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Histrionic Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism: Key Differences

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

Did you know that about 9.1% of the U.S. population has a personality disorder? Many fall under Cluster B disorders. It’s important to see how Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders differ. They impact behaviors and relationships in unique ways.

HPD and NPD are both part of Cluster B disorders. 

This group includes people with emotional and erratic behaviors. However, the motivations and behavior in these disorders are quite different. HPD involves seeking attention for approval and visibility, often with dramatic emotions and impulsive behavior.

In contrast, NPD is about seeking admiration, recognition, and personal gain. Those with NPD feel they’re superior and very important.

Understanding the differences between histrionic personality disorder and narcissism is key. It shows us how these disorders change how people act around others, see themselves, and express their emotions.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. population has a significant element of diagnosable personality disorders, with a notable percentage falling under Cluster B.
  • HPD and NPD involve attention-seeking behaviors but for different reasons—HPD for approval and want to be the center of attention, and NPD for admiration and recognition.
  • People with HPD often display dramatic and expressive emotions.
  • NPD is characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration.
  • Understanding the distinctions between HPD and NPD can improve awareness and foster more effective interpersonal interactions.

Overview of Cluster B Personality Disorders

Cluster B personality disorders involve emotional and dramatic behavior. They also include erratic thoughts and behaviors. This cluster has Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).

People with these disorders show actions that are hard to predict. They also think in ways that make it tough to live and work with others. Those with these conditions might seek a lot of attention or try to control others, which could harm their relationships.

HPD and NPD stand out in this cluster because they share some features. HPD includes showing lots of emotions and needing lots of approval. NPD is about feeling very important and needing others to always cheer you on. Both can make relationships complicated, but they do so in different ways.

BPD is known for big emotional ups and downs, a deep fear of being left, and doing things without really thinking ahead. This can lead to shaky relationships and doing things that can hurt yourself. ASPD is more about not following rules or caring for other people’s rights. This can lead to breaking the law or acting in a way that’s harmful.

Cultural beliefs impact these disorders too. How people are supposed to act or express their emotions can make these disorders better or worse. This means how much someone struggles or how they do in daily life can change because of where and how they live.

Histrionic Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism

Personality DisorderKey CharacteristicsCommon Behaviors
Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD)Excessive emotionality and attention-seekingTheatrical displays, provocative actions
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)Grandiosity, need for admirationSuperiority complex, lack of empathy
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)Emotional instability, fear of abandonmentImpulsivity, intense relationships
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)Disregard for others’ rights, impulsivityCriminal acts, aggression

It’s key to understand these disorders for a few reasons. First, it helps us be more caring to those going through these issues. Second, knowing the early signs could lead to getting help sooner. This could really change someone’s life for the better.

Symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder

It’s important to know the symptoms of histrionic personality disorder (HPD). This helps us tell it apart from other disorders, like narcissism. HPD shows up with lots of emotion and drama. It often messes with how people get along and do their daily stuff.

Emotional and Dramatic Behavior

People with HPD show many emotional and dramatic expressions.

They may use big gestures or have big emotional reactions, which might feel too much for the situation. These expressions often point to a need for constant attention and excitement in their lives.

Attention-Seeking Actions

Wanting others’ attention is a big part of HPD. This can involve looking a certain way to draw others in or acting in ways that stand out. These actions show a deep need to be seen and accepted by others.

This type of attention-seeking behavior is different from narcissism, where the focus is often on oneself being very important.

Histrionic Personality Disorder vs. Narcissism

Dependency in Relationships

Those with HPD often get into relationships that depend a lot on one another. They look for a lot of support and praise from their partners. They might really fear being turned down or not seen as valuable.

Needing others for their own self-esteem is a big clue that it might be HPD, not narcissism.

AspectHistrionic Personality DisorderNarcissistic Personality Disorder
Emotional and Dramatic ExpressionsHighly theatrical and exaggeratedMay appear grandiose and self-important
Attention-Seeking BehaviorsFocus on physical appearance and emotionsSeek admiration and validation
Dependency in RelationshipsIntense need for approval and reassuranceLacks genuine empathy, uses relationships for self-benefit

Traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Understanding narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is key. It’s different from other disorders. It’s defined by feeling very important but not caring about others.

There’s also a strong desire for attention. These traits make NPD unique compared to disorders like histrionic personality disorder.

traits of narcissistic personality disorder

Inflated Sense of Self-Importance

People with NPD think very highly of themselves. They believe they are better than others. They don’t just seek the approval of others; they want to be seen as superior. This sets them apart from those with HPD. For narcissists, their status is what matters most.

Lack of Empathy

Narcissists have trouble understanding how others feel. This leads to problems in relationships. Without empathy, they can seem cold. In this way, NPD differs from HPD or standard narcissism, where caring for others may be a bit easier.

Attention and Admiration Seeking

Those with NPD have a constant need for admiration. It helps them maintain a high opinion of themselves. This need isn’t just for attention like in HPD. For NPD, it’s about maintaining their self-image through others’ praise.

Key Differences: Histrionic Personality Disorder vs Narcissism

Both histrionic personality disorder (HPD) and narcissism (NPD) are part of Cluster B personality disorders. But, they have unique differences in how they affect behavior.

HPD pushes people to draw attention with emotional outbursts. On the other hand, NPD makes people want admiration, focusing on external approval for their self-worth. HPD’s emotions are often loud and theatrical, while NPD’s emotions are more about showing off.

One key difference is empathy. HPD might act like they care to get noticed, but people with NPD often lack true empathy. They struggle to understand or care about others’ feelings. Histrionic narcissists often feel the need to be the focal point in any situation. NPD, however, leads to a feeling of being better than everyone else and deserving special treatment.

HPD and NPD also show differences based on gender. More women often get diagnosed with HPD. This might be because society expects them to be more emotionally expressive.

NPD, on the other hand, is diagnosed more in men. This could be because society values traits like self-importance and dominant behavior in males.

AspectHistrionic Personality DisorderNarcissistic Personality Disorder
Attention-SeekingDramatic and emotional displays to gain attentionSeeks admiration and validation to support self-esteem
Emotional ExpressionOvert, exaggerated, and theatricalTied to maintaining superior status, less expressive
EmpathyMay show fleeting empathy for attentionGenerally lacks genuine empathy
Self-PerceptionNeeds to be the centerGrandiose self-image and sense of entitlement
Prevalence by GenderMore common in femalesMore common in males

Treatment Options for HPD and NPD

It’s important to know the treatment options for HPD and NPD to help deal with these complex disorders. The main treatments are talking therapy and sometimes medicine. This mixed approach is great for managing symptoms of personality disorders, boosting daily life, and enhancing relationships.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy are very helpful. They help people better understand their thoughts and actions, which leads to healthier feelings and reactions in social settings.

Medicine is also important. Doctors might give out antidepressants and mood drugs to deal with issues like sadness and worry.

Though pills can’t cure these disorders, they help ease the worst symptoms. This makes therapy even more useful.

Creating a plan with mental health experts is crucial for managing symptoms of personality disorders.

Ongoing support from professionals is vital. It ensures that the treatment options for HPD and NPD change as the person’s situation and needs change.

Therapy TypeBenefits
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)Helps in identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)Focuses on emotion regulation and building interpersonal skills.
Psychodynamic TherapyExplores unconscious processes influencing behavior and thought.
PsychopharmacologyAntidepressants and mood stabilizers help in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Seeking Support for HPD and NPD

It can be hard to spot Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). But, it’s vital to take the first step to get support. If you think you or someone you know struggles with these, talking to a mental health pro can really help.

A psychiatrist or a therapist who knows about personality disorders is a good start. They can evaluate you properly, which helps you understand your needs and plan how to treat them.

At first, finding mental health help might sound tough. But, there are several places you can turn to. Look for local mental health clinics, private practices, or big groups like the American Psychological Association.

They have lists of pros who can guide you. Don’t forget about support groups, either. 

They offer community and listen to others who go through similar stuff. It’s important to start early, and it’s always a good time to begin. You might try different kinds of therapy, like CBT or DBT, to meet your needs.

Knowing that you need help with issues like HPD or NPD can be tough. But trying to fix things isn’t a sign of being weak. It’s a step towards getting better. Sticking with treatment and using the mental health help that’s out there can bring big changes.

Daily life and how you connect with others can improve. You’re not in this alone; experts and community groups are ready to support you at every step.


What are the main differences between Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) differ in their focus. HPD people want others to see their emotions and praise them. NPD focuses on feeling superior, needing admiration. They often lack empathy.

What are Cluster B personality disorders?

The American Psychiatric Association groups personality disorders into three clusters. Cluster B includes HPD, NPD, Borderline, and Antisocial Personality Disorders. These involve dramatic, emotional, and unpredictable behaviors.

What are the hallmark symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder?

People with HPD have a pattern of extreme emotionality and seek the spotlight. They may act in ways that grab attention. This can include dramatic behavior and dressing to stand out.

What are the principal traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

NPD is marked by self-importance, a desire for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Those with NPD feel they are better than others and have an inflated sense of self-worth. They find it hard to understand and share others’ feelings, which makes having close relationships challenging.

How does HPD differ from NPD in terms of attention-seeking and validation?

HPD and NPD do both seek attention, but how they do it is different. HPD uses drama and emotion to get noticed, while NPD uses a sense of superiority to be admired. NPD may not care about others’ feelings in the process.

What treatment options are available for HPD and NPD?

HPD and NPD can be treated with therapy like CBT, DBT, and medication. The aim is to help manage symptoms and lead a better life. Talk therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and medication can help with daily life and interpersonal relationships.

How can I find support if I think I have HPD or NPD?

If you suspect HPD or NPD, start by seeing a mental health professional. They can help with a diagnosis and treatment options. Getting help early and sticking with treatment is key for improvement.

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