The need for attention, attention seeking personality disorder and
tactics for attention getting in the immature adult...............

Drama queens, saviours, rescuers, feigners and attention-seekers
Attention-seeking personality disorders,
victim syndrome, insecurity and centre of attention behaviour

Human beings are social creatures and need social interaction,
feedback, and validation of their worth. The emotionally mature person
doesn't need to go hunting for these; they gain it naturally from
their daily life, especially from their work and from stable
relationships. Daniel Goleman calls emotional maturity emotional
intelligence, or EQ; he believes, and I agree, that EQ is a much
better indicator of a person's character and value than intelligence
quotient, or IQ.

The emotionally immature person, however, has low levels of self-
esteem and self-confidence and consequently feels insecure; to counter
these feelings of insecurity they will spend a large proportion of
their lives creating situations in which they become the centre of
attention. It may be that the need for attention is inversely
proportional to emotional maturity, therefore anyone indulging in
attention-seeking behaviours is telling you how emotionally immature
they are.

Attention-seeking behaviour is surprisingly common. Being the centre
of attention alleviates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy but the
relief is temporary as the underlying problem remains unaddressed: low
self-confidence and low self-esteem, and consequent low levels of self-
worth and self-love.

Insecure and emotionally immature people often exhibit bullying
behaviours, especially manipulation and deception. These are necessary
in order to obtain attention which would not otherwise be forthcoming.
Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will
exhibit temper tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid
exposure of their true nature and to evade accountability and
sanction. This page lists some of the most common tactics bullies and
manipulators employ to gain attention for themselves. An attention-
seeker may exhibit several of the methods listed below.

Attention seeking methods

Attention-seeking is particularly noticeable with females so I've used
the pronoun "she". Males also exhibit attention-seeking behaviour.

Attention seekers commonly exploit the suffering of others to gain
attention for themselves. Or they may exploit their own suffering, or
alleged suffering. In extreme forms, such as in Munchausen Syndrome By
Proxy, the attention-seeker will deliberately cause suffering to
others as a means of gaining attention.

The sufferer: this might include feigning or exaggerating illness,
playing on an injury, or perhaps causing or inviting injury, in
extreme cases going as far as losing a limb. Severe cases may meet the
diagnostic criteria for Munchausen Syndrome (also know as Factitious
Disorder). The illness or injury becomes a vehicle for gaining
sympathy and thus attention. The attention-seeker excels in
manipulating people through their emotions, especially that of guilt.
It's very difficult not to feel sorry for someone who relates a
plausible tale of suffering in a sob story or "poor me" drama.

The saviour: in attention-seeking personality disorders like
Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (MSBP, also known as Factitious Disorder
By Proxy) the person, usually female, creates opportunities to be
centre of attention by intentionally causing harm to others and then
being their saviour, by saving their life, and by being such a caring,
compassionate person. Few people realise the injury was deliberate.
The MSBP mother or nurse may kill several babies before suspicions are
aroused. When not in saviour mode, the saviour may be resentful,
perhaps even contemptuous, of the person or persons she is saving.

The rescuer: particularly common in family situations, she's the one
who will dash in and "rescue" people whenever the moment is opportune
- to herself, that is. She then gains gratification from basking in
the glory of her humanitarian actions. She will prey on any person
suffering misfortune, infirmity, illness, injury, or anyone who has a
vulnerability. The act of rescue and thus the opportunities for
gaining attention can be enhanced if others are excluded from the act
of rescue; this helps create a dependency relationship between the
rescuer and rescued which can be exploited for further acts of rescue
(and attention) later. When not in rescue mode, the rescuer may be
resentful, perhaps even contemptuous, of the person she is rescuing.

The organiser: she may present herself as the one in charge, the one
organising everything, the one who is reliable and dependable, the one
people can always turn to. However, the objective is not to help
people (this is only a means to an end) but to always be the centre of

The manipulator: she may exploit family relationships, manipulating
others with guilt and distorting perceptions; although she may not
harm people physically, she causes everyone to suffer emotional
injury. Vulnerable family members are favourite targets. A common
attention-seeking ploy is to claim she is being persecuted,
victimised, excluded, isolated or ignored by another family member or
group, perhaps insisting she is the target of a campaign of exclusion
or harassment.

The mind-poisoner: adept at poisoning peoples' minds by manipulating
their perceptions of others, especially against the current target.

The drama queen: every incident or opportunity, no matter how
insignificant, is exploited, exaggerated and if necessary distorted to
become an event of dramatic proportions. Everything is elevated to
crisis proportions. Histrionics may be present where the person feels
she is not the centre of attention but should be. Inappropriate
flirtatious behaviour may also be present.

The busy bee: this individual is the busiest person in the world if
her constant retelling of her life is to be believed. Everyday events
which are regarded as normal by normal people take on epic proportions
as everyone is invited to simultaneously admire and commiserate with
this oh-so-busy person who never has a moment to herself, never has
time to sit down, etc. She's never too busy, though, to tell you how
busy she is.

The feigner: when called to account and outwitted, the person
instinctively uses the denial - counterattack - feigning victimhood
strategy to manipulate everyone present, especially bystanders and
those in authority. The most effective method of feigning victimhood
is to burst into tears, for most people's instinct is to feel sorry
for them, to put their arm round them or offer them a tissue. There's
little more plausible than real tears, although as actresses know,
it's possible to turn these on at will. Feigners are adept at using
crocodile tears. From years of practice, attention-seekers often give
an Oscar-winning performance in this respect. Feigning victimhood is a
favourite tactic of bullies and harassers to evade accountability and
sanction. When accused of bullying and harassment, the person
immediately turns on the water works and claims they are the one being
bullied or harassed - even though there's been no prior mention of
being bullied or harassed. It's the fact that this claim appears only
after and in response to having been called to account that is
revealing. Mature adults do not burst into tears when held accountable
for their actions.

The false confessor: this person confesses to crimes they haven't
committed in order to gain attention from the police and the media. In
some cases people have confessed to being serial killers, even though
they cannot provide any substantive evidence of their crimes. Often
they will confess to crimes which have just been reported in the
media. Some individuals are know to the police as serial confessors.
The false confessor is different from a person who make a false
confession and admits to a crime of which they are accused because of
emotional pressure and inappropriate interrogation tactics.

The abused: a person claims they are the victim of abuse, sexual
abuse, rape etc as a way of gaining attention for themselves. Crimes
like abuse and rape are difficult to prove at the best of times and
their incidence is so common that it is easy to make a plausible claim
as a way of gaining attention.

The online victim: this person uses Internet chat rooms and forums to
allege that they've been the victim of rape, violence, harassment,
abuse etc. The alleged crime is never reported to the authorities, for
obvious reasons. The facelessness and anonymity of the Internet suits
this type of attention seeker. [More]

The victim: she may intentionally create acts of harassment against
herself, eg send herself hate mail or damage her own possessions in an
attempt to incriminate a fellow employee, a family member, neighbour,
etc. Scheming, cunning, devious, deceptive and manipulative, she will
identify her "harasser" and produce circumstantial evidence in support
of her claim. She will revel in the attention she gains and use her
glib charm to plausibly dismiss any suggestion that she herself may be
responsible. However, a background check may reveal that this is not
the first time she has had this happen to her.

In many cases the attention-seeker is a serial bully whose behaviour
contains many of the characteristics listed under the profile of a
serial bully, especially the Attention-Seeker. The page on
Narcissistic Personality Disorder may also be enlightening, as may be
the page on bullies in the family.

Feigning victimhood is common to serial bullies and this aspect comes
to the fore in most cases once the bully has been held accountable and
he or she cannot escape or rely on their support network. The tactic
of denial followed by immediate counterattack followed by feigning
victimhood is described on the serial bully page.

Attention seeking and narcissism

Like most personality disorders, narcissism occurs to different
degrees in different people and reveals itself in many ways. Many
business leaders exhibit narcissism, although when present in excess,
the short-term benefits are outweighed by long-term unsustainability
which can, and often does, lead to disaster.

The need for attention is paramount to the person with narcissistic
personality disorder, and he or she will do anything to obtain that
attention. Over the last two years, the fastest growing sector for
calls to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line has been from
the charity / voluntary / not-for-profit sector. In most (although not
all) cases, the identified serial bully is a female whose objective is
to demonstrate to the world what a wonderful, kind, caring,
compassionate person she is. Bold pronouncements, a prominent
position, gushing empathy, sitting on many committees for good causes,
etc all feature regularly. However, staff turnover is high and morale
low amongst those doing the work and interacting with clients. In each
case, the relief of other people's suffering changes from an objective
and instead becomes a vehicle for gaining attention for oneself. In
some situations, more money is spent on dealing with the consequences
of the serial bully's behaviour (investigations, grievance procedures,
legal action, staff turnover, sickness absence etc) than is spent on
clients. See case histories #1 and #3 and #10 for typical examples,
also a news item on Children in Scotland.

I now rest.............