When I first met Sonia, she struck me as the most extroverted and welcoming person in the office. She knew every person in the company, chatted with everyone and seemed to have a special type of relationship with most of our co-workers.
She soon complemented my skills and job experience in private. She also appointed herself as the unofficial leader of our small team. She enjoyed leading our meetings and having people report to her. However, she was not very interested in who was doing what or actual productivity.
Sonia spent most of her day in meeting rooms or hanging out in the breakroom. She also put a lot of effort into organizing get-togethers and parties outside of work.
After a couple of months, I grew tired of Sonia’s intense nature. Every little work issue was blown out of proportion, every matter was about her. I also started noticing how she insisted male co-workers join for after-work drinks while most female colleagues were deliberately left out of her plans.
It was only during our first meeting with some senior managers that I observed she was flirtatious in professional settings too. It took me some time to realize that Sonia was not trying to get ahead, she just yearned for the attention.
In reality, Sonia was quite a lonely person. She was about to turn forty and had lived in the same city for years, yet -who she considered- her closest friends, were people she had only recently met.
She had strong opinions about everyone. People Sonia liked were usually described as 'the most loyal, good-hearted, amazing friend’ she could ask for. People she didn’t like -or paid her little attention- were considered ‘toxic, double-faced or insincere’.
After a series of organizational changes, we were left under the supervision of a boss she could not charm. He was more experienced and demanding than previous bosses. He also refused her advances quite clearly.
Sonia told everyone she was being bullied and decided to hand in her resignation. She claimed she already had several job offers lined up. The perks of having such good friends in the industry, she said.
Three months into unemployment she went to see a therapist who eventually diagnosed her with histrionic personality disorder.
Prevalence in the general population: >1%–2.0% *
Comorbid with: Narcissistic (13.2%), Dependent (9.5%), Schizotypal (9.4%) *
No gender differences
*Sources: Lenzenweger et al. (2007)
Torgersen, Kringlen, and Cramer (2001)
Zimmerman, M., Rothschild, L., & Chelminski, I. (2005)