A man with a personality disorder deviates from the expectations of their culture’s norms. Antisocial personality disorder, one of the specific disorders under the umbrella of personality disorders, describes behavior that consistently disregards and/or violates the rights of other people.
Symptoms of this disorder tend to arise during adolescence or early adulthood and severely affect interpersonal relationships. Men are affected more often than women with an antisocial personality disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Indications of antisocial personality disorder vary somewhat from case to case and can also vary in severity. They include:
- Violation of the physical or emotional rights of others
- Lack of stability in job and home life
- Irritability and aggression
- Lack of remorse
- Consistent irresponsibility
- Recklessness, impulsivity
- Lack of empathy
- Tendency to break the law or behave as if the legal system does not apply to them
- Tendency to lack the ability to deal with responsibility with any consistency
A doctor or GP is typically the first to diagnose antisocial personality disorder following a psychological evaluation. In most cases, he or she will rule out several other potential causes of behavior before issuing the diagnosis of APD and may even refer you to a psychiatrist for a more comprehensive evaluation.
Many men with APD also experience alcohol and/or drug use issues, both of which can exacerbate symptoms of the personality disorder. The presence of co-occurring conditions will also complicate any treatment.
It’s common for a man with APD to be charming and appeal to people, but they eventually become irritable or aggressive when things don’t go their way. Their seemingly kind words and actions are meant to manipulate. Some men with APD even go so far as to threaten or attempt suicide if they think it will gain them sympathy or get them their wants or needs met.
Doctors do not diagnose anyone under the age of 19 with APD, even if they show symptoms of the disorder. Symptoms can arise as early as 15. Early signs that a boy might eventually develop Antisocial Personality Disorder include:
- Cruelty to animals
- Explosive anger
- Social isolation
- Poor performance in school
Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder
Mental health experts are not sure of the exact cause of APD. They do believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a role. There is evidence that the risk of developing APD increases when a man has a biological parent with the disorder. Studies have also found that identical twins develop APD at a higher rate than fraternal twins.
Other potential causes include:
- Abnormal brain development
- Childhood trauma or abuse
- Instability in the home during childhood
- Dulled response to stimuli
- Diminished amount of prefrontal brain matter leading to lack of impulse control
Treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder
Treating APD is challenging. Men with APD rarely seek treatment and many don’t believe there is anything unusual or ‘wrong’ about their behavior. Sometimes it is an experience with law enforcement or the legal system that prompts a man to seek treatment. Often too, it is the man’s relationships with close family and friends which may provide the best clues as to the presence and severity of his symptoms.
Additionally, there is no clear treatment regimen for APD. Some doctors have experienced success in prescribing antipsychotic medications, including clozapine, but additional research is needed to determine its overall effectiveness. Psychotherapy, often called talk therapy, is sometimes used to treat the antisocial personality disorder. The focus of the therapy may include, for example, anger and violence management, treatment for alcohol or substance misuse (if co-existing), and treatment for other mental health conditions.
Like many mental health issues, there is no cure for Antisocial Personality Disorder. There is also no sure way to prevent APD from developing, but early intervention can help to reduce the risk of the disorder developing later in adulthood and it’s impacts being severe.
Is A Man with Antisocial Personality Disorder a Psychopath?
Most mental health experts believe this is not the case. Though there might be some overlap in behavior, a man with APD is not a psychopath. Psychopathy and APD are two different diagnoses. Psychopathy deals more with personality, while APD is more about behavior. Men with Antisocial Personality Disorder tend to be more overtly aggressive.
But as Dr. Robert Hare, professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia, explains, “Most psychopaths (with the exception of those who somehow manage to plow their way through life without coming into formal or prolonged contact with the criminal justice system) meet the criteria for ASPD, but most individuals with ASPD are not psychopaths.” Essentially, most psychopaths have APD but there are plenty of people with APD who are not psychopaths.
Additionally, most career criminals fit the description of someone with APD. Studies show that about 50-75% of the prison population meets the criteria for having APD, but only about 15% meet the criteria for a psychopath.”