Antisocial Personality Disorder – What is, Causes and Treatment

The name of the disorder sounds as if patients suffering from it are shut-ins or at least extremely reclusive. However, Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) actually means something quite different. People suffering from ASPD are actually not afraid to interact socially. The primary problem for these individuals that have this form of mental illness is their inability to conform to basic rules of social conduct.

It is important to distinguish the person suffering from ASPD from the person who is merely rude or aggressive. When a person suffers from ASPD, he or she exhibits a pattern of disregard for the rights of others. Others refer to this disorder as a lack of conscience.

People suffering from this personality disorder often have a history of legal problems by the time that they arrive at adulthood. The condition is usually evident during childhood. Children with already evident symptoms usually display impulsive and aggressive behavior toward others. There are a variety of behaviors which are consistent with this condition.

What Is ASPD?

“Antisocial Personality Disorder” falls in the category of personality disorders. This category has an extensive list of disorders. Generally, most of the disorders within this category share something in common, therefore are classed together. Some may ask, What Is Antisocial Personality Disorder? To answer this in its simplest form, it is the act of disregard or violation of the rights of others in society. This can be seen in behavior in many different ways. Some of the behaviorally effects or signs of ASPD may include :

  • Not feeling guilty for wrong actions
  • irresponsibility
  • not following rules, regulations, and obligations
  • breaking the law
  • not following code of conduct
  • low tolerance
  • violence
  • aggression
  • blaming others


Causes Of ASPD

Just like other personalty disorders, “antisocial personality disorder” is difficult to work with. This is manly because there are literally tons of mental illnesses that share common causes and effects. Some of these illnesses include but are not limited to :

  • borderline personality disorder
  • multiple personality disorder
  • dissociative personality disorder
  • depression disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • other personality related illnesses


There are also illnesses which may occur or develop because of these personality disorders. These illness may develop because of the “antisocial personality disorder” or may coexist with the illness it self. These include but are not limited to :

  • borderline personality disorder
  • substance abuse
  • suicidal actions
  • depression disorders
  • sleep disorders
  • anger disorder

other mental illnesses etc.

Because of this working around antisocial personality disorder is quite hard just like any other personality related disorder. Another reason why this may be because personality disorders like such are quite unique in every case. Since every patient is unique and different in their own ways the illnesses within them may also be different and unique in some ways and in other ways they might be similar.

The cause may have genetic origin but may also be influenced by many other factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorders

There are many characteristics displayed by those suffering from ASPD, including at least some of the following:

  • Persistent and constant lying and/or stealing
  • Showing a lack of empathy for other people or any remorse for actions against them
  • Cruelty against animals
  • Lack of behavioral control – often showing uncontrollable evidence of annoyance, irritability, impatience, aggression, threats, temper, anger, verbal abuse
  • A history of conduct disorder during childhood
  • Repeated difficulties and run-ins with the law
  • Tendencies to violate the rights and boundaries of other people
  • Promiscuity
  • Violence and aggressive behavior, prone to fighting
  • Very low boredom threshold/inability to cope with boredom
  • Complete disregard for safety of self and others
  • Lack of responsibility towards work behavior
  • Poor and/or abusive personal relationships

People who suffer from ASPD however, can be extremely dangerous as they often have a superficial charm about them and a distorted opinion of their own self. They display shallow emotions and can be constantly searching for new sensations (often having bizarre consequences). They can be extremely manipulative, abusing those around them without showing any signs of empathy or remorse for their victims. They are often egocentric, impulsive extroverts which need to in control and have a craving for power.

Diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorders

Antisocial Personality Disorders can often be seen from childhood (known simply as “conduct disorder” in children), although in other cases where it has been influenced more by environmental factors, from around the age of 15. Three or more of the following behaviors must be present, in order to be diagnosed with ASPD.

  • Lying and deceitfulness, the use of aliases, conning other people for personal gain or pleasure
  • No forward planning, just repeated impulsiveness
  • Repeated inappropriate behavior ending in arrest
  • The inability to conform to the laws and social norms
  • Repeated fights and assaults on others, due to uncontrollable aggression
  • Complete and utter disregard for safety, either for self or for other people
  • The inability to fulfil any sustained working or financial obligations
  • Promiscuity
  • Extremely shallow feelings, or even nonexistent
  • Complete lack of remorse and indifference for anyone who has suffered because of their actions

It is now thought that Antisocial Personality Disorders can be caused by environmental conditions, as well as genetics and other hereditary factors.

Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorders

Without doubt, this is the most difficult of all the personality disorders to treat. Patients are not rude and aggressive all the time. They are keenly aware of their own interests.

If necessary, and sometimes because they simply see it as the best method to get what they want, some people suffering from ASPD can be very charming. They can even fool professionals, putting on a face of repentance and change only to resume their usual activities later when they are unobserved.

Since such people are often in trouble with the law, the only way many of them can get effective treatment is through a parole or probation program which requires them to participate in treatment.

Since most people suffering from ASPD are so aware of their own well-being, they will usually at least participate is such programmed help. Typically, they also need ongoing help in residential programs and from their peers.

Even in residential programs, however, treatment is difficult. Patients with ASPD are known to manipulate and threaten fellow residents outright. Nevertheless, this format is preferable because outpatient therapy has a poor record of success with this population.

It is possible to begin detecting the likelihood of this condition even when children are very young. There are some key markers of ASPD, such as hyperactivity reading problems, that can tip off psychological professionals to the possibility of the onset of this illness.

Some professionals hope that early intervention in the life of an individual can avoid a great deal of personal suffering for patients, their friends and their acquaintances later in life.


Unfortunately there is no “magic pill” which can be prescribed to help people with antisocial personality disorders, in fact, there really isn’t any known cure at all. There is evidence to suggest that some people suffering from ASPD have shown moderate changes in their behavior through reward systems and other management behaviors, although this is very much ongoing.