What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

People with antisocial personality disorder do not conform to the norms of society, are deceitful, intimidating in relationships, and do not consider the rights of others. People with this type of personality may engage in criminal activities. You can find more information below.

What is antisocial personality disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called a sociopath or psychopath, is a mental disorder in which a person consistently lacks respect for right and wrong and disregards the rights and feelings of others. People with this type of personality disorder tend to antagonize or manipulate others with harsh or callous indifference. They do not show guilt or remorse for their behavior.

Individuals under the influence of this personality disorder often commit crimes by breaking the law. They may lie, act violent or impulsive, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. Because of these characteristics, people with this disorder are often unable to fulfill responsibilities related to family, work, or school.

What causes antisocial personality disorder?

Personality is the combination of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make everyone unique. The way people know, understand and relate to the outside world and how they see themselves is related to this. Personality is formed by the interaction of hereditary tendencies and environmental factors.

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The exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown, but:

  • Genes may make the individual vulnerable to antisocial personality disorder and related life situations may trigger its development.
  • Changes in the way brain functions result during brain development can trigger this condition.

Who is at risk?

Certain factors appear to increase the risk of developing this type of personality disorder, such as:

  • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Family history of this and other personality or mental health disorders
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Confused, violent, or chaotic family life in childhood

Men are more at risk of developing antisocial personality traits than women.

What are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder?

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder may include:

  • Indifference to what is right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or cheating to exploit others
  • Being emotional, sarcastic, and disrespectful to others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain and personal pleasure
  • arrogance, a sense of superiority, and highly opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsivity or inability to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression, or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse for hurting others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior without respect for your own or others’ safety
  • Bad or abusive relationships
  • Ignoring or learning from the negative consequences of the behavior
  • Being constantly irresponsible and failing to meet business or financial obligations

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

  • aggression towards people and animals
  • Failure to respect property rights
  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • serious violation of the rules
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Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong, in some people certain symptoms — particularly destructive and criminal behaviors — may subside over time. However, it is unclear whether this reduction is a result of aging or an increased awareness of the consequences of antisocial behavior.

When should you see a doctor?

People suffering from antisocial personality disorder are unlikely to seek help on their own. If you suspect that a friend or family member may have the disorder, you can kindly suggest that the person seek help from a mental health professional.

How is antisocial personality disorder diagnosed?

People with antisocial personality disorder are unlikely to believe they need help. However, they may seek help from their primary care provider for other symptoms such as depression, anxiety, angry outbursts, or for the treatment of substance abuse.

People with this type of personality disorder may not be able to accurately describe the symptoms. A key factor in diagnosis is the affected person’s relationship with others. In this case, family and friends can provide useful information.

After a medical evaluation to help rule out other medical conditions, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for further evaluation.

Diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is typically based on:

  • Researching thoughts, feelings, relationships, behavior patterns, and family history
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Personal and medical history
  • Symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association

Typically, this type of personality disorder is not diagnosed before the age of 18, although some symptoms may appear in childhood or teen years. Symptoms of conduct disorder usually appear before the age of 15.

Diagnosing antisocial personality disorder early can help improve long-term outcomes.

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How is antisocial personality disorder treated?

Antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat, but for some people, long-term treatment and close follow-up can be beneficial. You should find medical and mental health professionals who have experience in treating this personality disorder.

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


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

However, psychotherapy is not always effective, especially if the symptoms are severe and the person does not acknowledge that they are contributing to serious problems.


There are no drugs specifically approved to treat antisocial personality disorder. Doctors may sometimes prescribe medication for conditions associated with antisocial personality disorder, such as anxiety or depression, or for signs of aggression. Some drugs should generally be used with caution because these people have the potential for misuse.

Can antisocial personality disorder be prevented?

There is no sure way to prevent the development of antisocial personality disorder in people at risk. Because antisocial behavior is thought to have its origins in childhood, parents, teachers, and pediatricians can detect early warning signs. Early intervention for children with conduct disorder may be a beneficial option.

Complications of antisocial personality disorder

Complications, consequences, and problems of antisocial personality disorder can include:

  • Spousal or child abuse or neglect
  • Problems with alcohol or substance use
  • Being sentenced or being in prison
  • Murder or suicidal behaviors
  • Having other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety
  • Low socio-economic status and homelessness
  • Premature death, often as a result of violence

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