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Difference between Histrionic vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder

February 1, 2024

6 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
Difference between Histrionic vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder


Undoubtedly, a personality disorder is one of the more complex forms of mental illness. Not only is it difficult to figure out if you or someone around has a personality disorder. But it’s even more complex to get diagnosed with the specific subtype of personality disorder. 

A personality disorder is how you think, behave, and react to others around you. Both Histrionic and Narcissistic personality disorders belong to the same subclass of personality disorders. This means that they have similarities in diagnosis. 

Let’s find out more about both histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders and how they are related to each other. 

Define Histrionic vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder

As mentioned above, both histrionic and narcissistic personalities fall under cluster B of personality disorders. This means that while there are certain underlying similarities because of which they are clubbed, they are different personality disorders and require separate diagnoses. 

Ideally, a person with histrionic personality disorder craves attention. They have difficulty in developing a sense of healthy self-worth. They rely on others’ perception, attention, and approval for their perception. Markedly, if they do not receive the said approval, they suffer from emotional ups and downs. 

On the other hand, a person with narcissistic personality disorder has an inflated sense of self. The disorder is based on the Greek mythology of a god named ‘Narcissus.’ He was so attracted and obsessed with his reflection in the water that he drowned in it. In the same way, a person with narcissistic personality disorder is obsessed with his self-image and ego. 

Difference between Histrionic vs Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Even though both personality disorders fall under the same subtype of personality disorder, there are significant differences between them. It is due to these differences that they require their diagnosis. Let’s find out more about the differences between histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. 

Sense of self

Particularly, an individual with a histrionic personality is bound to seek any form of attention from others. They have feelings of inadequacy and a diminished sense of self. To curb these feelings, they seek out any form of social attention as approval. There is a very high tendency to want to fit in with others. 

Unlike a histrionic personality, a person with a narcissistic personality has a very high sense of self. They seek out praise and appreciation for their inflated ego. There is a tendency to see themselves as above or better than everyone else around them. 

Attention Seeking

As discussed above, both disorders seek out some or the other form of attention. However, histrionic personalities will settle for any form of attention or feelings of inclusion. They do not have healthy boundaries and might seek attention even if it is hurtful to them. 

By the same token, a person with a narcissistic personality wants others to see them with the same level of high appreciation that they provide to themselves. They feel that they are better than everyone else and that others should agree with them. They might go to extreme lengths to confirm to their ego that they are better than others.

Similarities of Histrionic vs Narcissistic Personality Disorders

Owing to both personalities being a part of cluster b of personality disorders in DSM 5, they share several characteristics. While cluster b consists of other personality disorders as well, there are some overlapping features between histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders. Below mentioned are the similarities between histrionic personality and narcissistic personality disorders. 

Emotional Instability

Firstly, in both disorders, you have difficulty channeling your emotions. You might have trouble stabilizing your feelings and instead have extreme highs and lows. A person with a histrionic personality has intense reactions at even the slightest chance of not getting attention. They go to extreme lengths to get others’ reactions. 

Alternatively, if you have a narcissistic personality, you cannot receive any form of criticism or even comparison. Any moment where someone else appears to be better than you is difficult to stand. In both these personalities, dramatic and over-the-top behavior is common. 

Unpredictable Behaviour  

On appearance, while it might not be obvious if a person has a certain personality, there are behavior patterns that are obvious in these personalities. Not only are the emotions out of proportion, but there will be sudden, unexplainable shifts in behavior. Since in both personalities, any threat to self leads to heightened emotions, behavior changes frequently. 

Along with unpredictability, those around such personalities will witness erratic behavior. You will have sudden outbursts of fear, jealousy, or rage. In some scenarios, you might witness sudden bouts of happiness followed by sudden bouts of crying over perceived threats to self. 

Interpersonal Relationships

Finally, due to the obsession with self, high need for attention, and erratic emotions, their social life suffers. Being around a person with a personality disorder is tough, but if you are around someone with a histrionic or narcissistic personality, you have to put their ego constantly. 

Evidently, close friends and family members of such personalities will vouch for the insecurity and sensitivity that they have to put up with. You will constantly have to stroke their ego and give attention. Even the slightest signs of independence from them are seen as a deal breaker. 


In conclusion, we learned about the relationship between two specific personality disorders, namely, histrionic and narcissistic. As mentioned above, both disorders have certain similarities that might create difficulty in management. To learn more about counseling and psychotherapy for these disorders, read this article. 

All in the sense of self and attention seeking vary between histrionic and personality disorders. Unstable emotions, unpredictable behavior, and difficulty in relationships are the key similarities between personality disorders. To get assistance and guidance related to personality disorders, reach out to United We Care. 


[1] G. M. Callaghan, C. J. Summers, and M. Weidman, “The Treatment of Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorder Behaviors: A Single-Subject Demonstration of Clinical Improvement Using Functional Analytic Psychotherapy,” Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 321–339, 2003, doi: https://doi.org/10.1023/b:jocp.0000004502.55597.81.

[2] J. H. French and S. Shrestha, “Histrionic Personality Disorder,” Nih.gov, May 15, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542325/

[3] A. Freeman, J. Pretzer, B. Fleming, and K. M. Simon, “Histrionic and Narcissistic Personality Disorders,” Clinical Applications of Cognitive Therapy, pp. 259–286, 2004, doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8905-5_9.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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