What is antisocial personality disorder?

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Author: Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

 

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A personality disorder is a pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that last for a long time and causes some sort of problem or distress.

Antisocial personality disorder or ASPD affects the way people think about the rights of others. Someone with ASPD may disregard laws or expectations, lack remorse when they hurt others or break the law, make reckless decisions, and believe they are superior to others. People may see someone with ASPD as overly dramatic, impulsive, manipulative, and deceitful. Some people may appear charming, at least on the surface. Like all mental illnesses, antisocial personality disorder is a spectrum. Some people may only occasionally act out, while others may break the law often and spend a lot of time in the criminal justice system.

ASPD is only diagnosed in adults, but people with ASPD start to have problems with conduct or antisocial behaviours at a young age. They may be diagnosed with conduct disorder during childhood.

Treatment for antisocial personality disorder, usually psychotherapy, can help reduce the harms of ASPD and help people build empathy towards others. ASPD is treatable and it may improve as a person approaches middle age.

All of us have hurt someone else or acted without thinking of others' needed. It’s important to remember that antisocial personality disorder is an enduring pattern around lack of empathy and lack of remorse. Only a doctor or mental health professional can diagnose illnesses like ASPD.

To find help for antisocial personality disorder, talk to your family doctor, find a psychologist through the BC Psychological Association, or call 811 to talk to a HealthLink BC navigator.

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The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.

 

 
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