What is Antisocial Personality Disorder: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of ASPD

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a prolonged pattern of behavior and experience that impairs a person's way of thinking and behaving - toward others and with themselves.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is an Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a prolonged pattern of behavior and experience that impairs performance and causes distress.

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health disorder that affects a person's behaviors, feelings, and thoughts related to others. This disorder reaches the point of committing crimes against others.

People with ASPD can be witty, charming, and fun to be around -- but they also act rashly, destructively, and unsafely without feeling guilty when their actions hurt other people.

The pattern of disordered behavior in people with ASPD continues beyond the stage of adulthood, as sufferers of this disorder may carry out certain actions, on a continuous and repeated basis, that will ultimately lead, in many cases, to their arrest and imprisonment.

Antisocial personality disorder poses a major social challenge in the manner of dealing with this disease and in providing appropriate treatment for those affected.

Society is forced to deal with this disorder through law enforcement agencies (mainly the police and courts) in the absence of effective treatment, especially through criminal convictions, deportation, or imprisonment.

The beginnings of this disorder usually go back to childhood or the early stages of adolescence, and it continues into adulthood, and even beyond.

In general, a personality disorder is prevalent among people of the poor socio-economic classes, among those who live in large cities, and it is more common among men than among women. It is estimated that about 3% of men, in general, develop this disorder, compared to 1% of women.

With age, especially in the fourth decade of life, the severity of the disorder subsides. The most prominent expression of this is represented, first and foremost, by criminal behavior, which recedes a lot, and may even disappear completely, but it is possible that there will also be a decrease in other areas of anti-social behavior.

Although the exact cause of this disorder is not yet known, the role of genetics and exposure to childhood trauma cannot be ignored. Childhood trauma includes exposure to abuse of all kinds as well as exposure to neglect.

Epidemiological studies have shown that the biological relatives of people with this disorder are more likely to have this disorder than the general population.

People with this disorder often grow up in poor family circumstances. For example, one of the parents may be addicted to alcohol or drugs, and there may also be disagreements between the parents to the point of violence.

There are ways in which a personality disorder can be diagnosed, only from the age of 18 years and over, while disorders that appear before that age are defined as behavioral disorders in adolescents.

Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder

There is no specific cause for developing an antisocial personality disorder, but there are some factors and causes that lead to the development of personality disorder, namely:

  • ASPD is more common among the first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder.
  • ASPD is likely strongly linked to inheritance and environmental influences.
  • Being subjected to abuse, neglect, and trauma during childhood.
  • Growing up in difficult family circumstances.
  • Parents' quarrels and cruel behavior towards their children.
  • Unstable, violent, or chaotic family life during childhood.
  • Upbringing can have an important influence. 
  • Smoking during pregnancy and abnormal brain function.

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

People with antisocial personality disorder are prone, for example, to behaviors that include: damaging and destroying property, harassment, stealing, or engaging in other illegal concerns. They also ignore the desires, feelings, and rights of others.

They can act impulsively without planning their steps in advance and the results that might lead to it. Their actions and practices only aim at the immediate fulfillment of their needs, without thinking in advance and without any consideration of the consequences of their actions, whether on them personally or on others.

The characteristic behavioral features of this disorder relate to rapid and sudden changes in the workplace, place of residence or in the field of personal relationships.

Usually, people with this disorder tend to be nervous and aggressive, and are often involved in conflicts or quarrels. And they behave violently not only with strangers but with their spouses or children as well. This is because their use of force is not in self-defense or in defense of others.

Another feature of the behavior of people with this disorder is reckless and irresponsible driving (excessive speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, excessive involvement in traffic accidents). 

They also tend to engage in sexual behaviors without restrictions or boundaries, or abuse drugs, with the dire consequences that result from. They neglect their children and are unable to take care of their needs, which poses a real danger to them.

The behavior of these patients is characterized as irresponsible, absolutely and always. In the field of work, for example, they spend very long and continuous periods without work, as they refuse to work even if it is possible to obtain it, or they leave their work before arranging and ensuring alternative work. Often they are absent from their work, not specifically because of illness. They get into debt and neglect their family's affairs. 

When they are placed in the face of their actions and their consequences for others, they are indifferent and do not express any regret or remorse. Rather, they place the blame and responsibility on their victims or their relatives, accusing them of stupidity and helplessness. They also downplay the seriousness of their actions and do not show any willingness to compensate the victims.

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder can be summarized as follows:

  • Exploiting or manipulating others or violating their rights.
  • Lack of attention to other people's feelings and not showing signs of remorse after hurting someone else.
  • Blaming others forever.
  • Being irritable and aggressive.
  • Practicing irresponsible behavior.
  • Difficulty continuing relationships with others for a long time.
  • Inability to control anger.
  • Inability to learn from past mistakes.
  • Never feel guilty.
  • Failure to meet money, work, or social duties.
  • Not caring about the safety of others or themselves.
  • Difficulty continuing relationships with others for a long time.
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Repeatedly breaking the law.

Early Signs of Antisocial Behavior in Children

3 signs appear on children in childhood that make the psychiatrist admit that they have the disorder, namely:

1.The emergence of severe aggressive tendencies towards schoolmates.

2.The tendency to deviate, such as drinking narcotic drugs.

3. Frequent school absenteeism may indicate a disorder.

Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder

An antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat. The therapeutic methods adopted today have not yet proven their effectiveness and efficacy, which raises great pessimism among the professionals working in this field. The main problem is the lack of motivation to undergo and maintain a certain treatment.

It was previously believed that antisocial personality disorder persists with the sufferer throughout his life, but it was later found that this does not apply to all cases. There are some patients who have been treated successfully, or at least most of their symptoms have been controlled.

Evidence indicates that the pathological behavior associated with this disorder improves with treatment, even if some features of the disorder persist.

Some evidence indicates that antisocial personality disorder can be treated after a period of up to 18 months, even if some characteristics such as lack of empathy cannot be treated.

It is noteworthy that the sufferers of this disorder usually refuse to resort to treatment, and turn to it only in the event of a court order to do so.

How to treat this disorder depends on the person’s circumstances, taking into account other things, including his age, behavioral history, and the presence of other disorders or problems, including alcohol and drug addiction.

Usually, your doctor will try a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of available treatments in managing antisocial personality disorder symptoms.

Psychotherapy: A psychologist may recommend several types of psychotherapy based on your situation. 

Psychodynamic psychotherapy can increase awareness of unconscious thoughts and negative behaviors.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help reveal negative thoughts and behaviors.

Social therapy, using the "DTC" technique, meets the patient's emotional and psychological needs.

Medications: There are no medications specifically approved for treating antisocial personality disorder.

Your doctor may recommend that you stay in a mental health hospital where you can receive intensive treatment.

Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-psychotic medications.

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