Anti-social Personality Disorder (ASP): impulsivity, disregard for, and violation of, the rights and boundaries of others

Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All you need is a little push!

The Joker (Heath Ledger), The Dark Knight

We’ve all heard people call someone a ‘psychopath’ or a sociopath. Both, lack empathy or the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn’t define either of these ‘disorders’ because doctors don’t officially diagnose people as psychopaths or sociopaths, instead they use the term: anti-social personality disorder.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASP disorder) is a mental health illness that usually becomes apparent during adolescence, typically before the age of fifteen.

Symptoms usually include antisocial behavior in which there is little concern for the rights of others, such as, an indifference to moral or legal standards. Behavior patterns usually include excessive drinking, fighting and irresponsibility. In real life, some people with antisocial personality disorder can be violent, but most are not. Instead they use manipulation, exploitations and reckless behavior to get what they want.

For a diagnosis, some clinicians insist that the behavioral pattern(s) must be exhibited during childhood. Some clinicians also believe that genetic makeup contributes to the cause of the disorder, but a detailed understanding of the cause remains elusive.

Therapy can help manage some of the symptoms and side effects, particularly in milder cases. But it’s unusual for a sociopath to seek professional help, largely due to the curious lack of insight a sufferer has. They may recognize that they have problems. They notice that they get into trouble. They may know that their spouses are not happy with them. They know that they get into trouble on the job. But they tend to blame other people and other circumstances.

The good news is that symptoms of ASP seem to recede with age, especially among milder sociopaths and those that don’t do drugs or drink to excess.

Perhaps one of the most well-known signs of ASP is a lack of empathy, particularly an inability to feel remorse for one’s actions — people with ASP do seem to lack a conscience, but not all of them. When you don’t experience remorse, you’re freed up to do anything—anything bad that comes to mind.

Also, people with ASP find it hard to form emotional bonds, so their relationships are often unstable and chaotic. Rather than forge connections with the people in their lives, they might try to exploit them for their own benefit through deceit, coercion, and intimidation.

Callousness is another sign of ASP. Some suffered might be openly violent and aggressive, others will cut you down verbally. Either way, people with ASP tend to show a cruel disregard for other people’s feelings.

Irresponsibility is also a trait of an ASP suffer — a disregard for financial and social obligations. Ignoring responsibilities is extremely common, for example, not paying child support when it’s due, allowing bills to pile up, and regularly taking time off work.

If you know recognize these traits in someone, they could potentially have ASP. The best thing to do is steer clear of them — avoid them as best you can.

If you suspect that you may have an antisocial mental health disorder, seek professional help!

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