I work with clients who suffer and have been diagnosed with "antisocial personality disorder" on a daily basis with prison re-entry.
My ex-husband of four years has been diagnosed and has suffered with this mental health disorder since the age of 12. Until the age of 18, the psychiatric community defines this mental health issue as "conduct disorder" which will gradually increase in antisocial behavior.
Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a long-standing
pattern of a disregard for other people’s rights, often crossing the
line and violating those rights. It usually begins in childhood or as a
teen and continues into their adult lives.
Antisocial personality disorder is often referred to as psychopathy
or sociopathy in popular culture. However, neither psychopathy nor
sociopathy are recognized professional labels used for diagnosis.
Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack
empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the
feelings, rights, and sufferings of others.
They may have an inflated
and arrogant self-appraisal (e.g., feel that ordinary work is beneath
them or lack a realistic concern about their current problems or their
future) and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky.
may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and
verbally facile (e.g., using technical terms or jargon that might
impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic).
Lack of empathy, inflated self-appraisal, and superficial charm are
features that have been commonly included in traditional conceptions of
psychopathy and may be particularly distinguishing of Antisocial
Personality Disorder in prison or forensic settings where criminal,
delinquent, or aggressive acts are likely to be nonspecific. These
individuals may also be irresponsible and exploitative in their sexual
A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and
behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The
pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition;
affect; interpersonal functioning; or impulse control. The enduring
pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and
social situations. It typically leads to significant distress or
impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning. The pattern is
stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back to early
adulthood or adolescence.
There should also be evidence of Conduct Disorder in the individual
as a child, whether or not it was ever formally diagnosed by a
Because personality disorders describe long-standing and enduring
patterns of behavior, they are most often diagnosed in adulthood. It is
uncommon for them to be diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, because a
child or teen is under constant development, personality changes and
maturation. According to the DSM-5, antisocial personality disorder
cannot be diagnosed in people younger than 18 years old.
Antisocial personality disorder is 70 percent more prevalent in males
than females. The 12-month prevalence rate of this disorder is between
0.2 and 3.3 percent.
Like most personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder
typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people
experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in
the 40s or 50s.
Many people with antisocial personality disorder don’t seek out
treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often
seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere
or otherwise impact a person’s life. This most often happens when a
person’s coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or
other life events.
Treatment of antisocial personality disorder typically involves
long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in treating
this kind of personality disorder. Medications may also be prescribed
to help with specific troubling and debilitating symptoms.