Antisocial personality disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is characterised by a lack of conscience, no respect for others and the belief that conventional morality does not apply. To the sufferer of this disorder, other people are regarded as weak and deserving of being taken advantage of; they are seen as objects to be manipulated. A common misconception is that those with antisocial personality disorder have poor social skills, but this is incorrect - they simply have no respect or desire to abide by social norms.
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Those with antisocial personality disorder find it difficult to accept that other people have the ability to think for themselves and have their own ideas and emotions. They lack empathy and remorse and can be considered as dangerous. Substance abuse and alcoholism are common with those with the disorder, as they attempt to relieve tension, boredom and irritability. Rarely is a job held for long and responsibilities are not considered important.
Criminal acts are common with those suffering from this disorder. Lying, cheating and conning others, even those closest to them, occur frequently and jail is a common outcome. Individuals rationalise their behaviour, showing the dysfunction of conscience and the lack of remorse. Often the sufferer will take actions without thinking through the consequences, only caring about their own feelings. Impulsive and irresponsible behaviour typify those with antisocial personality disorder.
Signs of an antisocial personality disorder
- failure to conform to social norms
- lack of remorse
- reckless disregard of self or others.
Causes of antisocial personality disorder
The cause of antisocial personality disorder is currently unknown, however environmental, genetic factors and child abuse are believed to significantly contribute to this disorder. Children with antisocial or alcoholic parents are also more prone to developing the disorder. The diagnosis is limited to those over 18 years of age, however there is usually a history of similar behaviours before age 15.
Treatment for antisocial personality disorder
Antisocial personality disorder is recognised as being one the most difficult of all personality disorders to treat. Psychotherapy is often the treatment of choice for this disorder, however individuals rarely seek treatment on their own and may only begin therapy when mandated by a court.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
At present there are no regulations that stipulate what level of training or qualifications a counsellor needs for treating antisocial personality disorder. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have developed a set of guidelines that provide advice about the recommended treatments, including the following:
- You may be offered psychological treatment in order to help you with problems such as impulsive and antisocial behaviour, and if you have problems relating to other people. Psychological treatment can help you to make positive changes to your thought processes and your behaviour.
- If you have a history of offending behaviour, you may be offered a psychological treatment (such as one called 'reasoning and rehabilitation') that can help you to reduce offending and other antisocial behaviour. People with very serious and extreme symptoms (such as psychopathy and severe personality disorder) may also be offered this treatment.
- You should not usually be offered medication just to treat antisocial personality disorder or for any related symptoms or behaviour, such as aggression, anger and impulsive behaviour. This is because there is no evidence that medication helps to relieve the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder and it may cause side effects.
Read the full NICE guidelines:
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