Is Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Every personality is unique. In some cases, a person’s way of
thinking and behaving can be destructive — both to others and to themselves. People
with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)
have a mental health condition that causes patterns of manipulation and
violation of others around them. This condition overwhelms their personality.
ASPD typically begins during childhood or early adolescence and
continues into adulthood. People with ASPD display a long-term pattern of:
- disregarding the law
- violating the rights of others
- manipulating and exploiting others
People with the disorder commonly don’t care if they break the
law. They may lie and place others at risk without feeling any remorse.
A study in Alcohol Research
and Health states that about 3 percent of men and 1 percent of women have
ASPD. The condition is much more common in men than in women.
Causes Antisocial Personality Disorder?
The exact cause of ASPD is unknown. Genetic and environmental
factors may play a role. You may be at greater risk of developing the disorder
if you’re male and you:
- were abused as a child
- grew up with parents who had ASPD
- grew up with alcoholic parents
Are the Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Children with ASPD tend to be cruel to animals and set fires
illegally. Some symptoms in adults include:
- being angry often
- being arrogant
- manipulating others
- acting witty and charming to get what they want
- lying frequently
- acting aggressively and fighting often
- breaking the law
- not caring about personal safety or the safety
- not showing guilt or remorse for actions
People who have ASPD have a higher risk of substance abuse. Research has
linked alcohol use to increased aggression in people with ASPD.
Is Antisocial Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of ASPD cannot be made in people younger than 18. Symptoms
that resemble ASPD in those people may be diagnosed as a conduct disorder. People
older than 18 can be diagnosed with ASPD only if there’s a history of conduct
disorder before the age of 15.
A mental health provider can question individuals who are over 18
years about past and current behaviors. This will help detect signs and
symptoms that could support a diagnosis of ASPD.
You must meet certain criteria to be diagnosed with the
condition. This includes:
- a diagnosis of conduct disorder before the age
- documentation or observation of at least three
symptoms of ASPD since the age of 15
- documentation or observation of symptoms of ASPD
that don’t occur only during schizophrenic or manic episodes (if you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder)
Is Antisocial Personality Disorder Treated?
ASPD is very difficult to treat. Typically, your doctor will try
a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It’s hard to assess how
effective the available treatments are in dealing with ASPD’s symptoms.
Your psychologist may recommend different types of psychotherapy
based on the your situation.
behavioral therapy can help reveal negative thoughts and behaviors. It can
also teach ways of replacing them with positive ones.
psychotherapy can increase awareness of negative, unconscious
thoughts and behaviors. This can help the person change them.
No medications are specifically approved for the treatment of ASPD.
Your doctor may prescribe:
- mood stabilizers
- antianxiety medications
- antipsychotic medications
Your doctor may also recommend a stay in a mental health hospital
where you can receive intensive treatment.
Someone with ASPD to Seek Help
It’s hard to watch someone you care about exhibit destructive
behaviors. It’s especially hard when those behaviors may directly affect you. Asking
the person to seek help is even more difficult. This is because most people
with ASPD don’t acknowledge that they have a problem.
You cannot force a person with ASPD to get treatment. Taking care
of yourself is the best thing you can do. A counselor may help you learn to
cope with the pain of having a loved one with ASPD.
People with ASPD have an increased risk of going to jail, abusing
drugs, and committing suicide. They often do not get help for ASPD unless they
face legal troubles and a court forces them into treatment.
The symptoms of this condition tend to get worse during late
teenage years to early twenties. Treatment may help improve symptoms. Symptoms
can improve with age for some people, allowing them to feel and act better by
the time they reach their forties.