Antisocial personality disorder is a mental condition in which a person typically has no regard for right and wrong. People with this disorder are often referred to as psychopaths or sociopaths. Sociopath traits often include violence, aggression and a lack of remorse.
Some symptoms of antisocial personality disorder may be linked to other conditions, such as immaturity, substance abuse or other personality disorders. For this reason, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) states that an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis must meet very specific conditions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2010), only 1 percent of American adults fit the profile of a sociopath.
Profile of a Sociopath
People who display the most violent and aggressive symptoms of antisocial personality disorder tend to be young–in their early to mid twenties–because the intensity of symptoms often wane over time. Sociopaths are often charming indviduals who use social graces to manipulate others. Repeat trouble with the law is common. Sociopaths often have problems with relationships and are quick to evade responsibility.
Antisocial Personality Disorder Test
In order to receive an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis, an individual must pass a very specific “psychopath test.” The person must be at least 18 years old and must have met the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder before the age of 15.
In addition, the DSM-IV states that at least three of the following must be present:
- Consistent irresponsibility, such as a repeated inability to work consistently or honor financial obligations
- Deceitfulness, including repeated lying, use of aliases or conning people for personal gain
- Failure to conform to social norms and follow laws–for example, repeatedly acting in a way that could result in an arrest
- Failure to plan ahead or impulsive behavior
- Irritability and aggressiveness, such as regularly getting involved in physical fights or assaulting others
- Lack of remorse, including not caring about or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated or stolen from another person
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
Symptoms that resemble the profile of a sociopath could be caused by other conditions, which must be ruled out during an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis. These include borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders, as well as episodes of manic behavior and schizophrenia.
Long, P. (2008). Antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-pe04.html
Mayo Clinic. (2008). Antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antisocial-personality-disorder/DS00829
National Institute of Mental Health. (2010). The numbers count: Mental disorders in America. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml#Antisocial
Psychiatric News. (2004). DSM-IV TR diagnostic critieria for antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/39/1/25.2.full