Antisocial personality disorder is known as a chronic mental health condition, sometimes known as sociopathic personality disorder or sociopathy. It’s characterized by a pattern of manipulation, exploiting other people and exhibiting criminal behavior. Individuals who have antisocial personality disorder typically have legal difficulties, impulsive behaviors and a criminal history.
Statistics for Antisocial Personality Disorder
1. As much as 3.6 percent of adults in the United States, equal to about 7.6 million, have antisocial personality disorder. The disorder is known to affect men more than women.
2. According to DSM-IV, the prevalence of antisocial personality disorder in the United States population is spread between about 3 percent of adult males and 1 percent of adult females.
3. As much as 3 to 30 percent of psychiatric outpatients have antisocial personality disorder.
4. As mentioned, antisocial personality disorder is more common in males.
5. Research studies have suggested that individuals with antisocial personality disorder have exhibited behaviors associated with the disorder before age 15.
6. According to the National Comorbidity Survey and DSM-III-R criteria, as much as 5.8 percent of males and 1.2 percent of females have antisocial personality disorder for life.
7. United States prisons are known to host a high percentage of psychopaths and sociopaths.
8. As much as 80 percent of male prison inmates were shown to exhibit signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.
9. As much as 65 percent of imprisoned women are sociopaths.
10. The number of people with antisocial personality disorder is much higher in prison populations where they’ve committed a greater number of violations.
11. The prevalence of antisocial personality disorder is higher in treatment programs where patients are abusers of drugs or alcohol.
12. According to research by David Korten, a high percentage of people who are CEOs of high ranking companies or businesses exhibit symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.
13. Some studies suggest home and/or social environments play a large role in the development of antisocial behaviors, which may lead to antisocial personality disorder.
14. People with antisocial personality disorder are more likely than others to have experienced some form of child abuse.
Understanding the Disorder
According to the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a ‘pervasive pattern of disregard, and violation, of the rights of other people, which often begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues directly into adulthood.’ antisocial personality disorder is also classified under the ‘dramatic/erratic’ cluster of personality disorders.
People with antisocial personality disorder exhibit traits that express their disregard for social norms and laws, including compulsive lying, placing others at risk for their own benefit and demonstrating a lack of remorse for their actions.
Characteristics of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Again, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) provides the following criteria that allows doctors to formally diagnose antisocial personality disorder:
1. Pervasive pattern of disregard and violation of others’ rights since age 15.
2. The individual is at least 18 years old.
3. Evidence of a conduct disorder, with an onset before age 15, is evident in the patient.
4. The occurrence of any antisocial behaviors aren’t exclusive to a manic or schizophrenic episode.
Although those factors allow doctors to make a diagnosis, patients or family members of patients are encouraged to visit a mental health specialist for a professional diagnosis.
Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder has no known causes. Many mental health resources speculate genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development of antisocial personality disorder.
One of these factors is child abuse, which many resources believe is a contributing factor to the development of antisocial personality disorder. A hormonal imbalance, prison containment and having alcoholic family members are also contributing factors to the development of this disorder.
Some cases of antisocial personality disorder originate from traumatic childhood events, including a divorce between parents or a chaotic family life. Some people develop the disorder if they have family members who have developed symptoms of this disorder.
It’s also believed that antisocial disorder isn’t the direct cause of a single factor and, rather, a combination of different factors.
Symptoms and Signs
There are certain traits that people with antisocial personality disorder exhibit, typically indicating whether they have the condition or not. The most common signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include:
1. Aggressive and/or violent behavior.
2. Manipulating others, often by exhibiting witty or charming appeal.
3. Repeatedly showing disregard for the rights of others.
4. Has experienced child abuse, neglect or other abusive/poor relationships.
5. Exhibits impulsive behavior.
6. Exhibits irresponsible work behaviors.
7. Shows a complete disregard for right or wrong morality.
8. Oftentimes suffers from ongoing legal difficulties.
People who have exhibited these signs and symptoms are recommended to seek medical and/or professional help to receive appropriate treatment for antisocial personality disorder.
Effects of Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder often affects people’s lives in a debilitating and damaging way. The disorder often threatens a person’s physical well-being, social life and mental health. If these effects aren’t treated with professional help, people with antisocial personality disorder often become ‘trapped’ by the symptoms of the mental disorder.
This disorder causes sufferers to engage in behaviors that may endanger their lives or the lives of other people. These effects include:
2. Suicidal behavior
3. Bodily damage, often resulting from physical assaults and/or aggressiveness
4. Impulsive or reckless accidents that may result in injury or death
5. Unsafe sexual behaviors
This disorder also causes the sufferer to experience various psychological disturbances, which often alter their mental health if left untreated. These effects include:
1. Mood instability and/or extremes.
2. Severe depression and/or manic episodes.
3. Dysregulation of emotions and/or emotional outbursts.
4. Anxiety or panic attacks.
5. Suicidal ideations.
6. Aggressive outbursts.
7. Social effects.
Antisocial personality disorder notably impacts how sufferers relate to others in a social setting. The effects include:
1. An inability to start or maintain relationships.
2. Isolation from others, often due to aggressive or manipulative behaviors.
3. Damaged relationships, due to destructive behaviors.
4. Familial or marital conflicts.
5. Decreased performance in work and/or school.
Antisocial personality disorder has been studied by many mental health resources, mainly to shed some light about the prevalence of the mental disorder. The statistics in the following section depict data gathered from studies, research trials and observations about antisocial personality disorder in people.
Antisocial personality disorder is actually considered one of the most difficult personality disorders to effectively treat. Despite that, various mental health professionals have developed treatment options to help people with antisocial personality disorder make a recovery.
Some people with antisocial personality disorder may need to get treatment for other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression or disorders related to substance use.
Psychotherapy is used in antisocial personality disorder treatment, though it’s not as effective when used with people who have severe antisocial personality disorder. It’s usually provided in individual sessions. Sometimes, psychotherapy sessions turn into group therapy sessions that involve family or even friends of the patient.
Medications are also used in antisocial personality disorder treatment. There are, however, no specific FDA-approved medications used to treat antisocial personality disorder.
Several types of psychiatric medications are used to treat conditions associated with antisocial personality disorder or other symptoms like aggression. These medications often include antidepressants, anti-psychotics or other mood-stabilizing medications.