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Licensed Social Worker Explains Histrionic Personality Disorder

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(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

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BELLEFONTE (KDKA) — The defense for Jerry Sandusky could argue that their client suffers from histrionic personality disorder.

Cindy Brumbaugh is a licensed social worker at Actions Counseling in Bellefonte where she has been treating people with histrionic personality disorder for more than a decade.

“It’s a type of personality where the person is very emotional, very attention seeking … pretty much think that the world revolves around them,” she said.

According to the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual which is used by mental health professionals when diagnosing patients, a person has histrionic personality disorder if he or she exhibits five of the following eight characteristics.

  • (Needs to be the) Center of attention
  • (Is) Sexually seductive or provocative
  • (Has) Rapidly changing emotions
  • (Uses) Physical appearance to draw attention to himself
  • (Uses) Speech that is excessively impressionistic
  • Exaggerates emotions
  • (Is) Easily influenced by others
  • (And) Considers relationships to be more than they actually are

“It’s not real common, but it is obviously a disorder that some people do suffer from,” Brumbaugh said. “It’s more common in women than it is in men.”

Specifically, HPD affects four times as many women as men and only 2 percent to 3 percent of the general population is affected.

Still, defense attorneys for Jerry Sandusky have indicated they will put an expert on the stand to say Sandusky has this disorder and it’s a believed a psychologist for the prosecution may have evaluated Sandusky at his home over the weekend in preparation for a rebuttal.

Brumbaugh is anxious to see how it plays out.

“In my opinion, I don’t think it’s something that can be used as a mental health defense,” she said.

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