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Mental Disorders

Ask Dr. SchwartzAsk Dr. Schwartz:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Help with a Histrionic Friend

Fri, Sep 3rd 2010

I wrote recently about a person that my roommates and I are concerned about. She has attached herself to my roommates and continues to exhibit "creepy" behavior. After some research in the matter, all signs point to Histrionic Personality Disorder (amongst other possible issues).

My roommates have been happily married for 12 years. When she first came around a year ago, it was because she was a childhood friend of the husband. She slipped in under the guise of a timid, wounded, and reserved "friend" and slowly, over the last 6 to 8 months, the strange behavior presented. Stalking, attention seeking, open actions that show romantic and intimate interest in the husband, embellished gestures and actions, self centered actions, nervous and fidgety when she's not being paid attention to, and is constantly worried that everyone's mad at her for imagined reasons.  She lies to better her character and station in life, and so on.

She also rejects anyone who shows any romantic interest in her. It seems she is only interested in the husband. She has invested so much emotional attachment into him that she has even asked to move into our house several times. She has literally driven half an hour out of her way to "visit."

She even plans to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of their "friendship" and even suggested sharing a bed at a hotel (which was quickly rejected by my roommates). My roommates also have two boys (ages 7 and 10) and a baby on the way. What concerns me about this is their histrionic friend can't have children for medical reasons and extremely desires to be a mother.

At times she exhibits normal, rational thought to the new child, and other times, there is blatant resentment and other obvious mixed feelings. She refers to herself as "Aunt" and tries to get the boys to call her that as well.

We are now at a point where we don't know how to get her to stand down safely. We feel she is at a level where she could hurt herself or others if she is rejected. Her family has told her she needed mental help in the past, as well as previous friends, but she lashes out at them and stands fast that they are the ones with problems, then quickly cuts all ties.

So my question is, do we need to confront her with details on HPD, or do we ignore her and deny her attention seeking behavior? What is the safest route to handle someone like this?

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