Excessive attention seeking

Excessive attention seeking

When we don't feel accepted by ourselves, we don't feel accepted by anyone. This is why relying on psychotherapy is so important in these cases.

Excessive attention seeking

Last update: December 27, 2022

We have all known people who always want to attract attention. At its highest degree excessive attention seeking indicates a maladjusted personality, specifically to the group of personality disorders *.

Within the group of dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders, known in the DSM-IV as group B of personality disorders, we find a picture characterized by an extreme attention-seeking.

Sufferers tend to go unnoticed because they generally adapt at a social and work level. Their Achilles heel, on the other hand, is personal relationships. Being highly emotional and dramatic, they use manipulation to get what they want.

These individuals have a disorder that involves the emotional and motivational sphere. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention seeking.

It usually occurs in early adulthood and predicts inappropriate seductive behavior, as well as an excessive need for approval.

"Most of the world's problems are caused by people who want to get attention"

-Thomas Stearns Eliot-

General pattern of excessive attention seeking

People who constantly need attention they generally enjoy good social skills. They often use them to manipulate others and thus become the center of attention; they are disheartened if they fail to do so.

They seem to have strong self-esteem, but this is not the case because they need to reaffirm it with their constant requests for attention.

They are like children who misbehave or perform singing or dancing for the sole purpose of attracting adult attention. The general pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking occurs in various contexts:

  • Feeling uncomfortable in situations where you are not the center of attention.
  • Interaction with others is often characterized by sexually seductive or provocative behaviors.
  • Superficial and rapidly changing emotional expression.
  • Using your physical appearance to draw attention to yourself.
  • Using an overly subjective and nuanced way of speaking.
  • Resorting to exaggerated theatricality and emotional expression.
  • Being suggestible, as it is easily influenced by others or by circumstances.
  • Consider relationships more intimate than they actually are.

“People with big egos need to be the center of attention, they crave recognition and care little about others. On the contrary, a healthy self-esteem allows us to respect our own wishes and also those of others ”.

-Andrew Matthews-

People with a high emotional need

Highly emotional people tend to make mistakes when evaluating their personal situation. They lack realism, dramatize and exaggerate their difficulties.

They can also change jobs frequently, in the same way that they tend to get bored easily and get frustrated rather than facing a given situation. For this reason they are always looking for novelty and adrenaline, which often leads them to dangerous situations.

They seem like very attractive and funny people, as they show a lot of vitality, enthusiasm and interest. However, after a certain period of time, they are perceived by others as demanding and stressful.

The need for affection and attention also hides a great selfishness in the most important cases. The only thing that bothers and interests these people are themselves. They are very sociable and love to be with others, but they must always be the center of interest.

If someone is going through a bad time it doesn't really matter. They are often envious of those who try to outshine them and compete with them in seeking attention. They use sex and physical attraction to get the attention of others.

They believe they are the most attractive people in the world and they have no qualms about being provocative and even inappropriate, thinking that others are crazy with desire for them, when this is not always the case.

In love affairs, they tend to overestimate their partner at first and feel disappointed over time. They live the beginning of relationships with great intensity, but gradually the interaction becomes stormy.

Excessive pursuit of psychiatric attention and complications

DSM IV defines the personalities described in this article as having a mental disorder, so the ideal is that the person is treated by a professional. Otherwise, you run the risk of experiencing serious complications such as:

  • Tendency to suicide. Especially in painful situations, such as a breakup or a disappointment in love. However, it is pertinent to mention that in most cases these attempts do not really endanger their lives, but rather constitute another wake-up call after experiencing strong emotions.
  • Vulnerability to suffer from other mental disorders such as dysthymia, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, panic disorder, conversion disorder, brief reactive psychosis, somatization disorder, among others.


The meaning of these people's life is that of do not go unnoticed and make a sensation wherever they go. They seem to enjoy solid self-esteem, but this is not the case as they need to reassert it with their constant requests for attention.

In this way they manage to fill the emotional void they carry inside for a few moments. In many cases, this lack of self-esteem has an unconscious basis.

It is recommended to search professional help to achieve healthy self-esteem and understand that there are other reinforcers besides external recognition. It is about reaching a level of maturity where one does not depend on the eyes of others.

The aim is to promote and build a healthy self-concept and, in this way, to avoid behaviors that can sometimes be dangerous. The most important aspect is not avoiding certain behaviors, but building a good image of yourself. An image through which external approval is not required to feel accepted.

Because in reality the one who has to accept us is ourselves. When we don't feel accepted by ourselves, we don't feel accepted by anyone. This is why relying on psychotherapy is so important in these cases.

"No one has learned the meaning of life until he has subdued his ego to serve his brothers."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson-

* Personality disorders are defined as experiences and behaviors that differ from social norms.

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