Antisocial personality disorder: Causes, diagnosis, and treatment

Individuals who tend to manipulate or act to the detriment of others without feeling remorse for their actions. They may lie, steal, abuse alcohol or drugs. Those are the features of a personality disorder, called antisocial personality. But not everyone with these traits has antisocial personality disorder. To understand more, let's go to the article.


1. What is antisocial personality disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder , sometimes called psychopath, is a mental health disorder that belongs to a group B (Emotional and Impulsive) personality disorder. In there:

  • The individual always shows no interest in right and wrong.
  • Ignoring, infringing on the rights and feelings of others.
  • Tendency to antagonize, manipulate, or treat others harshly
  • A nonchalant attitude, with no guilt or remorse for one's behavior.

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often break the law and become criminals. They may lie, behave roughly, or be impulsive. They have problems with drug and alcohol use. Because of these characteristics, people with this disorder are often unable to fulfill family, work, or school-related responsibilities.

2. Signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder

According to the DSM-5, antisocial personality disorder should include the following four elements:

  • Age 15 or older, disregarding and infringing on the rights of others with the following characteristics:
    •  Disobeying laws or social norms, engaging in illegal activities.
    • Lying, deceiving, manipulating others to benefit themselves.
    • Impulsive behavior
    • Irritability and aggression, manifested by frequently attacking others or engaging in fights.
    • Don't care about the safety of yourself and others.
    • Lack of responsibility, and no remorse for actions done.
  • The person diagnosed must be at least 18 years old. Due to the age of teaching, personality can change.
  • Have symptoms of conduct disorder (another mental health disorder called Conduct Disorder) before age 16. Includes severe and persistent behavioral problems, such as:
    • Aggression towards humans and animals
    • Destruction of property
    • Deception
    • Theft
    • Serious violation of the rules
  • Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder must appear separately. No schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong. In very few certain circumstances – particularly vandalism and crime – can decrease over time. But it's not clear whether this decrease is the result of aging or an increased awareness of the consequences of antisocial behavior.

3. Causes of antisocial personality disorder

Personality is the combination of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make people unique. Personality affects the way we see ourselves and our beliefs about others and the world around us.

The exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is not known, but:

  • Genetics can make you more susceptible to antisocial personality disorder. And life situations can trigger the development of the disorder.
  • Changes in the way the brain works can lead to the development of the disorder.

>> See also: Dramatic personality disorder: Causes, diagnosis and treatment

4. Risk factors for developing the disorder

Several factors arose in the disorder was found. It increases the risk of antisocial personality disorder including:

  • Childhood behavioral disorder
  • Family history of antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorder or mental health disorder
  • Abused or neglected in childhood
  • Unstable, violent or chaotic family life during childhood

Men are more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder than women.

5. Treatment of antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is a complex treatment problem. Usually, treatment using psychotherapy takes a long time. Psychologists will recommend different types of psychotherapy based on the patient's situation.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help reveal negative thoughts and behaviors. It can also teach how to replace them with more positive thoughts and behaviors.

Psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapy can increase awareness of conscious, symptomatic, and unconscious meanings. This can help the person change them.

Behavioral disorders in childhood may be considered a high risk factor for developing disorders in adulthood, including antisocial personality disorder. So it can be preventive for parents, teachers or pediatricians to identify children at risk and then initiate early intervention.

>> See more: Borderline personality disorder: Many people have it but few realize it

Doctor Nhieu Quang Thien Nhan