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Attention Seeking Behavior(s)🤳🏽

Attention Seeking Behavior(s)🤳🏽

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This writer has a profound fascination with attention-seeking behavior(s). Also, profoundly astute at capturing the attention of peers, family, and friends, this writer is also no stranger to these histrionic red flags into a possible personality disorder.

Let us be completely honest, some of know, without too much consideration and thought, exactly how to gain our peers, friends, and family’s attention. Conversely, some of us could not get the attention they were seeking if their life depended on it. The level and intensity of attention-seeking behavior begin and ends with the ability, tenacity, and creativity of the person seeking attention. Attention seeking behaviors can be attributed to various mental health diagnoses. To correctly identify which diagnosis, the clinician will need to evaluate the behavior very carefully closed.

For most personality disorders, including, but not limited to Narcissistic Personality disorder, Histrionic, and Borderline, the clinician will need to evaluate the intentions or motives of the person seeking attention. Motives, intentions, and the general goals of anyone seeking attention should be the primary indicators that someone is seeking attention is trying to make up for, or satisfy a character-logical deficit. I am suggesting that if the motive is clear, the intention purposeful, and the aim is to gain others’ attention. Then, satisfy an individual’s thirst and make up for their shorting comings or lack of insight into an interpersonal situation gone awry then beware. 

In terms of NPD, the reason or rationale for seeking attention is probably, first and foremost, to satisfy a personal deficit in self-worth or self-esteem. For people carrying a diagnosis of Histrionic personality disorder, the aim is creating hysteria to mask whatever set of bad decisions or personal choices occur or require concealing and hiding to shift the focus to something more benign and innocuous. In terms of patients carrying a borderline diagnosis, the attention-seeking behaviors are aimed at splitting and causing such chaos around them, that the ability to take ownership or accountability takes a backseat to the clinician focusing primarily on the week’s crisis.

Nevertheless, these diagnoses are not the only ones in which attention-seeking behavior is enacted by the patients who carry the mental health disorder. Thus, patients with personality disorders are primarily attributed to enacting attention-seeking behaviors above other less performative. We, as clinicians and friends of people carrying a mental health diagnosis, need to remember why? From an epidemiological standpoint, diagnoses are merely the markers of the incidence and distribution of symptoms in patients. From a mental health perspective, we clinicians and friends need to remember all humans seek behavior at different levels, even at cross-purposes, and always to connect with other people fundamentally. While this should be a given axiom in mental health, it is not! Only when these behaviors create extreme distress, for the person exhibiting or displaying the behavior, and the people in their social world is truly diagnosable and problematic.

As stated before, mastering grabbing the attention of peers and other colleagues is simple. After going through such extreme lengths to capture attention, and experiencing the police show up at the door. Rigor, persistence, and aim were so alarming and off the mark in terms of purpose that everyone was puzzled. Again, this is when attention-seeking goes awry. Over the years, since this writer has been in mental health and learning to scale back, and generally decrease the intensity and viability of behaviors. This writer is very good at gaining a peers’ attention without making it clear as day from when I began to enter the social scene.

As a society, we have begun to truly mark, identify those seeking attention, and shame them for such behaviors. Not entirely sure this is the right path or the best way to handle such behaviors. Collectively, we need to make it clear that such behavior is unwelcome, unwarranted, and not necessarily appropriate. We give the person seeking such behavior precisely what they are looking for when displaying such untoward or visibly obnoxious scenes. 

I believe people need to take a more psychologically sound and driven approach when putting the blinders up. Actively ignoring and minimizing or better yet, making it clear through our body language and words, these sorts of displays are ineffective in capturing our attention and keeping it.

About the Author

J. Peters

Bold 10 Under 10 award recipient Jacques Peters ’08, MSW ’12 . Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), therapist and disability rights advocate, Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various systems of care, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health or the city’s Department of Corrections. Jacques is the author of University on Watch: Crisis in the Academy, which he published under the pen name J. Peters in 2019, and First Diagnosis, published in 2020. Jacques refers to his stance on recovery in his journal articles as “Too big to fail.” No obstacle too big, no feat out of reach, Jacques let nothing stop him in his path to recovery and healing.
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