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What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a personality disorder that can create various challenges for a person and their loved ones. It can include impulsive, irresponsible, and even criminal behavior. According to the DSM-V, about 0.2% to 3.3% of U.S. adults have this personality disorder.  

People with antisocial personality disorder can also be manipulative, deceitful, and reckless and have no regard for other people’s feelings.

Like other personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder exists on a spectrum, meaning its severity can range. For example, people with antisocial personality disorder can vary from engaging in destructive behavior sometimes to breaking the law and committing severe crimes.

This article will discuss antisocial personality disorder, who it impacts, and more. It also features mentions of gendered language, as indicated in the research. 

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

People with ASPD may have the following symptoms:

  • Lie, deceive, con, and exploit other people
  • Act in a rash manner
  • Have irritable and aggressive behavior
  • Fight or assault others
  • Break the law 
  • Have no regard for the safety of others or themselves
  • Have no feelings of remorse after hurting or wronging someone else
  • Unable to meet money, work, or social duties

People with ASPD may also do the following:

  • Justify or rationalize their toxic behavior 
  • Blame the victim for their behavior
  • Be indifferent to others, even after the exploitative and harmful impacts of their actions

How Does Antisocial Personality Disorder Get Diagnosed?

Symptoms of this disorder usually begin in childhood but are often not diagnosed until later in a person’s life. When people with this disorder are children, they may experience violent bursts of anger and portray cruelty to animals. In addition, other children may describe them as bullies. 

Even though it starts in childhood, ASPD cannot be officially diagnosed before age 18. As a result, children who have these symptoms are diagnosed with conduct disorder.

To be diagnosed with ASPD, a person must show a disregard and violation of the rights of others before age 15. It must include at minimum one of seven of these symptoms:

  • No regard for the safety of the self and others
  • Failing to obey laws
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Agitation, irritability and aggression
  • No remorse for actions
  • Lying or manipulating others for amusement or financial gain
  • Continuous patterns of irresponsibility

The person must also be at least 18 and not display antisocial behavior due to other mental health conditions, like bipolar disorder, for example.

Some critics also believe the DSM-V diagnostic criteria concentrate too much on behaviors related to criminal activity. These concerns have been pointed out that the diagnosis may be wrongly applied to people in low socioeconomic or urban settings. Antisocial behavior may be due to a protective survival strategy in these settings. 

What is the cause of antisocial personality disorder?

There is no one cause of ASPD, but some factors can put a person at risk of developing it. These include: 

  • Biology: People with ASPD may have atypical levels of serotonin. 
  • Environment: Trauma or abuse can increase the risk, especially early childhood trauma or abuse. 
  • Genetics: Some genetic factors can predispose some people to develop ASPD; however, there is not one single genetic factor responsible for developing the disorder.
  • Lifestyle: Approximately half of people with ASPD have issues with drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Sex: Men have a higher likelihood than women of developing ASPD.

What are the Impacts of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Criminal behavior can be one of the features of antisocial personality disorder, with a high risk of someone with the condition to commit crimes and possibly be imprisoned at some point.

Men with antisocial personality disorder are 3 to 5 times more likely than women to have issues with alcohol and drugs than those without the condition. In addition, there is a higher risk of dying prematurely due to reckless behavior or suicide attempts. People with antisocial personality disorder can also have relationship issues during adulthood. In addition, they can be unemployed and unhoused.  

In addition, some psychopaths are known to have a severe form of antisocial personality disorder. However, according to research, not every person with ASPD is a psychopath. In fact, about one-third of people with antisocial personality disorder will meet the criteria for psychopathy.

Are there any treatment options for Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder can be a challenging disorder to treat. Usually, people who have it won’t seek treatment on their own. However, behavioral treatment, like rewarding appropriate behavior and having negative consequences for negative behavior, can work in some people. In addition, talk therapy has been shown to help potentially, as well as treating co-morbid conditions. These can include ADHD, depression, and PTSD. 

What type of psychotherapy can help?

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of counseling that can change a person’s thinking and behavior. This type of therapy can be effective because it can help people with ASPD reflect on how their behavior impacts others. In addition, people with ASPD can find individual, group, or family therapy helpful. 

Are there medications used to treat antisocial personality disorder?

Medication can help people with ASPD for symptoms like aggression, depression, or erratic moods. Healthcare providers may recommend the following:

  • Antidepressants: these can regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Common antidepressants for treating symptoms of ASPD include sertraline and fluoxetine.
  • Antipsychotics: these can reduce violent behavior or aggression. Some antipsychotics used include risperidone and quetiapine.
  • Mood stabilizers: these can help manage severe mood symptoms. Common mood stabilizers used include lithium and carbamazepine.


ASPD can be a complex mental illness and cause stress and disruptions in daily life for a person or their loved ones. Even though it can be challenging to treat, some treatment options can help with this condition. 

Treatment can help a person learn coping skills to protect them from harm. In addition, group therapy and support groups can provide meaningful resources and a support system.

Be sure to browse our listings at LGBTQ and ALL to find the right mental health provider for your unique situation. 

If you are a mental health provider specializing in antisocial personality disorder, you can sign up for our directory and contact potential clients immediately. 

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