Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD): Symptoms and Treatment

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder (ASP disorder) is a mental illness that usually becomes apparent during puberty stage, before the age of fifteen. 

Symptoms usually include antisocial behavior in which there is little concern for the rights of others such as indifference to the moral or legal standards of the region or community. 

Behavior patterns are usually includes excessive drinking of alcoholic drinks, fighting and irresponsibility. 

A key to the disorder is long lasting, manipulative, persistent, exploitive actions and manners that determinedly ignore others. 

For a diagnosis, some clinicians insist that the behavioral pattern be exhibited during childhood. 

There’s some clinicians believe that genetic makeup contributes to the cause of the disorder, but a detailed understanding of the cause remains elusive. 

In childhood, these individuals usually have Oppositional Defiant Disorder (towards parents and teachers) which develops into Conduct Disorder (delinquency) in adolescence. 

This delinquency takes the form of being a reckless thrill-seeking, physical violence (towards people or animals), and breaking the law. 

These individuals become the school bullies, vandals, thieves, and drug-dealers. 

Most adolescent delinquents grow out of this behavior as they enter adulthood stage. 

However, those that increase their delinquent behavior as they enter adulthood have their diagnosis changed from Conduct Disorder to Antisocial Personality Disorder. 

In adulthood, individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder become more antagonistic. 

They will show an exaggerated sense of self-importance, being insensitive towards the feelings and needs of others, and callous exploitation of others. 

Their increased manipulativeness, deceitfulness, callousness, and hostility repeatedly puts them at odds with other people. 

Causes of ASPD

Cause of antisocial personality disorder is not known. 

Genetic and environmental factors, such as child abuse, are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. 

People with an antisocial or alcoholic parents are at increased risk. More men are affected than women. 

The condition is common among people who are in prison.

Cruelty to animals and fire-setting during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality. 

Some doctors believe that psychopathic personality (psychopathy) is the same disorder. 

Others believe that psychopathy is a similar but more severe disorder. 

Symptoms of ASPD

Antisocial Personality Disorder is diagnosed when a person’s pattern of antisocial behavior has occurred since age 15 (although only adults 18 years or older can be diagnosed with this disorder) and consists of the majority of these symptoms: 

Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as:

  • repeatedly indicates performing acts that are  performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  • Deceitfulness, as indicated by lying repeatedly, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  • Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • Aggressiveness and irritability, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • Recklessly neglect for safety of self or others
  • Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  • Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Risk factors

Although the precise cause of antisocial personality disorder unknown, certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering it, including:

  • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Family history of ASPD or other personality disorders or mental illness
  • Being subjected to verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Chaotic or unstable family life during childhood
  • Loss of parents through traumatic divorce during childhood
  • History of substance abuse in parents or other family members
  • Men are at greater risk of having ASPD than women.


Complications, consequences and problems of antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Aggressiveness leading to violence through verbal or physical
  • Gang participation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Child abuse
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Gambling problems
  • Being in jail or prison
  • Homicidal or suicidal behaviors
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Occasional periods of depression or anxiety
  • School and work problems
  • Strained relationships with health care providers
  • Low social and economic status, and homelessness
  • Premature death, usually as a result of violence

Exams and Tests

Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of symptoms. 

To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must have had conduct disorder during childhood. 


Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. 

People with this condition rarely seek treatment on their own. 

They may only start therapy when required to by a court. 

Behavioral treatments, such as those that reward appropriate behavior and have negative consequences for illegal behavior, may hold the most promise. 

Certain forms of talk therapy are also being explored. 

Persons with antisocial personality who have other disorders, such as a mood or substance disorder, are often treated for those problems as well.