Anti-Social Personality Disorder
To understand antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or APD), it is necessary to learn what having any personality disorder involves. As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR, 2000), a personality disorder (PD) is a persistent pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that is significantly different from what is considered normal within the person's own culture.
Antisocial personality disorder is specifically a pervasive pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others. Diagnostic criteria for this disorder state that this pattern must include at least three of the following specific signs and symptoms:
• Lack of conforming to laws, as evidenced by repeatedly committing crimes
• Repeated deceitfulness in relationships with others, such as lying, using false names, or conning others for profit or pleasure
• Failure to think or plan ahead (impulsivity)
• Tendency to irritability, anger, and aggression, as shown by repeatedly assaulting others or getting into frequent physical fights
• Disregard for personal safety or the safety of others
• Persistent lack of taking responsibility, such as failing to establish a pattern of good work habits or keeping financial obligations
• A lack of feeling guilty about wrong-doing
Although there are no clear biological causes for this disorder, research on the possible biologic risk factors for developing antisocial personality disorder indicates that, in those with antisocial personality disorder, the part of the brain that is primarily responsible for learning from one's mistakes and for responding to sad and fearful facial expressions (the amygdala) tends to be smaller and respond less robustly to the happy, sad, or fearful facial expressions of others. That lack of response may have something to do with the lack of empathy that antisocial individuals tend to...
References: NICE (2009) New NICE guidelines set to improve treatment and management of people with anti-social personality disorder. Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/media/187/2B/2009004AntisocialPersonalityDisorder.pdf (Accessed 28/06/12).
MedicineNet.com (2012) Anti-Social Personality Disorder Available at: http://www.medicinenet.com/antisocial_personality_disorder/page4.htm (Accessed 29/06/12).
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