Desmond Kaplan MD FAPA

Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry

1777 Reisterstown Road, Suite 50
 Baltimore, MD 21208

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder, or ASP disorder, is a psychiatric disorder in which an individual acts in socially destructive ways, manipulating and exploiting others for personal gain. An individual with antisocial personality disorder has difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships, constantly ignoring or violating the rights of others. The behavior of an individual with this disorder frequently rises to the level of criminality.

Risk Factors for ASP Disorder

A precise cause of this condition has not been isolated, but antisocial personality disorder is believed to have both genetic and environmental roots. Childhood trauma, particularly childhood abuse, puts individuals at increased risk. Other risk factors for the disorder may include:

  • Being male
  • Having an alcoholic or antisocial parent
  • Having a family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Having an unstable family life in childhood
  • Losing parents through trauma in childhood
  • Spending time in prison
  • Having had conduct disorder as a child

Symptoms of ASP Disorder

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are often especially evident in individuals in their 20s, declining as the patients age. People who have this personality disorder may have trouble with employment and personal relationships because they are irresponsible and unethical. Behavioral symptoms may include:

  • Being witty and charming in order to manipulate
  • Being reckless, disregarding the safety of others
  • Breaking social rules
  • Breaking the law
  • Lying or stealing
  • Engaging in aggressive or abusive behavior
  • Showing no remorse or guilt
  • Abusing substances
  • Being egocentric, having a sense of superiority

Diagnosis of ASP Disorder

To diagnose an individual with antisocial personality disorder, a physical examination and laboratory tests are typically performed to rule out other conditions. A psychological evaluation is also performed. In order to be diagnosed as having antisocial personality disorder, a patient must be 18 years of age or older and be diagnosed as having had conduct disorder as a child under the age of 15. Conduct disorder involves such acts as vandalism, bullying, fighting and animal cruelty.

Treatment of ASP Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat for several reasons. Among these reasons are that individuals with this condition typically:

  • Deny the need for treatment
  • Do not want to take medication
  • Are resistant to acknowledging deep feelings
  • Do not want to follow any protocol
  • Have other problems, such as substance abuse

Those who do seek treatment, or are required to seek treatment by the courts, may require some combination of medication, psychotherapy, hospitalization, and anger-management courses. Behavioral therapy, in which there are very specific consequences for undesired behavior, is usually most effective.

Complications of ASP Disorder

Left untreated, antisocial personality disorder is a dangerous condition which may lead to drug abuse, violence, criminal behavior or imprisonment. Because the behavior of an individual suffering from this disorder is increasingly isolating, there is also a serious risk of suicide.

Additional Resources

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