Antisocial personality disorder can be a disruptive force in someone’s daily life. People with antisocial personality disorder often miss out on opportunities and life events because of their disorder. It is important to seek treatment if you have antisocial personality disorder, or any other mental health condition.
What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition that causes a person to be unable to relate to the thoughts or feelings of others. Sometimes shortened to ASPD, the condition is the clinical diagnosis for what is also called sociopathy. People with ASPD tend to be aggressive and manipulative towards others and are incapable of feeling remorse for their actions.
Although many live “normal” lives, the aggressive behavior and lack of remorse can lead some people with ASPD to commit crimes. Even if avoiding criminal actions, people with ASPD are likely to have difficulties fulfilling work or school obligations. Those with antisocial personality disorder are also more likely to develop a substance abuse issue than the average person.
Antisocial personality disorder can cause someone to feel arrogant or superior. They may often use those feelings to justify the mistreatment of others. People with ASPD will often be abusive in relationships due to their anger issues and lack of guilt.
Despite the potential to be hostile, a person with antisocial personality disorder may come across as charming and funny. A person with ASPD may know precisely what to say to exploit individuals. This ability is aided by high levels of confidence and lack of guilt about manipulating others. These qualities are what lead many people with antisocial personality disorder to begin conning others.
What Causes Antisocial Personality Disorder?
There is no singular cause of antisocial personality disorder. Like most mental health conditions, ASPD can be caused by a variety of different factors. Biological, environmental, and psychological factors all may play some role in the development of the disorder.
A traumatic or abusive childhood can contribute to the development of antisocial personality disorder. Being raised in environments that may reward antisocial behaviors also play a role in the development of antisocial personality disorder. These environments could include criminal households or other high-crime areas.
ASPD does not appear to be inherited from family members but there may be genetic factors at play in the development of the condition. Those with antisocial personality disorder are far less sensitive to stress or anxiety. This could be a genetic factor that prevents them from learning from punishments for bad behavior.
There are psychological factors that are directly related to antisocial personality disorder. In people with ASPD, the frontal lobe, which governs judgment and planning, differs from those without the condition. Additionally, there may be changes in the area of the brain that controls violent behavior. Research is currently unclear if these are causes of the disorder or possibly results from already having disorder.
Antisocial Personality Disorder DSM 5
There is no medical test that can determine if a person has antisocial personality disorder. If someone thinks they may have the condition, a medical professional will conduct a clinical interview to evaluate the symptoms.
A medical professional will likely refer to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5. The DSM-5 lists criteria that can be used to diagnose antisocial personality disorder based on the severity of symptoms. According to the DSM-5, someone with antisocial personality disorder will display three or more of the following symptoms:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
- Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
- Impulse control issues or failure to plan ahead
- Aggressiveness or violence, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
- Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
- Consistent irresponsible behavior, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
- Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or justifying having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from others
How to Treat Antisocial Personality Disorder
Due to lack of research, there is still a lot to learn about antisocial personality behavior symptoms, causes, and treatment effectiveness. While there are many options suggested to treat ASPD effectively, there is no clear evidence on which approach is most successful. In reality, treatment of ASPD needs to be based on each person’s needs and specific circumstances.
Family therapy may help bridge the divide between young people with ASPD and families through a better understanding of the disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy may also help promote healthier reactions and behaviors during future events.
Certain medications can be prescribed to treat specific symptoms associated with the disorder. Antidepressants or mood stabilizers can be prescribed to help lessen episodes of anger associated with the disorder. Although medications can be helpful in treatment, the full effectiveness in treating this disorder is not fully understood. At best, medications should be used as a single aspect of a broader treatment plan.
One of the most challenging aspects of treating antisocial personality disorder is that many do not realize they have a problem. Even when confronted with their destructive behavior, a person with ASPD can deny or avoid any sense of wrongdoing. Getting a person with antisocial personality disorder into treatment can be the most challenging step of the process.
At Warner Park Recovery, we’re here to help individuals and families by providing exceptional addiction treatment options. We’re a dual diagnosis (mental health combined with substance abuse treatment) program that offers partial day, intensive outpatient, and traditional outpatient levels of care. We regularly treat patients from the Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Topanga Canyon, The Valley, and Thousand Oaks areas. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment, please give us a call to learn more about our professional services!