Antisocial Personality Disorder

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Condition updated on June 18th, 2018

Antisocial Personality Disorder

What Is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder is often mistaken for someone who does not like people. This is not what it means to have an antisocial personality. Antisocial personality disorder is a disorder in which a person does not show concern for rules or safety. A person with antisocial personality disorder is likely to engage in reckless behavior like breaking the law. He or she will also have issues with authority and will lack remorse for poor behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms

The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder often reflect criminal behavior. Those with antisocial personality disorder do not show concern about breaking rules or laws. They will also engage in dangerous behavior without consideration of themselves or others. The following are typical symptoms of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Lying, stealing, or conning
  • Manipulation and exploitation of others
  • Anger management issues
  • Criminal behavior
  • Explosive or aggressive behavior
  • Hostility toward others
  • Poor relationship or interpersonal skills
  • Lack of remorse for hurting others or themselves
  • Violent behavior (fighting, assaults, etc.)
  • Lack of concern for the safety of others
  • Lack of consequential thinking
  • No remorse behaving poorly

A person with antisocial personality disorder will also not be concerned with responsibilities. Work, school, or legal obligations will not seem urgent. The antisocial patient will not care to keep up with them.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Causes and Risk Factors

Typically, a person begins to show signs during childhood and adolescence. A child or teen showing behavior issues like fighting or not listening to rules could be showing signs of antisocial personality. The following are childhood diagnoses that can develop into antisocial personality disorder:

  • Conduct Disorder – a pattern of difficulty or disinterest in following rules or cooperating with others. Often behaves violently or aggressively.
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder – a pattern of vindictive, defiant, and argumentative behavior. Often shows signs of irritability and is disruptive at home and school.

There are several different reasons why a person may develop antisocial personality disorder. Such factors include:

  • Chaotic childhood upbringing
  • Having antisocial behavior modeled during childhood
  • Having antisocial parents or guardians, or parents with other mental health issues
  • Being exposed to violence as a child
  • History of abuse or neglect
  • Inconsistent consequences as a child, preventing the development of consequential thinking or taking responsibility for actions

Treatment Of Antisocial Personality Disorder

It is not easy to treat antisocial personality disorder. There must be a high motivation to get better from the antisocial patient. If there is not, he or she will not likely improve. With the right motivation, the following therapies can help reduce behavioral issues of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Anger management helps by teaching strategies to reduce reactive behavior.
  • Cognitive therapy teach consequential thinking skills.
  • Family counseling if the patient has family that is willing to help with conduct issues family counseling can be helpful. It helps improve empathy and holds the patient accountable for his or her actions.

Many people with antisocial personality disorder will end up doing prison time at some point. Prison programs have been helpful to reduce symptoms in some cases. Time away in prison helps the patient reflect on his life decisions and how his or actions have contributed to current issues. This has the potential to increase motivation to get treatment. With treatment the patient can learn cognitive and behavioral functions to reduce symptoms. Time away could also lead to the worsening of symptoms as a result of the environment. There tends to be hostility, crime, and destructive atmospheres that could negatively impact symptoms.

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