So it's still Mental Health Awareness month, and according to my poll a lot of you wanted to know a bit more about Antisocial Personality Disorder. (I'm actually in the same boat haha, I'm very curious about ASPD and loved doing this research!) (Excuse the abbreviated title, the w
hole thing w
as too long)Disclaimer: I do not have Antisocial Personality Disorder, so some of the stuff I say might be unintentionally hurtful or inaccurate - if you want to make any corrections, or just contribute anything at all to this, please let me know in comments or notes! Any edits requested will be left anonymous unless you ask to be identified
What Is Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Antisocial Personality Disorder (or ASPD), also known as sociopathy, is a Cluster B personality disorder. It is characterised by a long-standing pattern of low
empathy leading to a continuous disregard for others' rights. People w
ith ASPD may repeatedly break the law, become violent or have exploitative sexual relationships. They can also display a certain amount of charm and glibness and are often referred to as manipulative or cocky.
- disregard for morals
- persistent deceit in order to exploit others
- callousness or cynicism
- arrogance or a tendency to be opinionated
- recurring problems with the law
- hostility, irritability or violence
- lack of empathy/remorse
- unnecessary risk-taking behaviours
- consistent irresponsibility
Many adults with ASPD display symptoms of conduct disorders before the age of 15 and until recently this was one of the necessary criteria for a diagnosis. ASPD is thought be caused by a combination of genetic factors and social factors - children with antisocial role models may be more likely to develop ASPD themselves. Traumatic childhoods are also common in those with ASPD.
What Does Treatment Involve?
Many individuals with ASPD do not seek out treatment, as often they do not see the disorder as interfering with their lives. However, ongoing psychotherapy may help manage the symptoms, and anti-psychotic or antidepressant medication may be taken to reduce particularly troubling symptoms.
What Are Some Myths About Antisocial Personality Disorder?
- Everyone with ASPD is violent or physically dangerous
This is obviously a very sweeping generalization. ASPD does not automatically mean a person will be violent, and if someone is violent it does not automatically mean they have ASPD. For those of you who know Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock himself is professed to be a high-functioning sociopath. There is nothing to suggest that people with ASPD can't and do not contribute beneficially to society.
- ASPD is untreatable
Not a lot of research has been done in this area, but antipsychotic medications have indeed been proven to reduce aggressiveness.
- People with ASPD are insane
Far from it. On its own, ASPD does not cause hallucinations or delusions, which are key symptoms of psychosis. The belief likely stems from the similarity beteen 'psychopath' and 'psychosis' (though people with ASPD are not necessarily psychopaths - another myth in itself).
- People with ASPD cannot feel love or emotions
This certainly isn't true - people with ASPD are capable of feeling love, though it isn't as strong as those without the disorder. It also tends to be more temporary. They are also capable of feeling the full range of emotions, but are simply less likely to show it.
Although Antisocial Personality Disorder seems like a 'scary' diagnosis and there is certainly a lot of stigma attached, those with the disorder are still human and are definitely still deserving of our respect and acceptance