62: Drama

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
62: Drama


Once a drama queen, always a drama queen?

Show notes and links:
Histrionic Personality Disorder (Psychology Today)
Histrionic Personality Disorder (Out of the Fog)
Dangerous Liaisons (Scientific American)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (Mayo Clinic)
Borderline Personality Disorder (National Institutes of Mental Health)

Full episode text

Ever been called a drama queen? It’s one of those phrases that usually seems to come out as a curse, yet is very complicated.

After all, “drama queen” can mean many things. In some circumstances, someone can be called a drama queen for simply engaging in self-advocacy, or standing up to microaggressions. Sometimes, drama queen is the curse meant to devalue and dismiss legitimate concerns.

When it goes beyond self-advocacy and a strategic creation of scene, then this drama queen question becomes much more intense. While “drama queen” is not an official medical diagnosis, there are a number of DSM 5 listed disorders that mimic or include what is colloquially referred to as being a drama queen, a phrase that in many ways could possibly be stigmatizing in a culture that already heavily stigmatizes mental illness.

For example there’s histrionic personality disorder, a diagnosis that some estimates put as high as 2 percent of the population, and mostly female. This disorder is characterized by constant attention-seeking, emotional overreaction, and suggestibility, along with a tendency to over-dramatize many situations. There’s also narcissistic personality disorder, mostly diagnosed in men, and characterized by an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle criticism, and a sense of entitlement. On an even more extreme end, there’s borderline personality disorder, which made its first appearance in the DSM 5, and is often what’s known as “co-occurring” with other disorders, characterized by brief psychotic episodes, extreme difficulty regulating emotions, and more.

One shared characteristic of all three of these disorders is that the best treatments are mostly talk therapy, behavioral therapy, and general self-awareness. Complicating the situation is the fact that, much like external chemical dependencies, the addiction to adrenaline of drama and attention is just as real. And unless someone acknowledges that they have the problem, dedicate themselves to treatment, and make an effort to be consistently and constantly self-aware, then true change may not be likely.