13th Jan 2023
Histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder are both ‘cluster B’ types of personality disorder, which are characterized by dramatic, overly emotional, or unpredictable thinking or behavior patterns.
Histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder share several characteristics but also have several key differences.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders  which is used by mental health professionals in the US to diagnose mental health problems, histrionic personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by exaggerated emotions and attention-seeking behavior.
Typically, someone with histrionic personality disorder will:
Typically, someone with narcissistic personality disorder  will:
Histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder have several symptoms in common and may appear similar . These similarities include:
These are characteristics of cluster B personality disorders generally, which also includes borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. Histrionic personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder share some specifics , including:
The differences between the two personality disorders mainly relate to the reasons behind the behaviors displayed.
People with narcissistic personality disorder lack empathy for others in a way that people with histrionic personality disorder don’t.
Both seek attention, but the type of attention differs. People with narcissistic personality disorder tend to think very highly of themselves and feel superior to others. When they seek attention, it is admiration and recognition they are seeking. People with histrionic personality disorder, on the other hand, are more likely to have an attention-seeking desire rooted in low self-esteem. They are therefore looking to others to help boost their self-esteem and are more comfortable with being seen as vulnerable or in a more negative light.
People with histrionic personality disorder are highly emotional, showing their emotions easily and often dramatically. People with narcissistic personality disorder are less emotional and may come across as reserved.
Both are prone to overstating the strength of their personal relationships with others. However, people with narcissistic personality disorder are more likely to exaggerate their relationships to people of status, power, or wealth. People with histrionic personality disorder on the other hand have a keen need to be accepted by others, which can lead them to believe relationships are more intimate than they are.
Personality disorders can have a significant impact on a person’s life and personal relationships. They can cause significant distress but, with treatment, the impact can be lessened. Some people find labels unhelpful and getting a diagnosis of a personality disorder can be especially difficult, but the right diagnosis is often the first step to getting the right treatment.
Narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder can occur together. They can also occur alongside other personality disorder and other mental health conditions. This can make the process of diagnosis more complicated and may affect treatment.
Both narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, which can help the person to explore and understand their emotions and develop different approaches to their reactions and behavior. However, people with narcissistic personality disorder are less likely to seek treatment. When they do, therapy can be especially challenging as it requires a great deal of self-reflection and taking responsibility for oneself, which people with narcissistic personality disorder can struggle with.
Therapy can be delivered on a one-to-one basis, in group settings or involve loved ones.
Medication is not usually used to treat personality disorders and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drugs for use specifically with personality disorders. However, a doctor may prescribe medication for associated symptoms, such as antidepressants to treat depression, which can often co-exist with personality disorders.