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Attention-seeking personality disorders

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Attention-seeking personality disorders

Postby 411needed » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:54 am

Here is a pretty good article:


Drama queens, saviours, rescuers, feigners and attention-seekers
Attention-seeking personality disorders,
victim syndrome, insecurity and centre of attention behaviour
On this page
The need for attention | Attention seeking methods
Attention seeking and narcissism

The need for attention

Human beings are social creatures and need social interaction, feedback, and validation of their worth. The emotionally mature person doesn't need to go hunting for these; they gain it naturally from their daily life, especially from their work and from stable relationships. Daniel Goleman calls emotional maturity emotional intelligence, or EQ; he believes, and I agree, that EQ is a much better indicator of a person's character and value than intelligence quotient, or IQ.

The emotionally immature person, however, has low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence and consequently feels insecure; to counter these feelings of insecurity they will spend a large proportion of their lives creating situations in which they become the centre of attention. It may be that the need for attention is inversely proportional to emotional maturity, therefore anyone indulging in attention-seeking behaviours is telling you how emotionally immature they are.

Attention-seeking behaviour is surprisingly common. Being the centre of attention alleviates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy but the relief is temporary as the underlying problem remains unaddressed: low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and consequent low levels of self-worth and self-love.

Insecure and emotionally immature people often exhibit bullying behaviours, especially manipulation and deception. These are necessary in order to obtain attention which would not otherwise be forthcoming. Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will exhibit temper tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid exposure of their true nature and to evade accountability and sanction. This page lists some of the most common tactics bullies and manipulators employ to gain attention for themselves. An attention-seeker may exhibit several of the methods listed below.

Attention seeking methods

Attention-seeking is particularly noticeable with females so I've used the pronoun "she". Males also exhibit attention-seeking behaviour.

Attention seekers commonly exploit the suffering of others to gain attention for themselves. Or they may exploit their own suffering, or alleged suffering. In extreme forms, such as in Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, the attention-seeker will deliberately cause suffering to others as a means of gaining attention.

The sufferer: this might include feigning or exaggerating illness, playing on an injury, or perhaps causing or inviting injury, in extreme cases going as far as losing a limb. Severe cases may meet the diagnostic criteria for Munchausen Syndrome (also know as Factitious Disorder). The illness or injury becomes a vehicle for gaining sympathy and thus attention. The attention-seeker excels in manipulating people through their emotions, especially that of guilt. It's very difficult not to feel sorry for someone who relates a plausible tale of suffering in a sob story or "poor me" drama.

The saviour: in attention-seeking personality disorders like Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP, also known as Factitious Disorder By Proxy) the person, usually female, creates opportunities to be centre of attention by intentionally causing harm to others and then being their saviour, by saving their life, and by being such a caring, compassionate person. Few people realise the injury was deliberate. The MSBP mother or nurse may kill several babies before suspicions are aroused. When not in saviour mode, the saviour may be resentful, perhaps even contemptuous, of the person or persons she is saving.

The rescuer: particularly common in family situations, she's the one who will dash in and "rescue" people whenever the moment is opportune - to herself, that is. She then gains gratification from basking in the glory of her humanitarian actions. She will prey on any person suffering misfortune, infirmity, illness, injury, or anyone who has a vulnerability. The act of rescue and thus the opportunities for gaining attention can be enhanced if others are excluded from the act of rescue; this helps create a dependency relationship between the rescuer and rescued which can be exploited for further acts of rescue (and attention) later. When not in rescue mode, the rescuer may be resentful, perhaps even contemptuous, of the person she is rescuing.

The organiser: she may present herself as the one in charge, the one organising everything, the one who is reliable and dependable, the one people can always turn to. However, the objective is not to help people (this is only a means to an end) but to always be the centre of attention.

The manipulator: she may exploit family relationships, manipulating others with guilt and distorting perceptions; although she may not harm people physically, she causes everyone to suffer emotional injury. Vulnerable family members are favourite targets. A common attention-seeking ploy is to claim she is being persecuted, victimised, excluded, isolated or ignored by another family member or group, perhaps insisting she is the target of a campaign of exclusion or harassment.

The mind-poisoner: adept at poisoning peoples' minds by manipulating their perceptions of others, especially against the current target.

The drama queen: every incident or opportunity, no matter how insignificant, is exploited, exaggerated and if necessary distorted to become an event of dramatic proportions. Everything is elevated to crisis proportions. Histrionics may be present where the person feels she is not the centre of attention but should be. Inappropriate flirtatious behaviour may also be present.

The busy bee: this individual is the busiest person in the world if her constant retelling of her life is to be believed. Everyday events which are regarded as normal by normal people take on epic proportions as everyone is invited to simultaneously admire and commiserate with this oh-so-busy person who never has a moment to herself, never has time to sit down, etc. She's never too busy, though, to tell you how busy she is.

The feigner: when called to account and outwitted, the person instinctively uses the denial - counterattack - feigning victimhood strategy to manipulate everyone present, especially bystanders and those in authority. The most effective method of feigning victimhood is to burst into tears, for most people's instinct is to feel sorry for them, to put their arm round them or offer them a tissue. There's little more plausible than real tears, although as actresses know, it's possible to turn these on at will. Feigners are adept at using crocodile tears. From years of practice, attention-seekers often give an Oscar-winning performance in this respect. Feigning victimhood is a favourite tactic of bullies and harassers to evade accountability and sanction. When accused of bullying and harassment, the person immediately turns on the water works and claims they are the one being bullied or harassed - even though there's been no prior mention of being bullied or harassed. It's the fact that this claim appears only after and in response to having been called to account that is revealing. Mature adults do not burst into tears when held accountable for their actions.

The false confessor: this person confesses to crimes they haven't committed in order to gain attention from the police and the media. In some cases people have confessed to being serial killers, even though they cannot provide any substantive evidence of their crimes. Often they will confess to crimes which have just been reported in the media. Some individuals are know to the police as serial confessors. The false confessor is different from a person who make a false confession and admits to a crime of which they are accused because of emotional pressure and inappropriate interrogation tactics.

The abused: a person claims they are the victim of abuse, sexual abuse, rape etc as a way of gaining attention for themselves. Crimes like abuse and rape are difficult to prove at the best of times and their incidence is so common that it is easy to make a plausible claim as a way of gaining attention.

The online victim: this person uses Internet chat rooms and forums to allege that they've been the victim of rape, violence, harassment, abuse etc. The alleged crime is never reported to the authorities, for obvious reasons. The facelessness and anonymity of the Internet suits this type of attention seeker. [More]

The victim: she may intentionally create acts of harassment against herself, eg send herself hate mail or damage her own possessions in an attempt to incriminate a fellow employee, a family member, neighbour, etc. Scheming, cunning, devious, deceptive and manipulative, she will identify her "harasser" and produce circumstantial evidence in support of her claim. She will revel in the attention she gains and use her glib charm to plausibly dismiss any suggestion that she herself may be responsible. However, a background check may reveal that this is not the first time she has had this happen to her.
Why did I never walk away
Why I played myself this way
Now I see
Testing me, pushes me away
Linkin Park "Pushing Me Away"
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Postby Myuki » Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:50 am

great article :D
"I would be inclined to thinking outside of the box, if I was convinced there was anything going on inside of it..."
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Postby MyWave » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:22 am

This is a great piece 411....shows the degree to which the disturbed will go....doesn't matter who they hurt, trample, or destroy...it is all about supply to them

zombies living a wasted life
You feed the fire that burned us all
When you lied
To feel the pain that spurs you on
Black inside
~ Alice in Chains
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Re: Attention-seeking personality disorders

Postby sadmadandhurt » Thu Jan 07, 2010 10:07 am

This is a great 'compendium' of attention-seeking PD's, and reading through it convinces me even more that my ex-HPD husband truly is HPD. While not deploying all of the attention seeking strategies listed, he does play suffere, rescuer, drama queen, and feigner very very well.

Question - how much of HPD is related to child-hood experiences, and how much of it is genetic? My ex-HPD was one of 10 children, and never ever got enough attention from his mother, and hardly any attention at all from his father... All of his siblings have 'issues' one way or another, and they all have incontrollable tempers.
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Re: Attention-seeking personality disorders

Postby Bewildered » Thu Jan 07, 2010 3:58 pm

Insightful article, thanks! I saw a lot of these in my ex: sufferer, rescuer/organiser, manipulator, mind-poisoner, drama queen, busy bee, and feigner.

Question though, can the rescuer/organiser be one who works with people in need (e.g., hospital) and then use that to a manipulative advantage of seeking and obtaining that necessary attention and self-validation from others about how 'great' they are?
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Re: Attention-seeking personality disorders

Postby sadmadandhurt » Thu Jan 07, 2010 4:43 pm

Dear Bewildered

I sincerely hope that social workers, nurses, doctors, advice workers, and others in the care providing profession are not histrionic!!! Surely you need empathy to do these jobs successfully?

I think my ex-HPD husband's personality disorder definitely stems from a lack of maternal and paternal bonding during his early childhood years. He must have learned very early on that the only way he to get positive attention was by being a 'rescuer' , feigner and/or a 'drama queen'. His need for attention is so great it overwhelms everything else he does. I never knew him to really apologise for anything, and have come to realise that he took no time to try to understand other people's feelings and therefore had no empathy - in short he is very very very shallow.
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Re: Attention-seeking personality disorders

Postby AnDread » Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:02 am

Wow, this article is some food for thought! My possible HPD/NPD ex-friend uses almost all of these tactics. The only ones I haven't noticed her using are "the saviour" (I don't think she has intentionally physically hurt anyone, though she does exaggerate her children's and husband's many supposed physical and mental problems) and "the false confessor" (she'll confess to nothing -- that would be admitting responsibility).

Where was this article originally published?
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