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Drama Kings & Queens: Why Some People Seem to Live for Crisis

We all have one of those friends. The one that seems to thrive on drama and is always involved in one crisis or another. It may even seem like when everything is going well they go out of their way to either find or create some kind of crisis that requires everyone else to stop and pay attention. After a while it can become exhausting.

Have you ever wondered if there is some underlying reason that drama seems to follow some people? It can’t really be fate or coincidence — can it? No, it’s not.

The Psychology of a Drama King or Queen

The truth is that there is a portion of this behavior that has a biological basis. Some people are just wired for more extreme emotions. They are naturally more exuberant or feel more deeply affected by difficult circumstances than others. But that’s not the only factor. A tendency for strong emotions or not, the drama queen (or king) is also likely influenced by the life experiences they have had as they’ve grown. 

For instance, children who experience neglect or who have a parent with mental health issues can be more likely to engage in attention seeking behavior. It’s understandable to a degree — children crave the love and attention of their parents. When that’s not given there are consequences to that child’s developing personality and coping mechanisms. They may act out, have tantrums, or create problems at school. As these children grow, the attention seeking behavior can begin to manifest as drama-filled situations and constant crises.

Many times these individuals, often unknowingly, are also trying to live in a state of distraction. When the drama dies down and things are calm there is more time to think. This can mean facing things in their lives that they want to avoid and bury. Unfortunately, no amount of drama and distraction will keep underlying issues at bay for good. Eventually they will need to deal with whatever problems they may have or have had. The anxiety that arises from these issues will typically produce a chaos response that provides the needed relief.

Constant Drama Means Long-Term Problems

The strange thing is that friend who is always surrounded by drama or dealing with a crisis is also often very charismatic. These people tend to be extroverts and others can be drawn to them, especially those who suffer with self-esteem and self-confidence issues. The drama queen can influence the opinion of others by over-blowing situations and riling people up. At times this can be on the behalf of those who may not naturally stand-up for themselves. The consequences to this can range — sometimes the results are positive and other times negative. Eventually, however, the constant engagement in over-blown, dramatic behavior will lead to problems.

People who seem to thrive in with constant drama often have trouble maintaining long-term relationships. As time goes on no amount of charisma can offset the frustration and exhaustion that is created by the drama queen’s hectic and stressful behavior. In fact, many people who are drawn into this behavior can find that their own anxiety levels rise to unmanageable levels. 

In addition, the highs and lows of drama ups and downs can have serious health effects on a person who lives in this state. The stress that these fluctuations create in your body can produce excess adrenaline and cortisol that affect the functioning of other systems within the body. Add to that high blood pressure, sleep and eating disturbances and you have a recipe for a cascade of potential health problems. 

There is another issue that those who are prone to drama seeking behavior often face — depression. As those around them lose interest and patience for their behavior, or as they are forced to face the underlying issues they have tried to ignore, the drama queen becomes very susceptible to depression. 

Depression is a serious affliction. It’s much more than just feeling sad, or pouting because you’re not getting the attention you want. Untreated depression can cause many additional problems in daily life, careers and relationships. The most serious risk being the possibility of suicidal ideation or behavior. Chaos making can also be a sign of depression as well as a way to hide it

So if your friend’s drama and constant crises are starting to wear on your nerves, take some time to consider what may really be inspiring their behavior. It could be that they are actually in need of some help with more than the latest drama. Or — could that be person you? 

Drama Kings & Queens: Why Some People Seem to Live for Crisis


Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and writes a blog about the issues facing men (and the women who love them). As an expert in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today, he regularly appears on The Huffington Post, NerdWallet and PsychCentral. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.


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APA Reference
Smith, K. (2019). Drama Kings & Queens: Why Some People Seem to Live for Crisis. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 13, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/drama-kings-queens-why-some-people-seem-to-live-for-crisis/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 24 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 24 Sep 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.