Antisocial Personality Disorder

Introduction

Each and every individual has a different & unique personality. Some people have antisocial personality disorder. In such cases, their thinking and behaviour pattern can be harmful & destructive – both to themselves and to other people. Individuals suffering from antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) deal with a mental health condition, in which patterns of control, manipulation, infringement, and dominance are formed. This mental health condition overwhelms & overpowers the identity and personality of such individuals. ASPD usually begins amid childhood or early adolescence and proceeds into adulthood. People experiencing antisocial personality disorder showcase patterns and behaviours of:-

  • No regard for right and wrong
  • Manipulating and exploiting other people
  • Disregarding, disrespecting, and often violating the law
  • Ignoring and violating the rights & feelings of others
  • No guilt or remorse for their hurtful actions & behaviour.
  • Lying, acting rashly, violently or impulsively
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse

Research states that about 3% of men and 1% of women suffer from antisocial personality disorder. Men are more affected by this mental health condition as compared to women. Individuals with antisocial personality disorder find it extremely difficult to accomplish responsibilities related to work, family, or academics. 

According to the modern diagnostic systems, ASPD involves two related but not identical mental health conditions: Psychopathy and sociopathy. “Psychopaths” display hurtful actions & behaviours towards other people, filled with immense manipulation, calculation, and exploitation. They are cunning, and lack emotions, empathy, kindness, and compassion. Individuals with psychopathy can be deceptively humorous, charming, charismatic, and fun to be around. But, it is their tactic of manipulating and exploiting others. Psychopathy can be considered as an intense form of antisocial personality disorder. Talking about sociopathy, “sociopaths” are to some degree more able to form connections and attachments with other people as compared to the psychopaths. But still, they ignore and disrespect social rules and laws. They even tend to showcase more impulsive behaviour, and feel easily perturbed than the individuals with psychopathy. 

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

The signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder involve:-

  • Intense anger; getting angry frequently
  • Arrogance, having a sense of superiority, dominance, and being extremely dogmatic & opinionated
  • The manipulation nature towards other people
  • Persistent and constant lying to benefit oneself
  • Deceiving other people in order to exploit them
  • Being insensitive, cold-hearted, and disrespectful towards others
  • Being witty, charismatic or charming for personal pleasure and benefits
  • Disrespecting, violating, and breaking the law; including criminal actions & behaviour
  • Constantly violating the rights of other people, and treating them harshly in a disrespectful way
  • Showcasing impulsive behaviour
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse
  • Extreme irritability, aggression, and agitation. Getting violent and picking up fights with others.
  • No guilt or remorse feeling after hurting other people; lack of empathy, kindness, and compassion for others.
  • Inappropriate risk-taking behaviour; no concern about personal safety or the safety of other people
  • Failing to fulfill the responsibilities related to family, work life, academics, financial obligations, or social duties
  • Abusive or terrible relationships with other people
  • Failing to recognize and unacceptance of the negative consequences of their own actions & behaviours, and even failing to take lessons from the negative consequences.
  • Children suffering from ASPD tend to show cruelty towards animals, and cause destruction to the private or public property.

Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Each and every individual has a unique personality comprising of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. People perceive, understand, and relate to the outside world based on their own personality. It is one’s own personality that determines how someone views himself/herself. One’s own personality forms his/her thinking pattern, emotional aspect, and the way the person acts & behaves. Personality is formed during childhood, and is eventually shaped via biological and environmental factors. 

Now, the exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown, but certain genetic and environmental factors might play a role in the development of ASPD, such as:-

  • Having parents who suffered from ASPD – and further certain life events or situations might trigger the development of antisocial personality disorder.
  • Experienced child abuse
  • Growing up with alcoholic parents
  • During the period of brain development, certain changes might have occurred in the functioning of the brain. 

The Risk Factors of ASPD

  • Men are at greater risk of developing antisocial personality disorder as compared to women.
  • Adults who had been diagnosed with conduct disorder before the age of 15 are more likely to develop ASPD.
  • Anyone in family is suffering or has suffered from antisocial personality disorder
  • Family history of other personality disorders or mental health disorders apart from ASPD
  • Child abuse or trauma during childhood period
  • Growing up in a traumatic or abusive environment; Unstable, negative, abusive, or chaotic family life during childhood period
  • Brain defects and injuries during the developmental years of an individual can also increase the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder.

Diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder can’t be diagnosed before the age of 18. For the diagnosis of ASPD, an individual must meet the following criteria:-

  1. The person should have been diagnosed with conduct disorder before the age of 15.
  2. There should have been documentation or observation of at least 3 symptoms of antisocial personality disorder since the age of 15.
  3. There should have been documentation or observation of ASPD symptoms that do not occur only during schizophrenic or manic episodes (individuals who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder).

Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder

The treatment of antisocial personality disorder can be quite challenging, as individuals having ASPD rarely seek professional help on their own, because usually they are under the impression that they don’t need any help. It can be hard to evaluate the effectiveness of ASPD treatment in regard to the dealing of ASPD symptoms. 

The therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist usually tries a combination of psychotherapy and medication to treat antisocial personality disorder.  

  • Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy in individual or group settings may help in the treatment of antisocial personality disorder. Different types of psychotherapy can be applied to treat ASPD, based on the situation or condition of the individual dealing with antisocial personality disorder. 
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be helpful in recognizing and revealing the negative thoughts and behaviours of the individual, so that those negative thoughts & behaviours can be converted into or replaced by the positive ones.
  • The awareness of unconscious, negative thoughts and behaviours can be increased in the individual dealing with antisocial personality disorder with the help of psychodynamic psychotherapy. This therapy can help the person transform his/her negative thoughts and behaviours.
  • Medications – Any specific medications have not been approved for the treatment of antisocial personality disorder. However, the psychiatrist might prescribe certain medications, such as:-
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antianxiety medications

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