Antisocial Personality Disorder

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder involves behavior that demonstrates a lack of respect for the rights of others and is marked by habitual boundary violations such as stealing, lying, fighting, complete disregard for laws and the feelings of others, and has manifested itself since the age of fifteen.

Antisocial personality disorder is also characterized by behavior that is clearly outside of what is considered normal behavior within society and includes a lack of remorse and a sense of responsibility for actions taken.  Antisocial personality disorder involves a history of crime, legal problems, frequent imprisonment; impulsive and  aggressive behavior, a lack of conscience, and the unwillingness or inability to adjust to social norms.

What are the Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Alcohol and drug consumption can exacerbate symptoms.

Symptoms include

Involvement in illegal activities, unnecessary risk taking, not being able to tolerate boredom, anger issues, being very good at flattery and manipulation, sexual irresponsibility, substance abuse issues, impulsiveness, involvement in physical altercations, rationalizing bad behavior, recklessness, problems with intimacy, dysphoria, feeling like a victim, difficulty performing well on the job, academic failure, total lack of regard for the feelings, rights, and suffering of others as well as an inflated sense of self worth.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Causes

Antisocial personality disorder is generally believed to be caused by a combination of both genetics and environmental factors. It is known that the children of those who have antisocial personality disorder are more likely to have the condition themselves. Certain genes have also been identified which likely play a role in the development of antisocial personality disorder. MAOA, a gene that influences the breakdown of adrenal hormones, and DDR4, a gene that influences the production of dopamine and the stimulation of dopamine receptors.

Although genetics certainly play a prominent role in the development of antisocial personality disorder, it is clear that environment plays a role as well. Only 40% of the prevalence of antisocial personality disorder can be explained by genetics. Environment accounts for the majority of the factors behind antisocial personality disorder. Childhood abuse and social isolation are also known to play major roles in the development of antisocial personality disorder as persons with antisocial personality disorder tend to experience abuse at higher rates. Neglect is another life experience which is known to play a role as well.

How is Antisocial Personality Disorder Treated?


Treatment of antisocial personality disorder is very difficult and involves long-term therapy with a therapist who specializes in treating this type of mental problem.

Psychotherapy is not always successful (especially if symptoms are particularly severe) but is used to address issues such as substance abuse, anger, and impulsiveness.


No research exists that suggests that any medication is effective in treating antisocial personality disorder. Doctors will generally prescribe medications to mitigate symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, and depression that are commonly associated with this mental health condition.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Prevention

Although many people believe that antisocial personality disorder is something you are born with, it is possible to prevent the development of ASPD in children with the right approach. Specifically, people can prevent antisocial personality disorder from occurring in minors by doing the best they can to love their children. Children who have loving homes and parents involved in their lives have much lower rates of antisocial personality disorder. Additionally, efforts to combat drug and alcohol addiction can prevent the onset of ASPD. Patients with this disease are known to have much higher rates of addiction in general. Doing everything we can to stem that is paramount to prevention. Although the children of ASPD patients are more likely to develop the disorder, they are not inherently doomed to develop ASPD if precautions are taken.

Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
November 08, 2017