What Is an Attention-Seeking Personality?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 14 December 2018
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An attention-seeking personality is characterized by an individual behaving in such a way as to always attract attention to himself or herself. This can take place in a number of different ways; certain people may be very dramatic, emotional, or sexually provocative, while others may play the role of the victim and attempt to attract attention through sympathy. Sometimes at attention-seeking personality is associated with a disorder known as histrionic personality disorder (HPD), though it is not possible to diagnose this disorder until an individual is at least eighteen years of age. In addition, not everyone with this personality type has a mental disorder.

In general, people who possess an attention-seeking personality need more validation from others than the average person does. They may seek any type of feedback from other people, whether it is positive or negative, simply to validate their existence. Often, this personality type is associated with low self-esteem or low levels of confidence as well, even if it seems that the person is very confident. It is difficult for researchers to tell whether an individual is born with an attention-seeking personality, or if it evolves over time following certain life experiences.


Various ways exist, in which an attention-seeking personality may manifest. One common way is for a person to regularly have emotional, dramatic responses to every day events, or to retell stories in an exaggerated manner to make himself or herself the center of attention. Sexually provocative behavior is relatively common as well; a person may flirt inappropriately or dress a certain way in order to attract attention. Others may take a different tactic to attract attention, and play the victim; this can range from playing up when they are sick or injured, to retelling stories of past abuse, to frequently discussing the ways they feel that they are "wronged" in life.

These are just a few of the ways in which a person with an attention-seeking personality may display it. Often, these people are quite manipulative and have trouble maintaining relationships. If these actions become very severe, it may be diagnosed by a psychologist as histrionic personality disorder. Typically, the only treatment for this disorder is therapy, in an attempt to teach the individual better ways to express him or herself, to interact with others, and to increase their feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. It can be difficult, however, because people with this disorder often believe that they do not need therapy.


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Post 1

I'm confused. From what I've read about several disorders, retelling of past abuses is also considered a way to deal with the abuse? It seems to me that if a person has one disorder, dealing with it creates another. I'm beginning to lose faith in psychology.

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