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Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)

22 September, 2015 - 16:20

In contrast to borderline personality disorder, which involves primarily feelings of inadequacy and a fear of abandonment,antisocial personality disorder (APD) is characterized by a disregard of the rights of others, and a tendency to violate those rights without being concerned about doing so. APD is a pervasivpattern of violation of therights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescencand continues into adulthood. APD is about three times more likely to be diagnosed in men than in women. To be diagnosed with APD the person must be 18 years of age or older a nd have a documented history of conduct disorder before the age of 15. People having antisocial personality disorder are sometimes referred to as “sociopaths” or “psychopaths.”

People with APD feel little distress for the pain they cause others. They lie, engage in violence against animals and people, and frequently have drug and alcohol abuse problems. They are egocentric and frequently impulsive, for instance suddenly changing jobs or relationships. People with APD soon end up with a criminal record and often spend time incarcerated. The intensity of antisocial symptoms tends to peak during the 20s and then may decrease over time.

Biological and environmental factors are both implicated in the development of antisocial personality disorder (Rhee & Waldman, 2002). 1 Twin and adoption studies suggest a genetic predisposition (Rhee & Waldman, 2002), 2 and biological abnormalities include low autonomic activity during stress, biochemical imbalances, right hemisphere abnormalities, and reduced gray matter in the frontal lobes (Lyons-Ruth et al., 2007; Raine, Lencz, Bihrle, LaCasse, & Colletti, 2000). 3 Environmental factors include neglectful and abusive parenting styles, such as the use of harsh and inconsistent discipline and inappropriate modeling (Huesmann & Kirwil, 2007). 4


  • A personality disorder is a disorder characterized by inflexible patterns of thinking, feeling, or relating to others that causes problems in personal, social, and work situations.
  • Personality disorders are categorized into three clusters: those characterized by odd or eccentric behavior, dramatic or erratic behavior, and anxious or inhibited behavior.
  • Although they are considered as separate disorders, the personality disorders are essentially milder versions of more severe Axis I disorders.
  • Borderlinepersonalitydisorderis a prolonged disturbance of personality accompanied by mood swings, unstable personal relationships, and identity problems, and it is often associated with suicide.
  • Antisocialpersonalitydisorderis characterized by a disregard of others’ rights and a tendency to violate those rights without being concerned about doing so.


  1. What characteristics of men and women do you think make them more likely to have APD and BDP, respectively? Do these differences seem to you to be more genetic or more environmental?
  2. Do you know people who suffer from antisocial personality disorder? What behaviors do they engage in, and why are these behaviors so harmful to them and others?