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Definition

What is antisocial personality disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often violate the law, becoming criminals. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. Because of these characteristics, people with this disorder typically can’t fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.

How common is antisocial personality disorder?

The disorder is more common among men than women. About 3 percent of men and 1 percent of women have ASPD. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder?

The common symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations

Adults with antisocial personality disorder typically show symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15. Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules

Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong, in some people, certain symptoms — particularly destructive and criminal behavior — may decrease over time. But it’s not clear whether this decrease is a result of aging or an increased awareness of the consequences of antisocial behavior.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

People with antisocial personality disorder are likely to seek help only at the urging of loved ones. If you suspect a friend or family member may have the disorder, you might gently suggest that the person seek medical attention, starting with a primary care physician or mental health professional.

Causes

What causes antisocial personality disorder?

Cause of this disorder is unknown. A person’s genes and other factors, such as child abuse, may contribute to developing this condition. People with an antisocial or alcoholic parent are at increased risk. Far more men than women are affected. The condition is common among people who are in prison.

Setting fires and animal cruelty during childhood are often seen in the development of antisocial personality.

Some doctors believe that psychopathic personality (psychopathy) is the same disorder. Others believe that psychopathic personality is a similar but a more severe disorder.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for antisocial personality disorder?

There are many risk factors for antisocial personality disorder, such as:

  • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Family history of antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorders or mental illness
  • Being subjected to abuse or neglect during childhood
  • Unstable, violent or chaotic family life during childhood

Men are at greater risk of having antisocial personality disorder than women are.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is antisocial personality disorder diagnosed?

Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person’s symptoms are. To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must have had emotional and behavioral problems (conduct disorder) during childhood.

How is antisocial personality disorder treated?

Though antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat, for some people, treatment and close follow-up over the long term may be beneficial. Look for medical and mental health professionals with experience in treating antisocial personality disorder.

Treatment depends on each person’s particular situation, their willingness to participate in treatment and the severity of symptoms.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is sometimes used to treat antisocial personality disorder. Therapy may include, for example, anger and violence management, treatment for substance abuse, and treatment for other mental health conditions.

But psychotherapy is not always effective, especially if symptoms are severe and the person can’t admit that he or she contributes to serious problems.

Medications

There are no medications specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat antisocial personality disorder. Doctors may prescribe medications for conditions sometimes associated with antisocial personality disorder, such as anxiety or depression, or for symptoms of aggression. Drugs are usually prescribed cautiously because some have the potential for misuse.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage antisocial personality disorder?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with antisocial personality disorder:

  • People with antisocial personality disorder often act out and make other people miserable — with no feeling of remorse. If you have a loved one with antisocial personality disorder, it’s critical that you also get help for yourself.
  • A mental health professional can teach you skills to learn how to set boundaries and help protect yourself from the aggression, violence and anger common to antisocial personality disorder. They can also recommend strategies for coping.
  • Seek a mental health professional who has training and experience in managing antisocial personality disorder. Ask your loved one’s treatment team for a referral. They may also be able to recommend support groups for families and friends affected by antisocial personality disorder.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 6, 2017 | Last Modified: July 6, 2017

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