Antisocial Personality Disorder

(ASPD)

Definition

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a mental illness in which a person's way of thinking, understanding different situations and relating to others are debilitated and also destructive. People with ASPD usually have no regard for right and wrong and often ignore the rights, wishes and feelings of others.

Those with ASPD tend to manipulate others or treat others either harshly or with callous indifference. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use.


ASPD affects a person's regular activity. For example, if someone with ASPD is in a relationship with someone, they will constantly hurt and disappoint their partner due to their lack of understanding the feelings of others. With time and opportunity, they will demonstrate unacceptable and hurtful behaviour towards that someone/partner.

Risk Factors

While the exact causes of this disorder have not yet been determined, environmental and genetic factors play a role in this mental illness. Some people may have genes that make them vulnerable to developing antisocial personality disorder, and life situations may trigger its development. Environmental factors are believed to contribute to the development of antisocial personality disorder since a person whose role model had antisocial tendencies is more likely to develop the disorder.


Other risk factors include:



    • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
    • Verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood
    • Dysfunctional or chaotic family life
    • Loss of parents through traumatic divorce during childhood


    About 3 percent of men and about 1 percent of women have antisocial personality disorder, with much higher percentages among the prison population

    Symptoms

    Some signs and symptoms include:


    • Disregard for right and wrong
    • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
    • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
    • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behaviours
    • Poor or abusive relationships
    • Irresponsible work behaviour
    • Failure to learn from the negative consequences of behaviour

    Tests and Diagnosis

    Diagnosis is given to those over 18 years of age. ASPD is confirmed by a psychological evaluation, lab tests and physical exams. Other disorders should be eliminated first, as this is a very serious diagnosis. To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must have had conduct disorder during childhood. A person with antisocial personality disorder have a slim possibility of producing an accurate account of his or her signs and symptoms. Family and friends may be able to provide helpful information.

    Treatment

    Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. Treatment of ASPD usually involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in that field. People with ASPD may also need treatment for other conditions, such as depression, anxiety or substance use disorders.


    If you have a loved one with antisocial personality disorder, it's important that you also get help for yourself. Mental health professionals with experience managing this condition can teach you skills to learn how to set boundaries and help protect yourself from the aggression, violence and anger common to ASPD. They can also recommend strategies for coping.

    Maciek Batorski

    Clinical Social Worker/ Therapist



    • Years in Practice: 30+ Years
    • School: University of Warsaw, Poland
    • Year Graduated: 1981
    ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER