Antisocial Personality Disorder: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Last Update on September 15, 2023 : Published on January 11, 2021
Antisocial Personality Disorder

“I’m not a psychopath, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.” – Sherlock Holmes

This sentence is as close as I can come to describe what it means to have an antisocial personality. Normally, people with ASPD or antisocial personality disorder are sometimes called ‘sociopaths’ as they can be charming and fun but at the same time, they lie, manipulate, and are uncaring towards the feelings of others.

If you’re familiar with the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, then you know that he is not your average detective. His way of thinking, reactions, and behavior might all be summed up as a “high-functioning sociopath” – meaning, that he lacks empathy, has little to no regard for other people’s feelings and emotions, and is impulsive (not caring for his safety or those around him).

ASPD is a mental health condition that starts during childhood or adolescence and can continue well into adulthood. People with an antisocial personality disorder, like Sherlock Holmes, can display signs of; ignoring the law, violating the rights of others, and manipulating others.

ASPD can be categorized into two related but not identical conditions; psychopaths and sociopaths.

  1. Psychopaths: someone who is not capable of feeling any emotion and empathy towards others
  2. Sociopaths: someone who is impulsive and manipulative but is still able to form an emotional attachment with others

According to some studies, it was found that men are more affected by ASPD than women.

Also Read: Psychopath vs Sociopath: What’s The Difference?

Symptoms Of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Symptoms Of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Source: Everyday Health

People with antisocial personality disorder are prone to:

  • Get angry often
  • Be arrogant
  • Manipulating others
  • Act charmingly to get what they want
  • Lie to others
  • Stealing and breaking the law
  • Act aggressively
  • Not caring about the safety of themselves or others
  • Not carrying guilt or regret their actions

Children with ASPD tend to show signs of animal cruelty and similar actions like the destruction of property, deceitfulness, and theft. Adults with ASPD are more likely to use substances like alcohol and drugs to cope with their disorder.

Causes Of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Personality disorders are formed during early childhood and adolescence and they can be shaped through genes, environmental factors, or any other situational factors.

While the exact cause of ASPD is unknown, it can be said that ASPD can be caused if one’s genes are vulnerable to such personality disorders or it can be caused if there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that can affect the cognitive development of a child.

People at risk of developing ASPD are those who:

  • Are diagnosed with childhood conduct disorder
  • Have a family history of ASPD, other personality disorders, or mental health disorders
  • Have been subject to childhood abuse and neglect
  • Have had an unstable or violent upbringing

Treatment For Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder isn’t easy to treat. Often, therapists combine psychotherapy with certain prescribed medication to help with the treatment. Treatment options for ASPD are:

1. Psychotherapy

Mentalization-based therapy

There are various therapeutic approaches in psychotherapy and it can vary depending on your condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the approaches that focus on identifying and replacing negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones. Other approaches include psychodynamic psychotherapy that focuses on increasing awareness of negative thoughts and changing them.

2. Medication

As there aren’t many medications that are specifically approved for ASPD, your therapist may suggest taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, anti-psychotic pills, or mood stabilizers to help you manage your symptoms.

Prescribed medications should be taken along with proper psychotherapy treatment. Incomplete treatment may not prove effective for people with ASPD.

Note: Do not take any medication without proper consultation with your doctor.

Final Words

It’s not easy to watch someone you love suffer from any disorder. If someone you care for and love displays signs of this personality disorder then it is recommended that you seek professional help.

People with ASPD have a high-risk of going to prison, substance abuse, and self-harm. If left untreated, ASPD can cause people to get in trouble with the law and affect their overall health and wellbeing.

If a person with ADPD displays signs of self-harm and suicide then reach out to suicide helpline numbers here.

If you require additional help to care for your loved one with ASPD, you can reach out to us at or visit our counselors here.

Talking to someone who understands how to help with symptoms of such illnesses can be beneficial. Discuss possible treatments and don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.

“These sociopaths,’ he said. ‘What do they feel like? Inside?’ Isabel smiled. ‘Unmoved,’ she said. ‘They feel unmoved. Look at a cat when it does something wrong. It looks quite unmoved. Cats are sociopaths, you see. It’s their natural state.” – Alexander McCall Smith

Thanks for reading! Take care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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