Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD): Causes, Symptoms and More

What is antisocial personality disorder?

People with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) exhibit a lack of empathy for others. Antisocial personalities are not concerned with what is right or wrong. Their actions are often insensitive or unfeeling, and they often antagonize. People with this disorder may lie, act aggressively or violently and engage in criminal activity.

Antisocial personality disorder symptoms

The following are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Children may display symptoms during early childhood, including fire setting, animal cruelty and trouble with authority
  • Individuals with legal problems are likely to have failed to conform to social norms and not been concerned with others’ rights
  • They act impulsively, without considering the consequences
  • Often engage in physical assaults due to aggressiveness and irritability
  • Can’t empathize with others
  • Do not show remorse for destructive behaviors
  • Children of abused or neglected parents often have poor or abusive relationships with others
  • Lying and deceiving others often for personal gain

Life can be very challenging for people with these characteristics. In order to avoid harmful disregard for others, we must be able to take into consideration their thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

In adulthood, the disorder can negatively affect its sufferer as well as anyone who comes into contact with it. A person with an antisocial personality disorder is more likely to take risks, engage in dangerous activities, and commit crimes. It is often described as a disorder in which the sufferer is without conscience and feels no remorse or regret for his or her actions.

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APD diagnosis

It is not unusual for children with an antisocial personality disorder to exhibit symptoms as early as childhood, but the condition is often only recognized as an adult disorder. People with this disorder are prone to experiencing violent bursts of anger as children, showing cruelty to animals, and being called bullies by their peers.

A child may be affected by the condition, but it can not be officially diagnosed before the age of 18. Conduct disorder is diagnosed in children who display these symptoms.

Antisocial personality disorder nursing diagnosis starts before the age of 15 if the individual disregards and violates other’s rights. When one of these seven symptoms is present, this disregard is apparent:

  • Self-disregard and disregard for others’ safety
  • Disobedience to the law
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Absence of remorse for actions
  • Lie to gain profit or amusement from others
  • Irresponsible behavior

A person must display at least one of these symptoms and be over the age of 18 as well as not display antisocial behavior due to another disorder, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Some critics believe that the DSM diagnostic criteria focus too heavily on behaviors that are associated with crime. Behavioral experts have raised concerns that diagnosis may sometimes be misapplied to those living in low socioeconomic or urban environments, where seemingly antisocial behavior may be an element of survival strategies.

This may have led to an overestimation of the prevalence of this disorder.

Antisocial personality disorder tends to affect more men than women, according to the DSM-V, with a prevalence of 0.2% to 3.3%.

Antisocial personality disorder causes

A variety of factors contribute to the development of personality, including nature and nurture.  However, the exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown.


An increased incidence of ASPD is seen among first-degree biological relatives of those suffering from the disorder compared to the general population. Research indicates that ASPD is somewhat inherited and probably made worse by environmental influences.

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Also, upbringing plays a significant role. A child’s parental behavior – including abuse, neglect, and trauma – can also contribute to ASPD development. If a child is raised by abusive or dysfunctional parents, they are likely to learn these behaviors and incorporate them into their parenting.

Disorganized and neglected homes also do not provide children with the opportunities they need to develop strong senses of discipline, self-control and empathy for others.

Brain differences

Smoking during pregnancy as well as abnormal brain function is found to increase the risk of the disorder. The frontal lobe is a region of the brain involved in planning, judging, and planning. Research suggests that people with ASPD have differences in the area.

The disorder also causes people to need greater stimulation, and therefore, to increase their arousal to a healthy level, they might engage in dangerous or even illegal activities.

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Antisocial personality disorder treatments

Antisocial personality disorder treatments
APD Treatments

It is difficult to treat antisocial personality disorder for a number of reasons. Treatment for the disorder is rarely sought by individuals. Patients who request antisocial personality disorder treatment management and prevention normally have to go through some type of legal system intervention.

Even though people with ASPD frequently interact with the criminal justice system, research indicates that incarceration and other punitive measures have little effect, as the condition usually makes people unresponsive to punishment.

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A cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help gain insight into behaviors and change maladaptive thought patterns. A long-term treatment program is usually necessary for achieving effective results.

A number of treatments have been investigated for ASPD, as well as mentalization-based therapies, which target the capability of recognizing and understanding the mental state of self and others.

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An ASPDl patient may be prescribed medication to relieve some of their symptoms. Medication may include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Mood stabilizers

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In many cases of antisocial personality disorder, people find it difficult to cope with everyday life because it has a significant impact on their functioning.

  • As per the DSM-5, these actions could lead to incarceration, injury or death.
  • It impacts how an individual works and maintains relationships.
  • A person with an anxiety disorder may also harm their family, friends, co-workers or strangers by their actions.

ASPD sufferers do not seek help on their own and are more likely to be intervened in due to legal issues. According to research, those with stronger social support and better ties to their families and spouses have the best outlook.

You may find it useful to speak with a mental health professional if you have a loved one with ASPD. As a result, you will be able to set boundaries that protect you from harm if you learn coping skills from them. Support groups and group therapy can also be useful resources for support and information.

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