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    Antisocial personality disorder

    Sociopathic personality; Sociopathy; Personality disorder - antisocial

    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

    Cause of antisocial personality disorderis unknown. Genetic factors and environmental factors, such as 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 commonamong people who are in prison.

    Fire-setting and cruelty to animals during childhood are linked to the development of antisocial personality.

    Somedoctors believe that psychopathic personality (psychopathy) is the same disorder. Others believe that psychopathic personality is a similar but more severe disorder.

    Symptoms

    A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

    • Be able to act witty and charming
    • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people's emotions
    • Break the law repeatedly
    • Disregard the safety of self and others
    • Have problems with substance abuse
    • Lie, steal, and fight often
    • Not show guilt or remorse
    • Often be angry or arrogant

    Exams and Tests

    Antisocial personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluationthat assessesthe 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.

    Behavioral treatments, such as those that reward appropriate behavior and have negative consequences for illegal behavior, may hold the most promise. Certain forms of talk therapy are also being explored.

    Persons with antisocial personality who have other disorders, such as a mood or substance disorder, are often treated for those problems as well.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

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

    Possible Complications

    Complications can include imprisonment, drug abuse, violence, and suicide.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Seeyour health care provider ora mental health professional you or someone you know has symptoms of antisocial personality disorder.

    References

    Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.

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              Review Date: 11/10/2012

              Reviewed By: David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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