Conflicts and disappointments are natural side effects of the human experience, but for a certain personality type known as a "drama queen," life's little setbacks can trigger explosive emotional outbursts and other irrational behaviors. The term &mdahs; or less frequently, "drama king" — is usually applied to someone with a demanding or overbearing personality who tends to overreact to seemingly minor incidents. A drama queen often views the world in absolutes, and only has two settings on her emotional control button: zero and ten. Psychologists might describe such a person as a neurotic personality with histrionic tendencies, meaning that he or she tends to become needlessly dramatic whenever order is disrupted.
In literature, the character Scarlett O'Hara from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind would be considered a drama queen by today's standards. This type of person is notoriously self-centered and self-absorbed, often viewing friends and relatives as lesser beings assigned to take care of her personal needs. Her worst enemy is solitude, so she tends to be very outgoing and sociable, although many of her friendships tend to remain at surface level. Others who have experienced the drama queen's sudden outbursts in the past may have a feeling of walking on egg shells around her, not wanting to be the person who delivers upsetting news or offends her in any way.
A drama queen could also be described as a diva, a neurotic and self-centered perfectionist prone to sudden demands and outbursts. A diva is also usually considered to be exceptionally talented, however, which is not always the case with a drama queen. She may be jealous or envious of others, which could make any personal failings even more painful and trigger another round of emotional outbursts or irrational thoughts of revenge. In her world, people can be either with her or against her; there are no stages in between.
Many parents find themselves in the unenviable position of dealing with a young drama queen. This can be a difficult situation for other siblings, since their own needs may take a back seat to those of the more demanding child. Some parents choose to acquiesce to the child rather than provoke the inevitable tantrum or histrionic outburst. By confronting the selfish behavior directly, however, parents can demonstrate that a child's demanding or manipulative personality is not enough to force them into doing anything. A young drama queen's worst fear is to be ignored or become powerless over others.
In adult life, being considered a drama queen or a drama king is generally not a good thing. Co-workers or superiors may fear confronting such a person at the workplace, since she usually does not take personal criticism very well. She may find herself out of the social or political loop at work, since her tendency to overreact or lash out at others irrationally makes it difficult for others to trust her with sensitive information.
While a drama queen might find her forceful personality and manipulation skills useful in a few situations, her inability to control her emotions and to form meaningful relationships could keep her socially isolated. Someone who acts out in this manner may have a true histrionic personality disorder and should consider seeking the advice of trained mental health professionals.