Centre of the universe?

Centre of the universe?
In early childhood, all of us long for parental attention and later, for acceptance among peers. As we grow older, we learn to self-regulate these instincts by considering long-term interests, such as the advantages of stable relationships, earning the trust and respect of others. However, there are some who long to be the centre of attention all their life; it turns into an obsession and soon becomes toxic. The condition is called Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD).

People suffering from HPD have unstable emotions and distorted self-image as their self-esteem depends on the approval of others. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and often behave incongruously to steal attention. Histrionic means staged or theatrical behaviours, more common in women; usually evident by adolescence. Men with this disorder dress and behave in a “macho” manner bragging about their “manly” pursuits.

With a self-centric approach, they rarely show concern for or empathise with anyone. Often fake or shallow in their dealings with others, they face difficulty in maintaining relationships. They have a fallacy that relationships are more intimate than they actually are.

Those suffering from HPD can’t delay gratification; they have zero tolerance for constructive criticism and frustration. Easily bored by routine, they skip from one event to another. They are known for taking rash decisions, acting without thinking about repercussions in the heat of the moment. They may threaten to or attempt suicide to draw attention. And they blame failures or disappointments on others, unwillingly to accept responsibility for their mistakes. They don’t develop any emotional regulation and their short-term desire for attention supersedes even commonsense.

Being starved of attention at an early age, they become pouty, arrogant and condescending in their demeanor. They feel uneasy or uncomfortable when others aren’t focused exclusively on them. Feelings of inferiority and loneliness further aggravate the situation.

Like most personality disorders, HPD cannot be ‘cured’ because the person never admits to the need for medical intervention. If one is able to convince them, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy, family therapy, talk therapy and medication may help control the situation, depending on severity of the case.

Dealing with a person suffering from HPD can be exhausting. Your basic job is to recognise their manipulative tactics and focus on not giving in. They are used to taking up extreme measures to get their way, which translates to you being walked over (many times). Do not fall for their threats; they are adept at lying. Don’t take anything they say personally.

The key lies in recognising their manoeuvers, and then working your way around it so that you are least affected. Lastly, try flattering them. It saves the negativity and it gives them the feeling that they have won. You, of course, know the truth.
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