Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder. Definition, signs, symptoms, causes, treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is defined  as: A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years old, as indicated by 3 or more of the following:

  • failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  • deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  • impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  • reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  • consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  • lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Additional criteria for a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Other Characteristics of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder are often angry and arrogant, but may be capable of superficial wit and charm. They may be adept at flattery and manipulating the emotions of others. People with antisocial personality disorder often have extensive substance abuse and legal problems.

Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Personality disorders are chronic behavioral and relationship patterns that interfere with a person's life over many years. To receive a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, a person must have exhibited behavior that qualifies for a diagnosis of conduct disorder during childhood.

The cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown, but genetic factors and child abuse are believed to contribute to the development of this condition. People with an antisocial or alcoholic parent are at increased risk. Far more men than women are affected, and unsurprisingly, the condition is common in prison populations.

Fire-setting and cruelty to animals during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality.

Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. Individuals rarely seek treatment on their own and may only initiate therapy when mandated by a court. The efficacy of treatment for antisocial personality disorder is largely unknown.   Symptoms tend to peak during the late teenage years and early 20's and may improve on their own by the time a person is in their 40s.

For comprehensive information on antisocial and other personality disorders, visit the Personality Disorders Community.

Source: American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 2). Antisocial Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 18 from

Last Updated: July 3, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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