JoAnn Spears returns to let her nursing prowess diagnose mental illness among long lost monarchs. This series focuses on Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Her popular previous series on Henry VIII’s illnesses can be found here:
Parts I and II were on Monday and Wednesday.
Today, JoAnn concludes this fascinating series.
A recap of Mary’s career is called for in arguing that she may indeed have had Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Overall, the etiology of histrionic tendencies is poorly researched. Early loss of a parent, or unpredictable parental attention, may contribute to it.
Lack of constructive criticism and discipline may lead to the emergence of a histrionic personality in adolescence. The pubescent Mary was almost universally doted on. Interestingly, her mother-in-law, that clear-sighted Machiavellian survivor Catherine De’Medici, was not nearly so sanguine about the burgeoning Mary.
Dramatic statements and lack of sincerity are strongly associated with the histrionic type. Being easily influenced by others is also characteristic; some aver that Mary’s strike at Elizabeth was incited by her scheming French relatives.
Mary made the histrionic decision in choosing not to subdue the flashing of her considerable beauty, style, and elegance at the austere and Puritan Scots court, damaging her chances of political success.
Perceiving relationships as being deeper or meaningful than they are, or entering too deeply into shallow relationships, comes with the histrionic territory. Clearly, Mary’s initial assessment of her relationship with Lord Darnley was far from accurate. Likewise, she couldn’t or wouldn’t see how extreme and inappropriate the favoritism she showed her exotic Italian secretary was perceived by those around her.
Dependency, the primrose path to getting others to do one’s dirty work, goes hand in hand with histrionic personality disorder.
Histrionic individuals are known to rashly shift from one perspective or plan to another. This can put them in the way of situations and relationships that are unstable or even threatening to their well-being or safety.
Darnley, Rizzio and Bothwell were not the only men who came a cropper in Mary’s wake. The poet Chastelard was executed for romantically hiding under her bed. England’s prime nobleman, Norfolk, was brought low by scheming to marry her. Her sex appeal blasted the career and marriage of Lord Shrewsbury, her eventual jailor. Lack of concern for the impact of one’s drama on others highlights the histrionic trajectory.
Histrionic people have a strong need to be at center stage. Fading into background, keeping a low profile, and having only a bit part to play do not sit well with them. Mary could not allow herself to be forgotten by the European political world. She did all she could to stay on stage with them, even at risk of her own life.
Constant seeking of the approval and reassurance of others rounds out the histrionic personality. Mary, with histrionic insouciance, took herself from screaming drama queen to subdued sainthood without blinking. Such sainthood would bring her the approval of Catholic Europe, and ultimate vindication both from heaven and earth.