Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a longstanding pattern of disregarding the value of others. This personality disorder manifests with angry, defiant, often criminal traits.
About Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is sometimes also referred to as sociopathy. The disorder involves an established pattern of dismissing the rights of others, and a lack of conscience about it. These individuals often become criminals who exhibit no remorse for their harmful actions, hence the term sociopath that was applied to such deviant personalities like Ted Bundy or Charles Manson who personified the most extreme type of the disorder. Individuals with this personality disorder tend towards impulsivity, violence, and substance abuse. The disorder affects approximately 3% of U.S. men and 1% of women.
Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder
There is no specific known cause of anti social personality disorder however there are some identified risk factors. One is genetics, as when a parent displays the antisocial personality traits. Another risk factor involves environmental influences, such as adverse childhood experiences, negative parenting or a lack of parental affection, and other stressful life events that have influenced personality development. Also, there is evidence that there might be a neurological factor, such as experiencing a head trauma or decreased neural activity in the prefrontal cortex.
Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Individuals with anti-social personality disorder tend to be difficult to get along with, as they tend to blame others for any negative thing that they encounter. They have a low tolerance to frustration and will lash out in anger, yet have no sense of empathy for the pain they inflict on others when they do.
Symptoms of anti social personality disorder include:
- Deceiving or exploiting others
- Disregard for right and wrong
- Sense of superiority
- Impulsive behavior
- Hostility, agitation, excessive irritability
- Angry, aggressive, or violent behavior
- Disrespectful of others
- Violating the rights of others, ignoring social norms or rules
- Unstable or abusive relationships
- Neglecting obligations, irresponsibility
- Trouble with the law
- Uses charm to manipulate others
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Never considering negative consequences
Diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder
A diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is withheld for individuals under the age of 18. However, the disorder is preceded by a diagnosis of conduct disorder by the age of 15. The symptoms of conduct disorder in childhood and adolescence parallel the symptoms of anti-social personality disorder.
The majority of individuals with antisocial personality disorder do not seek help for the condition. They may, however, seek treatment for symptoms that arise from the personality disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. It is during an evaluation by a mental health provider of these complaints that the anti-social personality disorder is identified.
Diagnosis will be based on:
- Medical history
- A psychological evaluation
- DSM-5 diagnostic criteria
Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is considered to be among the most difficult personality disorders to treat. The individual either does not believe they are in need of treatment or therapy, or they are unengaged with a therapist’s efforts to try to instill a social conscience in the patient. Some progress can be experienced when the therapist emphasizes the importance of not repeating behaviors that have resulted in legal or financial repercussions.
Psychotherapies best suited for treating antisocial personality disorder are cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management. There is no specific medication for treating anti-social personality disorder, however certain medications are used off-label to help minimize aggressive or impulsive behavior. These might include the anti-epileptic drugs valproate or carbamazepine.
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