Over 200,000 people are diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) in the United States each year. ASPD is characterized by demonstrating a lack of empathy and, at times, displaying a blatant disrespect for one’s surroundings. A person with ASPD often has destructive feelings and repeatedly violates one’s rights with no display of guilt or remorse. They may also show a need for recklessness, a knack for using their wit to get what they want (manipulation), and a sense of superiority. This personality disorder is commonly confused with psychopathy; in fact, psychopathy is diagnosed under the umbrella of ASPD along with sociopathy , but is not an interchangeable term with ASPD.
It is important to make the distinction between someone who has psychopathy or sociopathy rather than ASPD. Although there is no specific treatment, psychotherapy and medication may help with ASPD symptoms.
- Lack of remorse or empathy: “I just hurt someone, and I have no idea why. I don’t feel bad about it, though; I just felt like I should tell someone.” A person with ASPD is unlikely to find fault in his or her behaviors. In fact, it would be fairly rare for someone with ASPD to even message someone on 7 Cups, because often they wouldn’t know that there’s a problem, and therefore would not seek help. Violence is seen as intrinsically bad because most people have a sense of empathy that allows them to put themselves in other people’s shoes; people with ASPD don’t lack empathy, they just have it on an almost voluntary basis.
- Inflated sense of ego: “I’m a good conversationalist, don’t you think so?” People with ASPD often like to feel that they’re important, and they don’t like being told that they should be on a lower level than others. If you interact with someone with ASPD, they may say things that sound vain, or they may ask you to validate their greatness.
- Comorbidity: People with ASPD usually have another type of psychological disorder, such as depression or anxiety, and only coincidentally get diagnosed with ASPD. Because of this, people with ASPD probably won’t even acknowledge that they have ASPD, and will only discuss their other disorder such as depression or anxiety. Unless you build enough trust for someone to tell you directly, you may not even know that someone has ASPD.
- Poor relationships: “I have no friends; I don’t really need them anyways.” People with ASPD tend not to possess strong, long-lasting relationships with many people, if any; they have a hard time maintaining the bonds that a relationship requires. Because of this, they often go through turbulent friendships, a reckless need of sex (without much regard to how the other partner is feeling), and have a hard time establishing themselves and their place in their community.
Note: Be careful of their manipulation: Not all people with ASPD show their symptoms in the same ways. Some exhibit violent actions or violent thoughts, some exhibit verbal manipulation as a way for them to feel power over someone else.
- Emotional turbulence: Many people with ASPD have gone through severe traumas in their lives; ASPD can flare up and become active because of trauma or childhood abuse. Deep down, people with ASPD do have a need to be loved and accepted, and often have a problem finding partners for that purpose, as their traits are often considered unfavorable for a friendship or relationship. Not all people with ASPD kill or hurt people. Jeffrey Dahmer has mentioned there is often a point of no-return; however, it doesn’t have to get that far. People can feel as though the world is against them because they’re different, and this could cause them to socially detach themselves. Sadness and loneliness can drive people over the edge.
Myths about ASPD
“All people with ASPD are killers.”
Most people with ASPD attempt to live normal lives. Although some some can be more turbulent than others, by no means are most people with ASPD exclusively killers.
“People with ASPD are insane.”
Many psychologists would argue against that saying that they cannot be classified as insane due to the fact that they’re aware of their actions and do not experience hallucinations, be it auditory or visually.
“All people in prison have ASPD.”
There are many reasons that a person can be imprisoned Usually, prisoners do not fall under the classification of people with antisocial personality disorder .
Resources and Recommended Reading:
 How to Tell a Sociopath from a Psychopath
 Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder: A Case of Diagnostic Confusion
MayoClinic - ASPD
PsychologyToday - ASPD
1 ) What is Antisocial Personality Disorder often (wrongly) called?
2) What kinds of treatments are available for ASPD?
3) What’s notable about the kinds of relationships a person with ASPD may have?
4) People with ASPD experience ____________, which means they have more than one mental disorder.
2) Psychotherapy can help, but there’s no formal treatment.
3) They can be turbulent and unreliable.