Understanding Antisocial Personality Disorder
Popular media often refers to people with antisocial personality disorder as “sociopaths.” Furthermore, characters with this disorder are often serial killers. While people with this condition often commit crimes, there is more to antisocial personality disorder than meets the eye.
Breaking the stigma around mental health is important when it comes to all disorders, including this one. Spreading awareness about what antisocial personality disorder really is can help people who exhibit symptoms seek treatment. Furthermore, personality disorders also affect the people around the patient. Awareness can help these people understand what happened to them and start the healing process.
What Are the Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Antisocial personality disorder is often characterized by a lack of empathy for others and remorse for wrongdoings. Other symptoms of this disorder include:
- Understanding but disregarding right and wrong
- Irresponsibility at work and with finances
- Often lying and deceiving others
- Inability to learn from consequences of their actions
- Being callous toward others
- Risky behaviors with no care for their own safety or that of others
- Sense of superiority
- Criminal, sometimes violent behavior
- Frequent hostility and aggression
As with other personality disorders, these symptoms affect the patients as well as those who surround them. They may perpetuate abuse and violence against others. Victims should seek help coping with what happened to them. Even without abuse, people with this disorder can be cold and callous, leaving others feeling uneasy.
Do People with This Disorder Show Early Signs?
Antisocial personality disorder is a diagnosis that is typically reserved for adults. In childhood, most people who eventually receive this diagnosis show signs of conduct disorder, including:
- Theft and destruction of property
- Aggression and harm toward other people
- Hurting animals
- Deceiving others
- Frequently violating school and family rules in serious ways
Sometimes, children with conduct disorder receive an official diagnosis. However, they often show the symptoms without ever getting the diagnosis. Either way, people under the age of 15 who show the symptoms of conduct disorder are more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder than their peers, but early intervention can help.
Is There a Cure for Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Antisocial personality disorder is a lifelong condition, much like other personality disorders. Furthermore, people with these symptoms rarely believe that they need help. After all, they do not understand the effects they have on others and the meaning of the destruction they cause.
However, because many people with this condition have run-ins with the law, they may have to attend court-ordered treatments. While there is no specific style of therapy for antisocial personality disorder, therapists can use techniques such as anger management to help. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve any medications for this disorder.
What Do I Do If I Know Someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Depending on your relationship with the person in question, you may gently recommend counseling. However, do not be surprised if this suggestion is unsuccessful. If you know of illegal activity that the person committed, you may wish to report it to the authorities.
Furthermore, you may want to seek treatment yourself. A qualified mental health professional can help you cope with the many ways in which the person with these symptoms may have hurt you. They may also recommend boundaries to set with that person. The professionals at LifeStance Health can help. Contact a behavioral health clinic near you to book an appointment.