What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition marked by difficulty relating to others and abnormalities in thought processes and perceptions. A person with this condition may have difficulty getting along well with others and may not seem to care whether his actions are right or wrong. He may break the law frequently, lie, and fail to act responsibly when it comes to tasks at work or at home. In many cases, a person with this condition also abuses alcohol and drugs. Treatment for the condition often includes psychotherapy, medication, and anger or stress management classes.

A person with antisocial personality disorder shows little to no regard for laws or norms and may exhibit violent and intimidating behavior.
A person with antisocial personality disorder shows little to no regard for laws or norms and may exhibit violent and intimidating behavior.

Also called sociopath personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder causes a person to behave and think in a manner that most people consider abnormal. A person with this condition may lie or break the law and show no remorse for doing so. Often, a person with this condition is manipulative and uses his charm to get what he wants from others. His wishes may be all that matters to him, and he may have a habit of violating the rights of those around him.

Psychotherapy is one way that antisocial personality disorder is treated.
Psychotherapy is one way that antisocial personality disorder is treated.

A person who has antisocial personality disorder may break the law repeatedly. He may exhibit violent and intimidating behavior and have trouble with controlling his impulses. An individual with this mental condition may also be abusive to his spouse or partner and to children. Additionally, an individual with this disorder may neglect those in his care.

A person with antisocial personality disorder may need to take medication to control their symptoms.
A person with antisocial personality disorder may need to take medication to control their symptoms.

The behavior of a person with this disorder may often seem erratic. He may seem agitated or anxious a good deal of the time and behave irresponsibly at work. He may also have poor relationships both on a personal and business level.

People with antisocial personality disorder are typically very manipulative and use other people to get what they want.
People with antisocial personality disorder are typically very manipulative and use other people to get what they want.

The causes of this mental health condition seem to be both genetic and environmental. Scientist believe that the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions typical of the disorder may be passed on by parents who exhibit the same patterns. Many scientists also believe, however, that the condition is partially caused by situations a person experiences in the course of life, such as child or sexual abuse.

Currently, there is no one medication that is prescribed specifically to treat antisocial personality disorder.
Currently, there is no one medication that is prescribed specifically to treat antisocial personality disorder.

There is no specific treatment for antisocial personality disorder. Often, however, a combination approach is taken to treatment. For example, a person may undergo psychotherapy and receive treatment with medication. Anger and stress management classes and help from social workers may prove beneficial as well. If a patient has a severe case in which he is a serious danger to himself or others, treatment may include hospitalization.

Those with antisocial personality disorder often have difficulty sustaining relationships.
Those with antisocial personality disorder often have difficulty sustaining relationships.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


I think this term is thrown around far too loosely. Not every unhappy person is a sociopath. There are logical answers and most things are much more simple than we make them. I can’t sit and in my mind logically accept that someone can be born anti social. I’m sorry, but that’s udderly nonsensical. And also, just being anti social doesn’t make you a sociopath, likewise neither does addiction. Some people are just addicts or antisocial. My point is I feel like these behaviors are profiled together almost automatically and it seems silly to me.


Maybe I am missing the point here, but antisocial personality disorder -- is that disorder not genetic? And partially caused by some sort of childhood abuse? The point I am trying to make here is the person diagnosed with this condition is not the one who should be sent to jail. Maybe people need to look at the bigger picture here, not the problem it created in the first place.


I just feel -- well, nothing, but that's not the point of my statement. This is a website for knowledge, not some group therapy session. I come down to the comment section of the page and what do I read? A bunch of people talking about five year relationships with an anti-social individual. Oh, and child abuse. Save it for Dr. Phil and Oprah. Here I was thinking of reading other people's take on the whole Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD). Which is totally what I have. I'll admit it, even though I'd be breaking a lot of rules. I hate the internet sometimes. Well that would be if I was able to feel hate, but if there is one thing I have learned as a psychopath: it's to fake it. So now my pre-determined reaction is over and I am ending my post.


I truly believe I have lived with someone who is a sociopath through and through. It is my belief also that people with such a disorder are rarely diagnosed as they never feel they have a problem and are so good at lying and manipulating everyone around them. Mine and my families lives have been torn apart by this person and what's even more worrying for me is we have a young child together. I'm now left broke and destroyed inside. I feel have had my heart ripped out, chewed up and spat out.

This monster has no remorse for what he has done and quite easily moved on grooming other women finding himself another victim who will be treated no better than what I was. This has been a very volatile marriage and I have been psychologically abused and damaged. Personally I feel there should be help available for the victims of these monsters as the damage is so great. Better knowledge should be taught as to the heartache and carnage they cause and leave behind them. I truly believe these monsters are not only a danger to themselves but a danger to society. They have no conscience, lack empathy and truly only care about themselves and there wants and needs and will go to whatever lengths to get these fulfilled destroying those in there path. The me-me-me attitude makes me sick.

They are on a road to destruction and don't care about no one or nothing apart from themselves. If anyone knows an organization that can help aid my own recovery and help me move forward with my own life after this horrific experience then please share. I do in fact like to see myself as a survivor in this case and not the victim. I broke free from this very toxic person which was very difficult because of the emotional hold they have on you. Anyone who has experienced this will understand fully what I mean by that.

I'm in recovery and it's a long road. I wouldn't wish this experience on my own worst enemy. It literally sucks the life out of you and messes your head up beyond belief.


I just ended a five year relationship with a diagnosed antisocial man. He abused me and his three year old. Every day I cope with the pain of his actions. What he has done to us does not even affect him. It isn't right!


All of you have valid points about antisocial personality disorder. I have myself been diagnosed with this disorder. Trust me, it is vary hard to find help because people take one look at me and say oh he's cool. This diagnosis is weak. You're not sick. It's the funniest thing ever because this happens all the time.

No, I am not a rapist or killer, even though I won't hesitate to do so depending on the situations.

Look at everybody on this forum who is dealing with a person with APD -- this is for you to read.

If this person with APD is a drug addict, they are probably trying to feel the feelings that normal people without this disorder feel, such as love.

Family also plays an important role in this person's life. Jail may be needed but it only will help if this person is put in a vulnerable situation that they can learn from. It won't help entirely because not only is this person sick, he really is smart. Some things about them will never change, but they are capable of doing positive things only if they want to.

If this person is a charmer, tell this person about the positive things they can accomplish if they just did the right thing. There are also corporate people with APD. These are the ones who are really smart and you can't detect anything. Your drug addict brother can be helped. But your sick corporate APD person may go undetected.


@dkarnowski: My brother also suffers from this disorder. What you describe in your brother is dead-on with what I've experienced with mine over the years. Except that mine also has to be on some kind of drug at all times as well, in an effort to feel normal. He's stolen so much from our family and has no friends anymore. He's a very good looking guy, and so it kills me every time he meets a new girl or gets a new job because I know it's only a matter of time before they figure out he isn't right, and he ends up hurting them and himself. Not to mention my own reputation around the area.

Anyway, I'm sorry, but I really have no advice. I'm at a loss as to what to do. I'm 25 now and he's 23. He has basically screwed mine and my family's lives up for the past five years or so. I'm just now a junior in college because the stress of him constantly ruining things for me has seriously messed up my schoolwork. Now I'm leaving for LA and I'm afraid for my family's well-being while I'm gone. I feel like I'm abandoning them and him, but I've reached a limit to where I have to cut myself off from the whole family to not feel the pain of it anymore.

I honestly think he needs to just go to jail. I think that's probably the only thing that can wake him up. I don't know though, he's my baby brother and I've been through so much with him that it's so sad to just leave it up to him going to jail and wasting all of his potential. If anyone has any advice at all, please help me.


Interestingly enough, the description "sociopathic" personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder causes abnormal behavior and thinking. Those with this condition lie, break the law and show no remorse. Those with this condition are manipulative and use charm to get what they want. If that fails hey turn to violence as their wants are all that matter. Violating the rights of those around him is just Business as Usual.


My mother shows all the signs of antisocial behavior. Just last night she phoned late and said nasty things that I am just so upset over. To be in her presence makes me so ill to my stomach.

I am 50 years old and don't know how to continue a relationship with my mother. My father has had numerous affairs but know stayed with her and know sees everything her way and is just as abusive to me. This has been going on for years.

I have a very large space between them and me. I believe she actually felt good as she was laying in to me on the phone. I was so taken aback I didn't know what to say. Just so sick to my whole being. Any advice?


it seems to me many drug addicts are anti-social. Once s/he finds recovery from addictions, the anti-social behavior will likely no longer be evident.


I have a daughter with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. But after reading your article, I know she is a sociopath. We are living with everything you have written. It's too bad that the law doesn't give family members some alternatives to force an adult child into treatment.

It is very hard on families who deal with a sociopath family member. We need to have more options. It is very hard to walk away and turn your back to them, especially when it is your child.


It concerns me just how loosely such definitions of conditions can be used. People seem to group all of these afflictions like Antisocial Personality Disorder, depression, sociopathy and ADD into the same grouping of mental health. Sure they all have to do with our minds but to group things so loosely can really degrade the significance of their impact on peoples lives.

One can say that a man has a mental health issue. Unfortunately that really doesn't describe the seriousness of the depression that the person might have. That person might be balled up on the floor clutching their knees for some sort of comfort in the world and we simply say, "they have a mental health issue."

Now, think about the word cancer. People have an impact from that word because they are under the impression that it kills people and mental health doesn't. This is far from the case. One might even be able to attribute every single suicide in history to some sort of vague mental disorder.

I just hope that science catches up with society and there is some understanding found for the people afflicted by such mental health problems.


@fitness234, you make some excellent points and even have the majority right on how our current medical doctors determine the best course of action for someone suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder.

The biggest issue I have with how our doctors and medical professionals address this issue is the prescriptions of psychoactive medications.

Often it is through a trial and error process that a doctor or psychologist can determine the proper medicine. The side effects of these medicines are the worst part of this experiment with a troubled mind. Individuals will experience a variety of discomforts and even some dangerous medical conditions.

I just wish there was a more scientific way of figuring out the best medication and as science advances I am sure that it will. In the mean time we have people that are unable to get a grip on social reality and dive further into the despair of human rejection.


@dkarnowski, what you describe is a very unfortunate and quite more concerning is the fact that it is a trend that is now saturating our society. The question remains to be answered however, does antisocial personality disorder and the way that it is diagnosed been systematically dissected well enough to truly and accurately label people in such a way.

After all, mental health issues have changed widely over the past centuries and even though modern, western medicine has made huge advancements in the field, much research has yet to be completed.

Everyone has social issues of one type or another even if it is as simple as becoming enraged behind the wheel or looking down your nose at someone of "lesser class."

These differences in socioeconomic class and clout will never be made so that people exist on a single plane of equality. Despite this, we can make an effort to identify individuals with such issues and get the help that they need.

Often times determining the best course of medication can be quite difficult. While we cannot open up someone's head and just dip in a test strip to see a chemical imbalance, we can do fairly simple psychoanalysis of the patient and slowly determine the best medication for the condition.


My unfortunate brother suffers from antisocial personality disorder and yeah, we do call them sociopaths.

His inability to make friends, have fun, experience life just compound on each other and make it a terrible experience.

Even if some social progress is made in his favor such as finding a new friend or having a crush on a female, the other issues quickly arise and discourage him from further progress.

I guess that is why it is so frustrating trying to help my brother. It's almost as if he is incapable of producing anything creatively because he is stymied by a lack of culturing.

The little that he does create ends up being very distorted and shows his complex at it's very deepest roots. Does anyone have any advice? We have been to see shrinks and doctors of all kinds.

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