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Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or APD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as "...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."
The individual must be age 18 or older, as well as have a documented history of a conduct disorder before the age of 15. People having antisocial personality disorder are sometimes referred to as "sociopaths" and "psychopaths", although some researchers believe that these terms are not synonymous with ASPD.
The history of the origins of antisocial personality disorder are closely related to the history of psychopathy - see history of psychopathy.
Characteristics of people with antisocial personality disorder may include:
- Persistent lying or stealing
- Superficial charm
- Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others
- Inability to keep jobs or stay in school
- Impulsivity and/or recklessness
- Lack of realistic, long-term goals — an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals
- Inability to make or keep friends, or maintain relationships such as marriage
- Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper
- Narcissism, elevated self-appraisal or a sense of extreme entitlement
- A persistent agitated or depressed feeling (dysphoria)
- A history of childhood conduct disorder
- Recurring difficulties with the law
- Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others
- Substance abuse
- Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights
- Inability to tolerate boredom
- Disregard for the safety of self or others
- Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms
- Difficulties with authority figures 
Diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR = 301.7)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, DSM IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines antisocial personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster B) as:
- A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and the rights of others occurring since the age of 15, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest;
- deceitfulness, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure;
- impulsivity or failure to plan ahead;
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults;
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others;
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations;
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
- B) The individual is at least 18 years of age.
- C) There is evidence of Conduct disorder with onset before age 15.
- D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.
Deceit and manipulation are considered essential features of the disorder. Therefore, it is essential in making the diagnosis to collect material from sources other than the individual being diagnosed.
It is a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.
Researchers have heavily criticized the ASPD DSM-IV criteria because not enough emphasis was placed on traditional psychopathic traits such as a lack of empathy, superficial charm, and inflated self appraisal.
These latter traits are harder to assess than behavioral problems (like impulsivity and acting out). Thus, the DSM-IV framers sacrificed validity for reliability. That is, the ASPD diagnosis focuses on behavioral traits, but only limited emphasis is placed on affective and unemotional interpersonal traits.
Many have argued that psychopathy/sociopathy are incorrectly put together under ASPD. These clinicians and researchers are upset that an important distinction has been lost between these two disorders. In other words, ASPD and psychopathy are considered to be the same, or similar. However, they are not the same since antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed via behavior and social deviance, whereas psychopathy also includes affective and interpersonal personality factors.
Also, ASPD, unlike psychopathy, does not have biological markers confirmed to underpin the disorder. Other criticisms of ASPD are that it is essentially synonymous with criminality. Nearly 80%–95% of felons will meet criteria for ASPD — thus ASPD predicts nothing in criminal justice populations. Whereas, psychopathy scores (using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R)) is found in only ~20% of inmates and PCL-R is considered one of the best predictors of violent recidivism. Also, the DSM-IV field trials never included incarcerated populations.
The official stance of the American Psychiatric Association as presented in the DSM-IV-TR is that psychopathy and sociopathy are obsolete synonyms for antisocial personality disorder. The World Health Organization takes a similar stance in its ICD-10 by referring to psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality, asocial personality, and amoral personality as synonyms for dissocial personality disorder.
The World Health Organization's ICD-10 defines a conceptually similar disorder to antisocial personality disorder called (F60.2) Dissocial personality disorder.
- It is characterized by at least 3 of the following:
- Callous unconcern for the feelings of others and lack of the capacity for empathy.
- Gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations.
- Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.
- Very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence.
- Incapacity to experience guilt and to profit from experience, particularly punishment.
- Markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalizations for the behavior bringing the subject into conflict.
- Persistent irritability.
- The criteria specifically rule out conduct disorders. Dissocial personality disorder criteria differ from those for antisocial and sociopathic personality disorders.
It is a requirement of ICD-10 that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria.
Theodore Millon identified five subtypes of antisocial . Any individual antisocial may exhibit none, one or more than one of the following:
- covetous antisocial - variant of the pure pattern where individuals feel that life has not given them their due.
- reputation-defending antisocial - including narcissistic features
- risk-taking antisocial - including histrionic features
Differential diagnosis: associated and overlapping conditions
The following conditions commonly coexist with antisocial personality disorder:
When combined with alcoholism, people may show frontal function deficits on neuropsychological tests greater than those associated with each condition.
Antisocial personality disorder in the general population is about 3% in males and 1% in females.
It is seen in 3% to 30% of psychiatric outpatients. The prevalence of the disorder is even higher in selected populations, such as people in prisons (who include many violent offenders). Similarly, the prevalence of ASPD is higher among patients in alcohol or other drug (AOD) abuse treatment programs than in the general population (Hare 1983), suggesting a link between ASPD and AOD abuse and dependence.
To date there have been no controlled studies reported which found an effective treatment for ASPD. Some studies have found that the presence ASPD does not significantly interfere with treatment for other disorders, such as substance abuse, although others have reported contradictory findings.
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