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Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Antisocial Personality Disorder

(Psychopathy; Sociopathy; ASPD)


Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a mental health problem. It leads to a pattern of deceit, disrespect, and recklessness. People with ASPD may not have concern for the harm they cause.

Treatment may help manage ASPD.


The exact cause of ASPD is not clear. Life events, family life, and genes may all play a role.

Prefrontal Cortex.

Prefrontal cortex brainhttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=72987298si2047.jpgsi2047.jpgNULLjpgsi2047.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si2047.jpgNULL29NULL2008-11-072614007298_96473Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

ASPD is more common in men. It is also more common in those with:

  • Conduct disorder as a child
  • Family members who have ASPD
  • Past abuse or neglect
  • Antisocial behavior in their fathers
  • Family dysfunction


Symptoms of ASPD may include:

  • Repeated law breaking
  • Misleading and lying
  • Bullying or cruelty to animals and/or other humans
  • Destroying other people's things
  • Theft

People with ASPD tend to:

  • Do things without thinking them through
  • Be irritable and aggressive
  • Lack concern for others
  • Disregard safety
  • Be irresponsible about work, family, or money
  • Lack guilt about hurting others
  • Lack concern for the results of their actions/behavior
  • Not learn or change behavior based on past events


The doctor will ask about past health, behaviors, and problems.

A mental health professional will likely diagnose ASPD. A complete mental health exam will be done. It will look for other mental health issues too.


ASPD is a chronic problem. Some symptoms, like criminal behavior, may decrease slowly on their own with age. This disorder can be hard to treat. People with ASPD are not likely to seek treatment on their own. It often comes as part of a criminal justice system.

Counseling is used with ASPD. Examples are:

  • Group therapy—to learn skills to interact with others.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification—to change patterns of thinking that are causing problems. It will also encourage positive behaviors.

Other problems like substance abuse may also need treatment.

Medicine may be part of treatment. It can help manage some symptoms such as anger or impulsiveness. The type of medicine will depend on the person's needs.


There are no steps to prevent ASPD.





  • Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). Cleveland Clinic website. Available at:https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9657-antisocial-personality-disorder.
  • Bateman AW, Gunderson J, Mulder R. Treatment of personality disorder. Lancet. 2015 Feb 21;385(9969):735-43.
  • Holzer KJ, Vaughn MG. Antisocial personality disorder in older adults: a critical review. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2017;30(6):291-302.
  • Overview of Class B personality disorder (ASPD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/overview-of-cluster-b-personality-disorders.


  • Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.