Symptoms and Signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Most people believe that, together with a disdain for other people's rights, the defining feature of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is the lack of empathy.

However, it is controversial as to whether these and other antisocial personality disorder characteristics are inherited or if a person develops them as a result of their upbringing when they are young. The most likely explanation is that a combination of these elements is responsible for the majority of events.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain reveal differences between the brains of persons with antisocial personality disorder and those without personality problems.

For instance, the areas of the brain linked to attention, self-regulation, self-control, and conflict resolution have shown changes in the quantities of grey and white matter. People with antisocial personality disorder exhibit aberrant network architecture and impaired connection between several brain areas, according to brain scans. But as of yet, it is unknown what causes these variations.

Many Psychiatric Association does not use the term "sociopath" to characterize people with antisocial personality disorder, despite the fact that this term is frequently used to refer to them in popular culture.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Characteristics of Sufferers

Patients with antisocial personality disorder are expert manipulators who frequently succeed in fooling others. They are also kind, funny, smart, and skilled at complementing others. With this flattery, they may attempt to manipulate other people's emotions.

Arrogance and an overinflated feeling of self-confidence can also be present in people with an antisocial personality disorder. They disregard everyone else's safety and possibly even their own. A person with this antisocial personality disorder may regularly steal and initiate fights in addition to lying. They could even find enjoyment in seeing other people suffer hurt or misery. They might also struggle with substance abuse.

There is currently no recognized explanation for why men are far more frequently diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder than women. According to two studies, 0.8% of women are thought to have an antisocial personality disorder, compared to approx. 5.2 or 7% of men.

Antisocial personality disorder symptoms may lessen with age, especially around the forties. However, this decline does not imply that the ailment will necessarily disappear. Older persons may exhibit it differently, or those with it may develop better social concealment skills as they age. A decline in their mental, emotional, or physical health could also result from the lifetime of effort they spent challenging societal norms and possibly participating in harmful behavior.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Risk Factors

Even though the cause of the condition is unknown, researchers have identified traits that raise a person's chance of developing it. The following risk factors may put someone at a higher risk −

  • Abuse of children in the past

  • A parent who uses drugs or drinks excessively

  • Antisocial personality disorder in a parent

  • Family strife

  • Genetic changes

  • Poverty

  • Childhood abuse

  • Extended amounts of time spent as a youngster institutionalized or in orphanages

Antisocial Personality Disorder's Early Symptoms

Conduct disorder is often diagnosed when antisocial personality disorder signs develop before the age of 18. Even if a person is not diagnosed with conduct disorder, several behaviors from childhood or adolescence are connected to a later diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder.

A person with an antisocial personality disorder may exhibit any of the following behaviors before reaching 18 −

  • Animal abuse

  • Intentionally starting fires

  • Abuse or dependency on drugs or alcohol

  • Frequently breaching the law or school regulations without a good cause

  • Harsh or cruel conduct toward others

  • Harassing others or fighting

  • Requiring people to perform sexual acts

  • Stealing

  • Employing weapons

  • Early school abandonment

  • Lying to benefit oneself

  • Escaping from home

  • Vandalism and damage to property

  • Mood changes

  • Being victimized by bullying

  • Not being able to make friends or keep intimate connections

  • Poor academic performance

Are the symptoms of ASPD and antisocial behavior different?

The term "antisocial" may be used in everyday speech to describe someone who dislikes socializing, but in psychiatric terminology, it has a different meaning.

These people are better categorized as asocial, which means that they avoid social interactions and may even isolate themselves due to their fear and lack of confidence in themselves.

Typical Actions of People with Antisocial Personality Disorder

If a mental health expert has not diagnosed someone with ASPD, it should not be presumed that they have it. However, if a person repeatedly harms people without expressing any regret or sorrow for their actions, it is possible to determine whether they are more likely to have the illness.

An antisocial personality disorder is characterized by the following typical or potential behaviors, but exhibiting one or more of these characteristics does not always suggest that a person has the disorder −

  • Frequently lying, deceiving, or misleading others.

  • Impulsive behavior

  • Acting in a dangerous manner that could endanger themselves or other people, such as driving carelessly and speeding a lot

  • Using flattery to gain an advantage

  • Intentionally causing another person's physical or mental hurt

  • Regularly starting or participating in fights

  • Refusing to fulfill obligations related to money, family, or work

  • Violating social norms or rules in places of business that are public or private

  • Breaking the law, perhaps to get what they desire or just for fun

  • Deciding something without thinking about whether it would hurt other people

  • Assaulting someone physically or sexually

  • Trying to manipulate, gaslight, or otherwise control others.

  • Regularly inflating stories, especially to enhance one's own appearance

  • Whether the insult is genuine or imagined, seeking retaliation for perceived wrongs committed against them

  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, illicit drugs, or other drugs

  • Taking pleasure in someone else's misfortune

  • Refusing to acknowledge sensible personal restrictions

What are the Clinical Tests and Recommended Treatments?

ASPD cannot be diagnosed by a blood test or imaging examination. A medical professional will review your medical history, do a physical examination, and evaluate your symptoms.

You might visit a medical professional with expertise in mental health issues. Your behavior is evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. They search for trends in −

  • Disregard for other people's rights.

  • Rash decisions are made without consideration for the repercussions.

  • Hazardous or careless behavior

Treatment for ASPD takes many different forms. But with the use of treatments like medicine or psychotherapy, such habits could be under check. Studies show that symptoms of ASPD tend to worsen between the ages of 24 and 44 before improving beyond that.

Medicated Treatment

Medication typically only benefits ASPD sufferers who also exhibit violence, sadness, or unstable moods. Your doctor might advise you to −

  • Antidepressants control the amounts of serotonin in your brain. Sertraline and fluoxetine are two examples.

  • Antipsychotics, can restrain aggressive or violent behavior. Examples include quetiapine and risperidone.

  • Mood stabilizers, which aid in controlling abrupt changes in behavior or mood. Examples include carbamazepine and lithium.


People with ASPD act without considering how their actions would affect others. A person with ASPD might disobey the law. They frequently don't apologize or accept blame. Persons with ASPD may benefit from psychotherapy and specific drugs. They might be able to manage their thoughts and actions with treatment. To diagnose ASPD, medical professionals, including psychiatrists and psychologists, conduct in-depth evaluations. They are able to suggest the best course of action.

Updated on: 03-Feb-2023


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