Antisocial personality disorder or ASPD is a particular type of complicated personality disorder which may lead to reckless, impulsive and even criminal behavior.
What is antisocial personality disorder?
Also known as sociopathy, ASPD is a chronic mental condition characterized by disregard for what is morally and ethically right or wrong. A sociopath may have no regard for the feelings and rights of other people. They tend to violate, exploit and manipulate others without any regret. A 2019 study defines ASPD as “a deeply ingrained and rigid dysfunctional thought process that focuses on social irresponsibility with exploitive, delinquent, and criminal behavior with no remorse.”
This mental condition is also known as psychopathic personality and dyssocial personality. People with this disorder are often unable to build long term and stable relationships and incapable of maintaining consistent employment. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “manifestations include repeated violations of the law, exploitation of others, deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness, reckless disregard for the safety of self and others, and irresponsibility, accompanied by lack of guilt, remorse, and empathy.”
Read also: 20 Characteristics of a Con Man Sociopath
According to a study published in Alcohol Research and Health, around 1% of women and 3% men tend to suffer from antisocial personality disorder. This mental disorder generally develops during “childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood,” according to Healthline. One 2015 study by Donald W Black, MD found that “ASPD begins early in life, usually by age 8 years. Diagnosed as conduct disorder in childhood, the diagnosis converts to ASPD at age 18 if antisocial behaviours have persisted.”
Individuals with this disorder are prone to violating the law and engaging in criminal activities. They also tend to be violent, impulsive, suffer from alcohol and drug addiction and be compulsive liars as well. As a result of their reckless behavior, they put others at risk and have difficulties fulfilling responsibilities. They can also have suicidal tendencies.
However, sociopaths can be charming on the surface, even though they are aggressive and irritable deep down. According to WebMD, people with ASPD “can be witty, charming, and fun to be around – but they also lie and exploit others. ASPD makes people uncaring. Someone with the disorder may act rashly, destructively, and unsafely without feeling guilty when their actions hurt other people.” As they are highly manipulative, it can be often difficult for others to know if they are telling the truth or lying.
Causes of antisocial personality disorder
Although the exact reasons for this disorder are still unknown, both genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a crucial role. According to Psychology Today, genetic (inherited) or biological factors can lead to this mental condition as “the incidence of antisocial behavior is higher in people with a biological parent who displays antisocial characteristics.” Environmental factors like a chaotic family, lack of support, lack of positive reinforcement can also influence the development of ASPD. Moreover, if you have a role model or idol who displays sociopathic tendencies, then it is likely that you may also become a sociopath.
Any individual, both male and female, can develop antisocial personality disorder if they:
- Experienced abuse and trauma during their childhood
- Had parents with ASPD
- Were raised by parents suffering from alcohol and drug problems
- Were raised by parents who were violent and engaged in criminal activities
Apart from these, ASPD can also develop due to our brain anatomy as well. According to Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School, “The frontal lobe, the area of the brain that governs judgment and planning, also appears to be different in people with antisocial personality disorder. Some researchers have found changes in the volume of brain structures that mediate violent behavior.” Although neurobiologists can’t be certain that brain function can actually cause ASPD, it does lead to problems in managing impulses and aggressive behavior.