The Greek doctors of the fourth century BC recognized symptoms described in the past as Hysteria. It is assumed that the term was coined by the Greek physician Hippocrates from Hystera which is a Greek word meaning womb. Symptoms of hysteria were thought to be due to wandering of the womb in the body of women. Most theories about hysteria identified this as a condition seen only in women though this is not always true.
The dramatic personality type is a separate character type which is distinct from Hysteria as an illness, a term which is now obsolete. Remnant of the term is still included in psychiatric formal classifications DSM-IV and ICD-10 as the Histrionic Personality Disorder.
The main characteristic of this personality type is that the individual is dramatic in her emotions, her actions and her thoughts about herself and about life. The emotions are excessive and displayed in an exaggerated manner. Excessive uncontrolled tears and anger, too much happiness or sadness and overt seductiveness are often seen. Emotions are rapidly shifting although they are beneficial and not lying.
The dramatic person likes to be the center of attention and she is usually dressed and talks in a seductive and attractive way. Such persons are usually sociable and skilful in giving a good impression at first meeting. When they are involved in an intimate relationship, they romanticise or sexualise things more than they really are. In their relationships they alternate between idealization and devaluation of people they are close to and their romantic attachment does not stand the test of time.
The dramatic or Histrionic person does not see life situations realistically. They dramatise and exaggerate their difficulties and blame others for their failures and suffering. They see themselves as victims of the misdeeds and evil intent of others. They are sensitive to the slightest sign of criticism or refusal and react angrily to an unintentional negative remark or ignoring their presence.
With a Histrionic personality, the individual is easily bored and seeks excitement and novelty. This make her or him successful in making social relationships quite easily. Such relationships start quit strong and intimate then they flatter with the passage of time or end in some dramatic way. Because of the low-level of tolerance of frustration, histrionic persons do not keep one job for a long time and they move from one career or employer to another repeatedly.
The search for excitation may make some people with Histrionic personality choose a career in drama, media or modeling. They tend to take risks or put themselves in risky and dangerous situations due to rushing into uncalculated decision without regard to the consequences.
The Histrionic dramatic person is a proud person who does not accept change easily in her or his behavior. They are skilful in manipulating others emotionally and they may use somatic and physical symptoms as means of further manipulation to make others feel sympathy, guilt or helplessness in the face of their desires. They seek treatment for many physical illnesses which have no organic basis.
The Histrionic person does suffer from anxiety, depression and other psychological and physical symptoms, however, these symptoms are usually due to the excessive and exaggerated emotions and are usually beneficial and transient. Such persons may even threaten suicide or make an attempt which usually fails as it is not a genuine wish to die. Sometimes, the attempts at self-harm may be miscalculated and lead to unexpected harm.