, enjoy the limelight beyond normal.

“They are extravagant in their presentation style and are dramatic, flamboyant, extroverted, and flirtatious. They love attention, praise and frequent validation. While a lot of us have these characteristics, in people with HPD, its a hallmark,” Ruhi tells CE.

She adds that they usually look good all the time, dress well and stand out in the crowd. “Individuals with strong traits are driven by sensory gratification and seek pleasure. They may at times find themselves feeling very lonely as others may not be able to match,” Baijesh says that people with HPD fear rejection and adds, “They are extremely sensitive to criticism and people’s disapproval. They constantly seek people’s attention, have trouble maintaining relationships and might come across as being shallow and superficial in their emotions. They tend to be influenced easily by people around them.”

Ruhi says that HPD may be genetic but also due to biological changes, “or even just a method to cope with significant distress that has emerged in one’s surroundings. This style makes them feel protected and loved.”HPD has no specific triggers as it’s just a pattern that essentially surfaces in most situations.

Ruhi says that histrionics may be really happy with themselves and the love they receive. She, however, adds, “But they may be unaware of their real emotions or sometimes maybe disheartened by superficial relationships. Therefore, psychoanalysis can prove to be a good mode of treatment to help them become truly aware of their emotions and identity. In more recent times, depending on the mood fluctuations and other conditions that may emerge parallel to it, cognitive behaviour therapy or dialectical behaviour therapy along with pharmacotherapy has also proven to be effective.”

Baijesh seconds Ruhi to add that most people with personality disorders never realise they have a disorder until somebody points it out to them. “Even then many refuse to believe and could worsen their mental health. So care must be taken to ensure the right kind of approach is made to help an individual,” he concludes.

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