Antisocial personality disorder

Alternative Names

Sociopathic personality; Sociopathy; Personality disorder – antisocial

Definition of Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The causes of antisocial personality disorder are unknown. 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. The condition is common in people who are in prison.

Symptoms

A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

Signs and tests

Like other personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of symptoms. To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must have had conduct disorder during childhood.

Treatment

Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. People with this condition rarely seek treatment on their own. They may only start therapy when required to by a court.

Expectations (prognosis)

Symptoms tend to peak during the late teenage years and early 20s. They sometimes improve on their own by a person’s 40s.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/14/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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