HomeLatestWhat is Histrionic Personality Disorder? Amber Heard Suffers from HPD

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder? Amber Heard Suffers from HPD

The ongoing legal battle between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has taken a massive twist as Depp’s witness Shannon Curry gave testimony regarding Amber’s mental condition. She appeared on the witness stand don’t the ninth day of Depp’s trial.

Shannon is an expert in intimate partner violence and was called to give evidence in Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit. She testified in the Virginian court that Amber suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). Read on to know about this condition.

What is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

A histrionic personality disorder is also known as a dramatic personality disorder. It is a psychiatric disorder which stems from patterns of exaggerated emotionality and attention-seeking behaviours.

For example, in Amber’s case, Shannon mentioned that she displayed a  “reactive”, and “overly dramatic presentation” and used words like “magical” and “wonderful” to describe events. Heard also flitted between “princess and victim”.

Still confused? Let me simplify it for you. A person suffering from a histrionic personality disorder would seek the approval of others to overcome self-esteem issues. Such a person’s self-esteem does not arise from a true feeling of self-worth.

People suffering from such mental health conditions have an enormous desire to be noticed and often behave dramatically or inappropriately to seek attention. The definition of this condition goes by the literal meaning of the term ‘histrionic’, meaning dramatic.

Origin of HPD

This disorder is equally prevalent in males and females and is evident in adolescence or early adulthood. Now, both learned and inherited factors play a key role in the development of this condition.

Many researchers suggest that a genetic susceptibility for this mental health condition might be inherited. However, a child may be simply repeating learned behaviour. On the other hand, external factors like lack of criticism or punishment as a child, forcing approved behaviour and unpredictable attention lead to confusion in their minds.


People suffering from HPD may be the most intellectual people with good social skills, however, they utilize these skills to manipulate others to cater attention. Other symptoms include:

  • Dress provocatively and/or exhibit inappropriately seductive or flirtatious behaviour
  • Shift emotions rapidly
  • Be uncomfortable if not given attention
  • Act dramatically as if there is a theatre act
  • Exaggerated emotions and expression, but lack of sincerity
  • Too much weight on physical appearance
  • Make Rash decisions
  • Self-centred
  • Fake or shallow in their dealings with others
  • Threaten or attempt suicide to get attention

If you suffer such symptoms, there is a high chance that you may be suffering from Histrionic Personality Disorder. It usually develops about individual temperament and psychological styles and ways people learn to cope with stress while growing up.

The Technical Aspect

If you feel that you fit into the aforementioned symptoms, there is no harm in seeing a doctor, who usually analysis the person for such signs. If physical symptoms are present, a physical exam and lab tests like neuroimaging or blood tests are recommended to root out if there this any physical illness for the said condition.

In case there is no physical reason, the concerned person is referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist or a licensed behavioural health professional who uses designed interviews and assessment tools to evaluate a person for HPD.

For instance, Dr Curry during her testimony stated that “HPD is a need to be the centre of attention, adding that those with the condition will need to make up stories to put themselves at the centre as either the “victim” or “princess”.

“With histrionic personality disorder, that underlying drive is to always be the centre of attention, because if you don’t have that attention on you, it feels similar to borderline personality disorder: You feel pretty empty.” She lined in all the reasons why Amber suffers from the said disorder.”

Psychotherapy is usually the treatment of choice for HPD. This helps an individual uncover the motivations and fears associated with their behaviour and thoughts, and learn to relate to others positively.

This disorder can affect a person’s social, professional or romantic relations along with their reaction to failures. This may also lead to depression. Therefore, awareness is the key. While there is no prevention for this disorder, the right treatment helps people positively utilize their strengths.

Shannon Curry’s Potential Testimony

There is no doubt that Curry’s testimony will provide a massive advantage to Johnny Depp who is already being supported for his honesty about his childhood and his turbulent relationship with Amber Heard.

Curry’s testimony will bolster the Pirates of the Caribbean’s claims against his ex-wife who accused him of physical and sexual abuse and called him a ‘wife beater’ in the 2019 Washington Post op-ed.

However, a more important thing is that mental health awareness is the need of the hour. This article is not just about Depp and Amber. It is an effort to bridge the gap between those who continue to ignore their mental health and the mental health specialists. Visit a doctor if you suffer from any of these signs!

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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