Although it has gained substantial traction in the media and interpersonal discourse over the years, antisocial personality disorder or ASPD is frequently misunderstood, and often misrepresented in media, especially television. At first glance, the word “antisocial” may seem to indicate that this disorder refers to someone who is shy, quiet, not talkative, and tends to retreat from social settings or groups of people as a result. In reality, though, someone with ASPD may isolate or retreat from groups in some cases, though many people with ASPD interact with others in witty or charming ways to get what they want. This is something that many people may not realize when they first hear the name of the disorder. With this in mind, you might wonder, “what exactly is antisocial personality disorder?”
Today, we will answer the question, “what is ASPD?” and talk about how it’s diagnosed and treated, as well as how to find support if you think you or someone you know may have antisocial personality disorder, or ASPD.
What Is ASPD?
Antisocial personality disorder or ASPD is one out of four Cluster B personality disorders that appear in the fifth edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders or DSM. Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by ongoing patterns of disregard, exploitation, or violation of the rights of others. People with antisocial personality disorder often lie, manipulate, or deceive other people without remorse and do not follow social norms. It is common for people with antisocial personality disorder to face trouble with the law.
Symptoms of ASPD may include but are not limited to:
- Manipulative behavior – i.e., making others believe something untrue, making it easier for the manipulator to get what they want
- The exploitation of other people – asking for others to do extra work for them, cover for them, lie for them, or even give them things
- Lying or deceptiveness.
- Lack of empathy or regard for others – not caring if someone is injured, emotionally hurt, or otherwise bothered by something they do
- Impulsivity or reckless behavior – displaying a general disregard for the safety and security of strangers, acquaintances, close friends and family, and sometimes even themselves
- Aggression, anger, and hostility – lashing out, yelling, being easily angered and seemingly overreacting or reacting intensely
- Irritability – easily inconvenienced or bothered
- Difficulty fulfilling financial, social, work-related, or other obligations – many times because they see no value in keeping promises, fulfilling their word, or performing any kind of societal duties or expectations
It’s common for people with an antisocial personality disorder to have comorbid concerns or diagnoses such as substance use disorders, gambling, depression, and more. These can mask antisocial personality disorder, making it difficult for medical professionals or those close to the individual to notice and intervene. Many people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, or ASPD, have a comorbid or co-occurring mental health condition.
Diagnosis And Treatment
Here are some facts about the diagnosis and treatment of antisocial personality disorder:
- Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder must not be better explained by episodes or symptoms caused by another mental health condition, meaning that the symptoms must stand alone. If they cannot be attributed to a separate health condition, there is a chance for a diagnosis.
- Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are seen early in life, and people with antisocial personality disorder typically meet the criteria for conduct disorder as a child, though not all are diagnosed. Early childhood can be a stressful and overwhelming time for many parents, who know that many children grow out of abnormal behaviors or symptoms. Often, this causes mental health issues such as antisocial personality disorder to be overlooked, and not diagnosed.
- If a child is diagnosed with conduct disorder and symptoms are still present at age 18, then the diagnosis will be converted to ASPD. Since children go through lots of change and development, disorders are not always diagnosed until after age 18.
- Many people with antisocial personality disorder do not ever seek help, and may never want to or feel the need to. If early intervention occurs, or if someone is dedicated to receiving help, treatment for ASPD is available, though the person with antisocial personality disorder must willingly participate in treatment and want to change for the treatment to be effective.
- It is said that antisocial personality disorder is seen in roughly 2% to 4% of men and 0.5% to 1% of women. At this point in time, researchers and clinicians are not entirely sure why there is a gender discrepancy with this diagnosis.
Like with other mental health conditions or disorders, a formal diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder can only be provided by a qualified medical or mental health professional such as a psychiatrist. If you have a mental health condition or think that you might, it is imperative to see a medical or mental health professional who can help. Since symptoms seen in those with personality disorders can also double as a symptom seen in other disorders, getting a thorough professional opinion is essential when it comes to diagnosis.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re struggling with symptoms of a mental health condition, interpersonal relationships, stress related to work, school, and other areas of life, familial issues, or something else, seeing a therapist or counselor can help. There are many ways to find a therapist or counselor. You can talk to your doctor and ask for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, or use a website to find a licensed mental health professional who provides therapy near you. Check here to find out all you need. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support that you need, so do not hesitate to reach out and take the first step.