In A Better You

Discovering Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms

Antisocial Personality Disorder Symptoms

With many of the recent school violence incidents, as well as numerous reports of kids who are referred for help within the public schools systems, more attention has been given to specific disorders, especially the personality disorders. The personality disorders are often studies regarding such disturbing statistics due to the fact, despite all of the factors which influence the mind, the personality is still considered the primary basis for human behavior.


The American Psychological Association, the authority for mental illness which deemed the DSM as the ruler for determining and diagnosing mental disorders, divides various mental illnesses into certain key categories for convenience sake and to avoid people with different category types being grouped incorrectly. Below, we discuss the differences which delineate between psychoses and neuroses among the psychological disorders and how the personality disorders differ from these.


There are disorders which have a biochemical basis, some of which include psychoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and other illnesses which involve the thinking processes, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorders. In addition, the APA used to have divisions between disorders which were thought of as the Neuroses and those which dealt with more severe mental disorders, called the Psychoses. Neuroses were those disorders which caused individuals discomfort but which did not interfere with their sense of reality. They involved all of the anxiety disorders and those areas which sometimes got in the way of one’s normal routine, but which they could cope with (even though the coping might be done badly). The psychoses involved problems in which people lost their connection with reality and often had strong delusions or hallucinations which threatened their reality, causing them to do things which were based on thoughts which were based in these delusions. These people can be more dangerous to themselves and others, since they often do not know where reality ends and where fantasy begins.


The personality disorders are different from either of these major categories, but can also be considered a psychosis if it creates scenarios in which patients cross lines which take them out of reality and the standards of a society which demands adherence to basic social mores. Personality disorders are also considered among the most severe of all mental or psychological disorders, due to the fact that they cut to the heart of why and how people do what they do and how their thinking processes differ from others without such disorders. Also, treatment of the personality disorders is more challenging, due to the fact that personality is inherent within a person’s motivations and desires, without them even being aware that they exist. Alleviating problems within a person’s personality is more difficult to do than in cases dealing with biochemical problems, which can be treated simply with medications or therapy.


Before we can define what is meant by a personality disorder, we must first understand what is meant by “personality.” The personality is shaped from an early age, many believe due primarily to influences from the mother, though this idea is predominantly Freudian in origin (based on the theories of Sigmund Freud), and is not adhered to in all circles. Regardless of the theories people may have about the personality and how it is formed, it is true that is begins being shaped early in life.

We can see children playing with things that they later grow up to work with professionally. We see kids experiencing certain frustration tolerances in learning situations which do not seem to change over time. There are many other instances of examples of the personality being the basis for behavior. Therefore, a disturbance in the normal growth and development of the personality (known as a personality disorder) can certainly influence this process and cause problems for the individual throughout their life.

There are various types of personality disorders, but today we are looking at antisocial personality disorder and the treatment, symptoms, and effects of this problem.


The antisocial personality disorder is rooted in the conscience. In most children, there is a need to do what is right. Even in the face of aberrant tendencies, most children know that what they are doing is either right or wrong. The child with antisocial personality disorder (otherwise known as a ‘sociopath’) has no conscience, no sense of guilt, nor a sense of responsibility to do what they believe society expects of them. Instead, they set out to take on risks, risks which other children might not take or imagine taking, because of their sense of responsibility toward moral decision-making.

In essence, you could say the conscience, which guides most of us from our youth, is absent in such personalities, and leaves a void. And, without this navigational guide to morality, with no moral compass, the antisocial personality feels that they can do whatever they want to do, with no thought of the consequences or the results of his actions. Some see the sociopath as a potential killer, as there have been a number of serial killers or others who engaged in atrocious behavior who were later determined to suffer from antisocial personality disorder. However, it is important to note, that there may be many others who have this disorder which work in various aspects of the workforce and may never hurt or kill anyone physically. However, they may suffer from a wide range of other problems related to their work or careers, relationship problems, or other issues, which show a direct correlation to their problem.

It is possible that many people with this disorder go unidentified. Since the disorder is not consider a psychosis, they may be able to walk the line of normalcy enough to convince others that they are at least “close to the edge of normal.” This creates a lot of confusion in the psychological world and the legal world as well, when dealing with offenders in the court systems which people cannot seem to determine if they are “sane” or “insane.”


Sociopathic personalities are generally considered “sane,” that is, they know the difference between right and wrong and choose to do what they want, as opposed to someone who is psychopathic, and do not understand such boundaries or have a feeling of moral responsibility due to the fact that they are lost in their delusions. Psychopaths are in their own reality, not based in any reality that exists in the real world. Sociopaths know they are not following the norms of society but they do not seem to care that they are breaking the rules. Therefore, they take no responsibility for their actions, and seem to feel that society owes them something and that they should be able to define their own reality.

It is important to make the distinction between the world of a sociopath as opposed to that of a psychopath, because the media and even some in reputable psychological circles seem compelled to use them interchangeably.

This creates a lot of confusion regarding the personality disorders, sanity and insanity, and the factors which determine them. Research reveals that the personality disorders do start early in life and the factors which contribute to them can often be traced back to the child’s early beginnings. However, this does not mean that they are helpless to behave in the way they have learned from these early days, nor that they cannot be helped by an intensive plan of therapy and intervention.

The outlook for the person with such disorders often depends most on the person’s willingness to change their thinking and behaviors, and less to do with their genetics, although genetics can play a role in the person’s development of the disorder.

The personality of a sociopath is focuses on self-centered choices (deine) (German for “oneself”) and takes no thought of the affect his actions has on others.


The DSM, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) views antisocial personality disorder as one of the more dangerous personality types, since the person with this problem does not seem to care about the results of his actions toward others. So long as he is gratified and finds pleasure in his actions, he feels he has the right to do what he wants. Some theorists speculate that this type of personality also may be tied into other personality types, such as the narcissist personality type, who believes the world should center around him, or the passive-aggressive personality, who fluctuates between extremes in mood and behavior. However, no such link has been proven as of yet.


Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder includes the following:

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed when a person’s pattern of antisocial behavior has occurred since age 15 (although only adults 18 years or older can be diagnosed with this disorder) and consists of the majority of these symptoms:

  • Tendency to not conform to known social norms.
  • Deceitful acts
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability/aggressiveness
  • Disregard for others’ rights and boundaries
  • Lack of remorse


Some believe that the antisocial personality patient is hopeless. That is not our view on and we believe that anyone who seeks help and wants their life to improve can do so. There is help for a wide variety of mental and psychological problems. And that should not preclude antisocial personality issues. Treatment would vary, depending upon the degree of problems the person has experienced due to their disorder, whether or not they have been arrested for behaviors stemming from the disorder, and how it has affected their life in other ways.

Treatment may include:

  • Counseling and psychotherapy to get to the root of the behaviors
  • Reprogramming of behaviors and redirecting unacceptable behaviors to replace them with other means of dealing with anger and aggression
  • Medications which address the possible physiological and/or genetic factors present in the disorder
  • Self-help measures such as self-monitoring of negative thinking patterns and behaviors which lead to problems associated with aggression and non-conformity
  • Group therapy may help some people with this disorder to share their experiences with others who are like them and get to the heart of the matter regarding thinking and behavior processes in a safe environment.

There may be other ways help can be found for people suffering from antisocial personality disorder. The main factor that influences treatment will be the degree to wish the person wants to be helped, and how open they are to following the treatment regimens prescribed by professionals. Group therapy has also proven to be effective with some people, since this environment allows them to share with others and gets into the thinking that drives the antisocial personality problem among many patients.

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