Antisocial Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes and, Treatment

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes and, Treatment

Antisocial Personality Disorder

In our day-to-day life, we often encounter different kinds of people. Everyone has different personalities, some with calm nature while others with very aggressive ones. Sometimes, people act rashly and are deficient in empathy. These traits cannot be ignored and may cause harm to our society in many ways. Therefore, these traits come under a specific type of personality disorder known as antisocial personality disorder. However, what is an antisocial personality disorder, and what are its symptoms? We shall talk about this personality disorder in this article.

What is antisocial personality disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) often, called Sociopathy, is a personality disorder where people show no or less empathy towards others and ignore the difference between right and wrong.

A person with ASPD is characterized by manipulative, reckless, impulsive
and hurt other people’s feelings.

What are the symptoms of ASPD?
  • Manipulation and exploitation of others’ rights
  • Lack of guilt
  • being aggressive and hostile toward others
  • Unable to control their anger
  • Ignoring what is right and wrong
  • having criminal behavior

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What are the causes of ASPD?

Many researchers could not find the exact reason for having antisocial personality disorder. It may include all the factors from genetics to experiences that you had while growing up.
As we know, personality is a combination of nature and nurture, in which each person is unique from others.

Enivronmmental Factor

Research studies say that a person’s home and social environment can lead to the development of this disorder.
Sometimes lack of parental affection during the childhood years can increase cortisol levels and reduce balancing hormones like oxytoxin. This all leads to an increase in the stress levels of children, and as a consequence, it disrupts children’s minds to deal with emotions, empathize, and connect to other individuals.

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Genetics also plays an important role in the cause of ASPD. It has been seen that genes make people more prone to this sociopathy disorder.

  • One particular gene that has been shown its correlate with ASPD is Monoamine oxidase A, an enzyme that codes for various chemicals like sertonin and norepinephrine.
  • Low levels of Monoamine oxidase A(MAO-A) lead to aggression in men.
  • Lower activity variants of this enzyme Like; MAO-L likely to develop antisocial personality in children much earlier in their lives.
Brain Chemical

Another factor that may include is our brain releasing certain chemicals that can be responsible for this personality disorder. One brain chemical includes serotonin which, is responsible for the regulation of mood and happiness. Disruption in serotonin levels can lead to antisocial personality disorder.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is generally diagnosed in children. Characteristics of ASPD and conduct disorders run parallel.
This disorder becomes evident by the age of 15. It is mainly characterized by the violation of basic rights by the child, engaging in stealing or vandalism, and getting into fights with other children.
Children with conduct disorder are at the risk of getting ASPD in their 20s if not detected properly during the early stage.

Who develops ASPD?

A research study suggests that antisocial personality disorder affects men more than women. It has been observed that children who had a conduct disorder diagnosis before the age of 15 are likely to be at risk of developing this disorder.
In 80% of the cases, the patient starts showing symptoms of ASPD by the age of 11.
Research also shows that brain defects or injuries during the developmental years are also linked to ASPD.
Other factors such as traumatic experiences, parental conflict, and having a violent family during childhood can also be the risk factors for ASPD.

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To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, the patient will show the symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15.

These symptoms start getting worse around the late teens or 20s but can improve with time. A diagnosis can’t be made until the person is aged 18 years or more with certain kinds of behaviors that include

  • breaking the law repeatedly
  • lack of empathy and remorse
  • being irresponsible and aggressive
  • being impulsive
There are certain diagnoses of antisocial personality disorder based on
  1. Symptoms shown by the person
  2. A mental health exam comprises individual feelings, thoughts emotions.
  3. Individuals’ personal and medical history

People with ASPD do not believe that they need any treatment for this disorder due, to which the treatment of this disorder becomes difficult to manage.
Treatment depends from individual to individual. Such factors can be

  • It can be their willingness to participate and seek treatment.
  • Age
  • Their associated problems with alcohol and drug misuse
Treatments for ASPD include:
Talking therapy

Talking therapy or Cognitive behavioral therapy is used in the treatment of ASPD. It mainly focuses on changing a person’s thinking and behavior through proper counseling. This helps people to manage their control, substance abuse, violation, and breaking the norms in society.
Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is another type of talking therapy that helps in the treatment of APSD.


There is no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-improved medication specifically for antisocial personality disorder. Although medications are there to manage depression, aggression, or severe changes in mood.
some of them are:

  1. Antidepressants like sertraline and fluoxetine regulate serotonin levels.
  2. Medications like risperidone and quetiapine can help in controlling violent behaviors and aggression.
  3. There are certain medications or mood stabilizers that regulate the severe changes in mood like lithium and carbamazepine.
Democratic therapeutic communities

Research study suggests community-based programs can be very effective for people with ASPD for a longer period. This method is quite popular in prison, where prisoners would be able to share their problems with a group of people. This social therapy helps the person to address their emotional and psychological needs. Not only talking about emotional needs, this therapy also helps people to make changes and learn new skills.

One of the important aspects of this type of social therapy is the willingness to participate. Self-motivation plays an important role in this therapy. Acceptance of such types of therapies is crucial in this therapy.

Is it possible to prevent ASPD?

Antisocial personality disorder can be prevented if the conduct disorder is detected during childhood. Early diagnosis of this conduct can reduce the chances of getting ASPD as an adult.

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