When I first encountered her, I thought she was pretty neat. Not how my perception of how a person with an adult son should behave, but different strokes for different folks. And I can withstand a surprising amount of triviality – or so I thought until I really got to know the HPD on an interpersonal level.
For a while, I guess I knew something was wrong, but I thought: “she’s just a shallow, self-absorbed person.” No one in her family seems to think that there’s anything really wrong here by way of a diagnosable condition and certainly when you’ve been on the inside for so long the things that others may see as symptoms, you may view as quirks or ingrained traits. Since I moved in with her, through necessity, I started having to deal with her on a daily basis as opposed to brief interactions in the past. Suddenly, I was starting to see things I hadn’t before and in turn my feathers were getting ruffled where they otherwise had been neatly preened and accounted for. I do a lot of self-analysis and its impossible to self-assess without taking personal relationships into account. More and more I was feeling unhappy and tense. Most of all I was feeling drained and irritated. When I connected the dots I found most of these negative, unwanted feelings found an origin in her. So I did some research. And my research found she hit a lot of marks on the Histrionic Personality Disorder checklist. I’m no psychologist, however… most HPDs do not believe they have a problem, and approaching them with anything other than perfection is an accusation on your part and will not be tolerated.
Its one thing to be an emotional person but quite another to harbor a callous unconcern for the rights, validations, emotions, and comfortableness of others. I found her feelings tended to be the top priority whether she hurt someone else or not, even a blood relative. Her ability to use the tools of denial and dissociation to block unwanted negative feelings was also truly impressive. Rather than attempt to make amends and apologize for any hurt she may cause, she’ll hold a grudge for days, weeks even, at any perceived slight – imaginary or otherwise.
I also started noticing that she was extremely self-indulgent when interacting with others – a spectacle often bizarre to behold … she’ll discuss things with you and the conversation may be interesting; afterwards you realize that she’s never really inquired much about you or what’s happening in your life, but she’ll talk of herself for hours in amazing detail if you let her. I started getting the impression that she thinks all men want her – if we went out together to the store or what have you, male attention, even just pleasantries from a cashier, would be interpreted as flirtatious in nature and only directed at her, even if I was standing right next to her and being given the same salutations.
And the lying! HPDs are pathological liars – they may lie for no reason or they may lie to hide a horrible truth that would reveal some kind of personal defection. Sometimes, they lie out of pure impulse alone, which unfortunately accompanies histrionic personality disorder. Its very hard to say as HPDs are usually so involved with themselves they forget half the things they’ve said or done. You don’t have a sincere and open dialogue with an HPD. It’s always mixed with half-truths or outright lies.
This all is not to say I’m attempting to demonize what very well could be a personality disorder that she cannot control… but eventually all of this demand for attention started getting tiresome. When I finally realized that I was doing all of the work trying to maintain some sort of a relationship and getting nothing back, it resulted in me being resentful, which turned into me having to totally ignore her on occasion to maintain my own sanity. I don’t think that’s a healthy response, and I don’t recommend it, but I have felt a little better knowing that I did once try hard.
Think about it… Do you have or have you had a (suspected or otherwise) relationship with a person afflicted with Histrionic Personality Disorder? What unique experiences have you encountered and how have you dealt with them?