What is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)?

What is antisocial personality disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a disease characterized by lack of empathy and respect for others. People with antisocial personality disorder have little or no concern about right and wrong. They confront and often behave indifferently or in a ruthless manner. People with this disease may lie, engage in aggressive or violent behavior, and participate in criminal activities.


Patients with antisocial personality disorder:

  • Symptoms may begin in childhood; such behavior may include arson, cruelty to animals, and difficulty in gaining authority
  • Often causes legal problems due to failure to abide by social norms and not caring about the rights of others
  • Often act impulsively, without considering the consequences of one’s own actions
  • Exhibits aggression and irritability that often leads to physical aggression
  • Difficulty in empathizing with others
  • Show a lack of remorse for disruptive behavior
  • Often have poor relationships with others or have been abused, and are more likely to abuse or neglect their children
  • Often lies and deceives others for personal gain

These characteristics often lead to major difficulties in many areas of life. In essence, the inability to consider the thoughts, feelings and motivations of others leads to harmful ignorance of others.

As adults, this disease can be devastating to both the patient and the people who come into contact with them. People with antisocial personality disorder are more likely to engage in adventurous behavior, dangerous activities, and criminal behavior.People with this disease are usually described as having no conscience and will not regret or blame themselves for their harmful behavior.

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Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder usually begin in childhood, although this condition is usually not diagnosed until later in life. As children, people with this disease often experience intense anger, show cruelty to animals, and are described as bullies by their peers.

Although this condition may begin in childhood, it cannot be formally diagnosed before the age of 18. Children who exhibit these symptoms are diagnosed with conduct disorders. In order to be diagnosed with ASPD, a person must show disregard and violation of the rights of others before the age of 15. This disregard is manifested by at least one of the following seven symptoms:

  • Ignore the safety of yourself and others
  • Not complying with the law
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Lack of remorse for behavior
  • Lying or manipulating others for profit or entertainment
  • Irresponsible model

In addition to exhibiting at least one of these symptoms, the person must be at least 18 years old and not exhibit anti-social behavior due to another disease (such as bipolar disorder to schizophrenia).

Some critics believe that the DSM diagnostic criteria are too focused on behaviors related to criminal behavior.There are concerns that the diagnosis may sometimes be misused for individuals in low socioeconomic or urban environments, where seemingly antisocial behavior may be part of a protective survival strategy. Therefore, the prevalence of this disease may be exaggerated.

According to DSM-V, 0.2% to 3.3% of American adults suffer from antisocial personality disorder, which often affects men more than women.


The exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is unclear.Personality is shaped by multiple forces, including innate and acquired.

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Compared with the general population, ASPD is more common among first-degree biological relatives of people with this disease. Studies have shown that ASPD may be closely related to genetics, and environmental impacts may exacerbate its development.


Upbringing can also have an important impact. Childhood abuse, neglect and trauma are also related to the onset of ASPD.If the child’s parents are abusive and dysfunctional, the child may learn this behavior pattern and then show it to his child.

Children who grow up in disorganized and negligent families also lack opportunities to develop a strong sense of discipline, self-control, and compassion for others.

Brain differences

Many factors have been found to increase the risk of this disease, including smoking during pregnancy and abnormal brain function. Studies have shown that there are differences in the frontal lobe of ASPD patients, which is the area of ​​the brain that plays a role in planning and judgment.

People with this disease also often need greater stimulation, and may look for dangerous or even illegal activities to increase their excitement to the best level.


For many reasons, antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat. People with this disease rarely seek treatment on their own. Those receiving treatment usually receive treatment only after some type of dispute with the legal system.

Although people with ASPD are often exposed to the criminal justice system, research shows that imprisonment and other punishment measures are largely ineffective, because people with the disease usually do not respond to punishment.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to help individuals gain insight into their behavior and change their maladaptive thinking patterns.Effective results usually only appear after long-term treatment. Group and family therapy and psychotherapy-based therapy, whose goal is the ability to recognize and understand the mental state of oneself and others, have also been studied for ASPD and show promise.


Medications can be used to treat some of the symptoms that people with ASPD1 may experience. Some medications that may be prescribed include:

  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizer


Antisocial personality disorder usually has a significant impact on a person’s ability to function, which makes it difficult for a person to deal with many aspects of life.

  • According to DSM-5, this situation may result in imprisonment, injury or death due to harmful or criminal behavior.
  • It affects the ability of individuals to work and maintain interpersonal relationships.
  • This disease can also cause harm to friends, family, colleagues, and strangers, who may be harmed by the patient’s behavior.

Most people with ASPD do not seek help on their own, and the intervention may only occur due to legal issues. Research shows that those with the best prospects are those with stronger social support and better spouse and family relationships.

If your loved one has ASPD, you may find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional. They can help you learn coping skills and help you set boundaries to protect yourself from harm. Group therapy and support groups can also be useful sources of support and information.