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Antisocial Personality Disorder

“Antisocial personality disorder is defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) as “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.”  The current criteria for ASPD, as described in DSM-IV, include a behavioral pattern that begins before age 15 and comprises at least three of the following behaviors:

  • Repeated criminal acts
  • Deceitfulness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Repeated fights or assaults
  • Disregard for the safety of others
  • Irresponsibility
  • Lack of remorse.

People who are diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder tend to show a general disregard for other people and cares very little about the feelings and rights of others.  Antisocial people have often been referred to as sociopaths or psychopaths. Antisocial Personality Disorder is said to make up about 1% of US adult population. Estimates reveal that as high as 70 – 80% of the prison population has antisocial personality disorder. Sometimes, later in adulthood, the more outward and aggressive symptoms of ASPD may diminish and the person may not be involved in criminal activity. Many of basic personality characteristics can remain, thereby affecting the individual’s role in society as well as all those who come in contact with the person.

Antisocial behavior can begin in childhood. Behaviors can include being cruel to animals, bulling younger kids, stealing, lying, destroying property, and acting out aggressively towards others. As the child grows older, and a pattern is established, the behavior can progress into more serious behavior. Adults with antisocial personality disorder can show very little respect for the law. They may end up getting arrested for behaviors such as fighting, using weapons, harassing people, and vandalism. Showing a lack of concern for social norms. Lying is a common part of antisocial behavior. Some lie for gain and some lie for pleasure. Impulsivity and recklessness are two other features of antisocial personality disorder. Impulsivity involves making everyday decisions without giving it much thought or considering the outcome and consequences. They can also become easily irritated and act out aggressively. Antisocial people can tend to get bored easily and act out irresponsibly by not taking care of important responsibilities such as going to work, paying bills on time, and keeping a balanced budget to take care of their family’s needs. Lack of remorse and indifference to others who are suffering is the key feature of someone who has antisocial personality disorder. The person with antisocial personality disorder can be seen as “cold hearted” because they are without the normal levels of human compassion or concern. Not all people with antisocial personality disorder are sociopaths. If they do not have the introspective characteristics of lack of empathy, superficial charm, shallow emotions, and egocentricity.

It is stated that sometimes group psychotherapy can be helpful if the person can develop a sense of trust. Individual psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can also be beneficial.”

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