Psych M.D. - Antisocial Personality Disorder


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Term: Antisocial Personality Disorder
Definition (Myers): A personality disorder in which the person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even towards friends and family members. May be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist.
Definition (alternative): Antisocial Personality Disorder is a condition characterized by persistent disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood. Deceit and manipulation are central features of this disorder. For this diagnosis to be given, the individual must be at least 18, and must have had some symptoms of Conduct Disorder (i.e., delinquency) before age 15. This disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and very disabling or distressing. (The alternative definition is from http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis/p20-pe04.html .)
Contextual explanation:
  • People with the disorder were formerly called sociopaths or psychopaths.

  • They are typically portrayed as males with a lack of conscience who lie, cheat, steal, and engage in unrestrained sexual behavior--these behaviors show through before the age of 15.

  • Adults with this disorder are usually unable to keep a job, a stable marriage or family, etc... their behavior is thus described as antisocial.

  • Although this disorder is closely associated with criminals, most criminals do not have this disorder. One affected with this disorder cannot feel or think for anyone, including friends and family members.

  • Some examples of criminals with Antisocial Personality Disorder are Henry Lee Lucas and Elwood Toole; together, they killed and injured around 400 people in their lifelong killing sprees.

  • People with the disorder feel little and fear little; they usually don’t feel guilt or regret for a wrong that they had caused to another.

  • Biologically, they show little symptoms of stress and little autonomic nervous system arousal than others.

  • It is the lack of social responsibility that lead to crimes and homicides.

  • People with the disorder were shown to have less activity in the frontal lobes which deal with impulses; according to a study, individuals who were repeat violent criminal offenders had 11% less frontal lobe neural tissue than the average person would have. This explains why people with Antisocial Personality Disorder have problems with planning, organization, and inhibition--all functions of the frontal lobes.

  • Environment, such as premature birth, abuse, maltreatment, poverty, instability, and the like interact with biological factors such as an inherited mutation in the frontal lobe that causes less neural tissue to develop.
Related terms and concepts:
  • personality disorders

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This video gets much better 2 minutes after the beginning. :-)

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Edited by: Courteney



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