Home > Diseases and Conditions > Antisocial personality disorder
  • We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information

PubMed Health. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Antisocial personality disorder

Sociopathic personality; Sociopathy; Personality disorder - antisocial

Last reviewed: November 10, 2012.

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown. Genetic factors and environmental factors, such as child abuse, are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. People with an antisocial or alcoholic parent are at increased risk. Far more men than women are affected. The condition is common among people who are in prison.

Fire-setting and cruelty to animals during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality.

Some doctors believe that psychopathic personality (psychopathy) is the same disorder. Others believe that psychopathic personality is a similar but more severe disorder.

Symptoms

A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

  • Be able to act witty and charming
  • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions
  • Break the law repeatedly
  • Disregard the safety of self and others
  • Have problems with substance abuse
  • Lie, steal, and fight often
  • Not show guilt or remorse
  • Often be angry or arrogant

Signs 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.

Treatment

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.

Expectations (prognosis)

Symptoms tend to peak during the late teenage years and early 20s. They sometimes improve on their own by a person's 40s.

Complications

Complications can include imprisonment, drug abuse, violence, and suicide.

Calling your health care provider

See your health care provider or a mental health professional you or someone you know has symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.

 

References

  1. Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.

Review Date: 11/10/2012.

Reviewed by: David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Psychological treatments for people with antisocial personality disorderPsychological treatments for people with antisocial personality disorder
    We considered 11 studies, but were unable to draw any firm conclusions from the evidence available. Although several studies looked at treatments to reduce drug or alcohol misuse in people with antisocial personality disorder, few studies focused on treating the disorder itself. Only three studies reported outcome measures that were originally defined in the review protocol as being of particular importance in this disorder (reconviction and aggression). Nonetheless, there was some evidence that a type of treatment known as contingency management (which provides rewards for progress in treatment) could help people with antisocial personality disorder to reduce their misuse of drugs or alcohol.
See all (2) ...

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...

Read More

MedlinePlus.gov links to free, reliable, up-to-date health information from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other trusted health organizations.

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...