Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are antisocial personality disorder symptoms and signs?

To understand antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or APD), it is necessary to learn what having any personality disorder involves. As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-V, 2013), a personality disorder (PD) is a consistent, enduring pattern of inner experiences and behaviors that is significantly different from what is thought to be normal within the individual's own culture.

Mental-health professionals group personality disorders based on a commonality of symptoms.

Cluster A personality disorders are those that include symptoms of social isolation, and/or strange, eccentric behavior. These disorders include

Cluster B personality disorders are those that involve dramatic or erratic behaviors (counter-social behaviors). These personality disorders include

Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by difficulties with anxiety and inhibited behavior. These disorders include

  • avoidant personality disorder,
  • dependent personality disorder,
  • obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCD).

Antisocial personality disorder is specifically a persistent pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others. Diagnostic criteria for this disorder state that this pattern must include at least three of the following specific signs and symptoms:

  • Repeatedly breaking laws, as evidenced by repeatedly engaging in behaviors that are grounds for arrest
  • Repeated deceitfulness in relationships with others, such as telling lies, using false names, or conning others for profit or pleasure
  • Failure to think or plan ahead (impulsivity)
  • Tendency to irritability, hostility, anger, and aggressiveness, as shown by repeatedly assaulting others or getting into frequent physical fights
  • Disregard for their own safety or the safety of others, such that they have a lack of restraint in their behavior
  • Persistent lack of taking responsibility, such as failing to establish a pattern of good work habits or keeping financial obligations
  • A disregard for other people such that there is a lack of feeling guilty about wrong-doing

Other important characteristics of this disorder include that it is not diagnosed in children (individuals younger than 18 years of age), but the affected person must have shown symptoms of this diagnosis (conduct disorder) at least since 15 years of age. Additionally, it cannot be diagnosed if the person only shows symptoms of antisocial personality disorder at the same time they are suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia or when having a manic episode. This disorder tends to occur in about 1% of women and 3% of men in the United States. Antisocial personality symptoms in women tend to include self-harm and more of the other symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) than in men.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/16/2016

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