Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder is seen in people who lose track of the importance of social norms, such as the laws and the rights of other individuals. This disorder is most often seen in men and is characterized by a callous disregard for the rights and feelings of others. Individuals with this disorder exploit others for material gain or personal gratification. Generally, antisocial personality can be detected from 18 years of age, however, it is estimated that many of the symptoms and signs have been developing since adolescence. Before age 15, people may develop serious behavioral problems that often have dire consequences at home and other social environments.

One of the most common signs in a person with antisocial personality is a lack of empathy, or the ability to recognize or identify what another person is feeling. Individuals with this disorder often lack remorse or accountability for their actions. This characteristic may be combined with sociability, assertiveness, emotional expressiveness, excitability, high levels of impulsivity, and the dehumanization of a victim.

No one knows exactly the reasons why a person may develop this disorder. However, it is believed to be linked to several factors. There may be a genetic component, increasing risk factors for the disorder among those with close relatives who have it. However, the environment in which a person lives, especially that of the immediate family, may also contribute to its development. Many professionals also believe that there are biological factors that may contribute to its progress. The presence of certain chemicals in the central nervous system and possible damage to parts of the brain that are related to decision-making can generate aggressive behavior in an individual. Drug and alcohol abuse can also contribute to a person’s development of antisocial personality.

Very often it is difficult to provide treatment to these individuals because they live in constant denial and almost never admit or recognize that they are facing a problem that must be addressed. Sometimes the intervention of a family member, friend, or mental health professional can help a person accept that they have a problem. Other times a court order requires a person to receive treatment. Many types of therapy can help improve a patient’s condition. Group therapy can be instrumental in helping a person understand that they can interact with others without violence or contempt. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help change problematic patterns of thinking and encourage positive behaviors.

Sometimes medicine is used to combat specific symptoms such as aggressiveness and irritability. These drugs are known as “anti-psychotics” and can be helpful in treating this disorder. It appears that Antisocial Personality Disorder is a chronic disease; however, symptoms such as criminal behavior may decline over time with appropriate treatment.

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