Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition where a person shows little or no empathy for others and ignores their rights or feelings.  They can lie, cheat, exploit and manipulate people and show very little or no remorse or guilt for their actions. 

Often insensitive with both their words and actions, they can be antagonistic and aggressive which can lead to them being destructive and physically violent.  They might act rashly not caring if they put themselves or others in danger.  However they can also be fun to be around when they chose to be, even deceptively charismatic, charming and witty as they are cunning and deceitful by nature.


As with many mental health conditions and personality disorders, there is no known cause for antisocial personality disorder,  although it’s believed that several things can be contributory factors in its development.  A history of antisocial personality disorder in close family members, childhood abuse, neglect or having suffered trauma can all be factors.

Symptoms and Personality Traits

·      Show a lack of empathy for other people

·      Have no regard for right and wrong

·      Are impulsive and rarely plan ahead

·      Are very arrogant

·      Lack remorse or feelings of guilt when their actions hurt others

·      Cynical

·      Lie compulsively

·      Think nothing about deceiving or exploiting people to get what they want

·      Shows disregard for other people

·      Callousness

·      Have a sense of superiority

·      Are very opiniated

·      Use charm and wit to manipulate people for pleasure or personal gain

·      Often have poor or abusive relationships and are more likely to mistreat or neglect their children

·      Display irritability and aggression that can lead to physical violence

·      Are prone to breaking the law and getting into trouble because of criminal behaviour

·      Fail to learn from the negative consequences of their behaviours

·      Take unnecessary risks often putting themselves or others in dangerous situations


Typically adults who have antisocial personality disorder will show symptoms of antisocial behaviour before the age of fifteen, this can include problems at school, like destruction of property, aggression or theft.  Over time these behaviours can decrease, it’s still not clear whether this is because of the ageing process or the realisation of the consequences of their actions.

Although rarely diagnosed before the age of 18 identifying the disorder early can help improve long-term outcomes.  It is typically diagnosed by a psychological assessment after any possible medical conditions have been ruled out.  Antisocial personality disorder is a lifelong condition but an early diagnosis and treatment can help manage symptoms. 


Whilst there are no specific medications for antisocial personality disorder your doctor can prescribe medications for associated conditions such as antianxiety medication or antidepressants, in severe cases they may prescribe antipsychotics.  SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are sometimes prescribed to help with aggression and impulsive behaviour.

Your doctor can refer you to a therapist who can help you with talking therapies like psychotherapy, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and MBT (mentalisation-based therapy) which can prove helpful.  Written by Jan, Jeana and Wendy at Barnsley Hypnosis and Counselling (UK).  For more free information click above link.

Related Posts