Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD)
Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a mental health condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and relates to others. People with ASPD have a pattern of disregard for the rights, feelings, and well-being of others. They may lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, or harm others without remorse or empathy. They may also have difficulty following rules, laws, or social norms. ASPD is not the same as being antisocial, which means avoiding social contact or preferring solitude. ASPD is a serious and chronic disorder that can cause significant problems in personal, professional, and social domains.
Here are some key facts about this disorder:
What Are the Symptoms?
People with ASPD often exhibit a lack of empathy and remorse, repeatedly lying, cheating or exploiting others for personal gain, being indifferent or rationalizing the harm they cause to others, being irresponsible and unreliable in work, school or family obligations..
Other common symptoms include:
- Recurring problems following the law
- Lying, stealing and physical aggression
- Risk-taking or dangerous behaviors
- inability to form lasting relationships
- Poor control over actions and impulsive behavior
Those with ASPD may blame others for the consequences of their actions and show little regard for the feelings and wellbeing of others.
What Causes ASPD?
The exact cause of ASPD is unknown, but genetics and environment likely both play a role.
In most cases, we find at least one of the following factors, and there may be more than one reason in the same case, or they are all present in specific proportions.
Risk factors can be:
- Brain conditions that impact function in areas related to empathy and decision making
- A difficult or abusive childhood, or Experiencing abuse, neglect, or trauma in childhood
- Experiencing abuse, neglect, or trauma in childhood
- Having conduct disorder or other behavioral problems as a child or adolescent
- Living in an unstable or chaotic family or social environment
- Exposure to criminal parents or peers during upbringing or having a family history of mental disorders, especially ASPD or other personality disorders
Most cases of ASPD surface during teen years, so environmental influences during youth development are especially important.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Diagnosing ASPD requires comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. So that the treatment steps are thoughtful and logical, based on a scientific methodology that is able to give us tangible and effective results.
A diagnosis is made based on:
- A clinical interview to assess behavioral patterns
- Gathering information from family and friends
- Examining how symptoms impact daily life and relationships
Diagnosis requires symptoms begin before age 15 and persist into adulthood. Not everyone with legal violations or risk-taking behaviors has ASPD. Only a medical expert can make a formal diagnosis.
What Are Treatments?
Though ASPD has no cure, several treatment options may help manage symptoms:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can improve decision making and coping skills.
- Dialectical behavior therapy targets impulsivity and teaches emotional regulation.
- Group therapy gives insight into behavior’s impact and how to improve relationships.
- Medications are not yet proven effective but may treat associated conditions like anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
- Inpatient treatment and rehabilitation programs exist for severe cases involving criminal behavior.
However, ASPD is difficult to treat. Many individuals do not seek treatment and show little interest in changing their disruptive behavior.
Antisocial personality disorder involves a disregard for others that brings disruption to personal and professional life. Though no quick fixes exist, interventions focused on improving thinking patterns, skills and relationships may reduce symptoms and behavior problems over time. For severe cases, inpatient rehabilitation may be needed.
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