What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?
Antisocial personality disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the book which contains the diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses) as a cluster B personality disorder (those that are dramatic or emotional).
- is an enduring pattern of personal experience and behavior that deviates noticeably from the expectations of the individual’s culture
- is pervasive and inflexible
- has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood
- is stable over time
- and leads to personal distress or impairment.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
- describes individuals who tend to disregard and violate the rights of others around them.
- is characterized by a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.
- The diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder is not given to individuals under the age of 18 but is given only if there is a history of some symptoms of conduct disorder before age 15.
- The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder can vary in severity.
- The more egregious, harmful, or dangerous behavior patterns are referred to as sociopathic or psychopathic.
- There has been much debate as to the distinction between these descriptions.
- Sociopathy is chiefly characterized as something severely wrong with one’s conscience.
- Psychopathy is characterized as a complete lack of conscience regarding others.
- Some professionals describe people with this constellation of symptoms as “stone cold” to the rights of others. Complications of this disorder include imprisonment, drug abuse, and alcoholism.
- People with this illness may seem charming on the surface, but they are likely to be irritable and aggressive as well as irresponsible.
- They may have numerous somatic complaints and perhaps attempt suicide. Due to their manipulative tendencies, it is difficult to tell whether they are lying or telling the truth.
- Antisocial personality disorder is much more common in males than in females.
- The highest prevalence of antisocial personality disorder is found among males who abuse alcohol or drugs or who are in prisons or other forensic settings.
- Antisocial personality is confirmed by a psychological evaluation.
- Other disorders should be ruled out first, as this is a serious diagnosis.
- The alcohol and drug abuse common among people with antisocial personality disorder can exacerbate symptoms of the disorder.
- When substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder coexist, treatment is more complicated for both.
- Disregard for society’s laws
- Violation of the physical or emotional rights of others
- Lack of stability in job and home life
- Irritability and aggressiveness
- Lack of remorse
- Consistent irresponsibility
- Recklessness, impulsivity
- A childhood diagnosis (or symptoms consistent with) conduct disorder
- While the exact causes of this disorder are unknown, both environmental and genetic factors have been implicated.
- Genetic factors are suspected since the incidence of antisocial behavior is higher in people with an antisocial biological parent.
- Environmental factors may also be blamed, however, as a person whose role model had antisocial tendencies is more likely to develop them.
- About 3% of men and about 1% of women have antisocial personality disorder.
- Much higher percentages exist among the prison population.
- Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat.
- Individuals rarely seek treatment on their own and may initiate therapy only when mandated to do so by a court.
- There is no clearly indicated treatment for antisocial personality disorder.
- Recently, an antipsychotic medication called clozapine has shown promising results in improving symptoms among men with antisocial personality disorder.
What is a Sociopath?
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is the authority on mental illnesses published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-5’s diagnostic term for sociopathy is antisocial personality disorder.
What is the Definition of a Sociopath?
The DSM-5 defines antisocial personality disorder (sociopath) as a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, 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 repeated 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.”
It’s important to note that sociopathic children do not exist as a person cannot be diagnosed as a sociopath until age 18. While the patterns of behavior and personality traits exist prior to adulthood, until then, a child may be diagnosed with conduct disorder, but he can’t be defined as a sociopath.
Four Categories of a Sociopath
- This category involves interaction with other people.
- In this area, someone who is a sociopath is superficial and incapable of deep, meaningful relationships and connections.
- It might seem at first that this person is very attached and caring, but that’s just an act.
- A sociopath is antisocial.
- He (or sometimes she) is capable of lies and deception in order to get his or her way, but he cares nothing about forming real friendships and partnerships.
- This area deals with emotions and feelings.
- When it comes to the affective part of being human, the definition of a sociopath is someone who completely lacks empathy.
- He simply can’t take the perspective of others or understand (or care) how someone else feels.
- When a sociopath is hurtful, he feels no remorse.
- If it’s good for him, he doesn’t care who’s hurt in the process.
- A sociopath has no conscience.
- Someone who is a sociopath is impulsive and unreliable.
- As a result of these traits, the sociopath also lacks the ability to set long-term goals.
- Further, he can’t, or won’t, accept responsibility for his actions.
- The definition of a sociopath centers on the concept of being antisocial.
- This person stands apart from the rest of society.
- He exists for himself and only for himself.
- He cares nothing for the norms, rules, and laws of society.
- Accordingly, a sociopath has a history of juvenile delinquency and likely has a criminal record in adulthood.
Understanding the Meaning of Sociopath
The above concepts define sociopath. What, though, is the meaning of sociopath?
At their essence, sociopaths are social predators.
Hallmark traits of sociopathy are a lack of empathy and a disregard for societal norms, the rules both written and unwritten that help keep the world safe and fair for all.
The sociopath can be defined as someone who cares only for himself and lacks the ability to treat other people as human beings.
What is a sociopath?
- Sociopath is a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.
- Someone who, because he is antisocial with no conscience, ignores reality to make his own uncaring and selfish life.
- A sociopath is actually a person with antisocial personality disorder.
While sociopathy can only be diagnosed at the age of 18 or above, the following must be present before the age of 15 for the diagnosis:
- Repeated violations of the law–
- Pervasive lying and deception
- Physical aggressiveness
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
- Consistent irresponsibility in work and family environments
- Lack of remorse
What is a Psychopath?
- A person with amoral and antisocial behavior
- lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships
- extreme egocentricity,
- failure to learn from experience
- a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
- an unstable and aggressive person.
- Lack of guilt/remorse
- Lack of empathy
- Lack of deep emotional attachments
- Superficial charm
- Reckless risk-taking
Moreover, approximately 93% of psychopaths are in the criminal justice system.
Differences Between a Psychopath and Sociopath
- While the traits of each may seem similar,
- it is thought that sociopaths have a less severe form of lack of empathy and lack of guilt.
- It is thought that sociopaths may be able to form some deep bonds (such as, possibly, with family) while a psychopath cannot.
- Moreover, while a sociopath would feel no guilt about hurting a stranger, they may feel guilt and remorse over hurting someone with which they share a bond.
- Additionally, it appears that some of the very antisocial behavior in sociopaths lessens over time while this cannot be said of psychopaths.
- Psychopaths appear to have no concern whatsoever of the consequences,
- while a sociopath may learn to avoid consequences over time by reducing antisocial behavior.
- The psychopath is callous, yet charming.
- He or she will con and manipulate others with charisma and intimidation and can effectively mimic feelings to present as “normal” to society.
- The psychopath is organized in their criminal thinking and behavior, and can maintain good emotional and physical control, displaying little to no emotional or autonomic arousal, even under situations that most would find threatening or horrifying.
- The psychopath is keenly aware that what he or she is doing is wrong, but does not care.
- “Conversely, the sociopath is less organized in his or her demeanor; he or she might be nervous, easily agitated, and quick to display anger.
- A sociopath is more likely to spontaneously act out in inappropriate ways without thinking through the consequences.
- Compared to the psychopath, the sociopath will not be able to move through society committing callous crimes as easily, as they can form attachments and often have normal temperaments.
Both psychopaths and sociopaths are capable of committing horrific crimes, but a sociopath is less likely to commit them against those with whom there is a bond.
- Psychopaths are far more likely to get in trouble with the law.
- Sociopaths are much more likely to blend in with society.
Sociopathy is generally considered less severe than psychopathy.
Psychopathy can be thought of as a more severe form of sociopathy with more symptoms.
Therefore, all psychopaths are sociopaths… but not all sociopaths are psychopaths.
Do They Have a Conscience?
- A key difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is whether he has a conscience, the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong.
- A psychopath doesn’t have a conscience. If he lies to you so he can steal your money, he won’t feel any moral qualms, though he may pretend to. He may observe others and then act the way they do so he’s not found out.
- A sociopath typically has a conscience, but it’s weak. He may know that taking your money is wrong, and he might feel some guilt or remorse, but that won’t stop his behavior.
- Both lack empathy, the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel.
- But a psychopath has less regard for others. Someone with this personality type sees others as objects he can use for his own benefit.
They’re Not Always Violent
- In movies and TV shows, psychopaths and sociopaths are usually the villains who kill or torture innocent people.
- In real life, some people with antisocial personality disorder can be violent, but most are not.
- Instead they use manipulation and reckless behavior to get what they want.
- At worst, they’re cold, calculating killers.
- Others are skilled at climbing their way up the corporate ladder, even if they have to hurt someone to get there.
I will be posting something important about mental illness every day throughout the month of May on my blog in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Please keep visiting my blog My Loud Bipolar Whispers and look for statistics or other beneficial information related to mental illness to increase awareness, educate, reduce mental illness stigma and reduce suicides.
It is crucial and imperative for all of us to get involved and save lives.
So, please visit my blog every day, but especially every day throughout the month of May.
Thank you. Hugs and blessings to all of you always and forever.
- American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition
- American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
- National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus, 2006. Antisocial Personality Disorder. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000921.htm
- Stout, M. (2006). The sociopath next door: The ruthless versus the rest of us. Harmony Books.
- Westermeyer, J. and Thuras, P. (2005). Association of antisocial personality disorder and substance disorder morbidity in a clinical sample. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
- Brown, D., Larkin, F., Sengupta, S., Romero-Ureclay, J. L., Ross, C. C., Gupta, N., … & Das, M. (2014). Clozapine: an effective treatment for seriously violent and psychopathic men with antisocial personality disorder in a U.K. high-security hospital. CNS spectrums, 19(05), 391–402.
Last reviewed 04/19/2017