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What is a Sociopath? Another Name for Anti-social Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder is also known as psychopathy or sociopathy. Individuals with this disorder have little regard for the feeling and welfare of others. As a clinical diagnosis it is usually limited to those over age 18. It can be diagnosed in younger people if the they commit isolated antisocial acts and do not show signs of another mental disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is chronic, beginning in adolescence and continuing throughout adulthood. There are ten general symptoms:

  • not learning from experience
  • no sense of responsibility
  • inability to form meaningful relationships
  • inability to control impulses
  • lack of moral sense
  • chronically antisocial behavior
  • no change in behavior after punishment
  • emotional immaturity
  • lack of guilt
  • self-centeredness

People with this disorder may exhibit criminal behavior. They may not work. If they do work, they are frequently absent or may quit suddenly. They do not consider other people's wishes, welfare or rights. They can be manipulative and may lie to gain personal pleasure or profit. They may default on loans, fail to provide child support, or fail to care for their dependents adequately. High risk sexual behavior and substance abuse are common. Impulsiveness, failure to plan ahead, aggressiveness, irritability, irresponsibility, and a reckless disregard for their own safety and the safety of others are traits of the antisocial personality.

Socioeconomic status, gender, and genetic factors play a role. Males are more likely to be antisocial than females. Those from lower socioeconomic groups are more susceptible. A family history of the disorder puts one at higher risk.

There are many theories about the cause of Antisocial Personality Disorder including experiencing neglectful parenting as a child, low levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and belief that antisocial behavior is justified because of difficult circumstances. Psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy are common treatments. The effects of medical treatment are inconclusive. Unfortunately, most people with Antisocial Personality Disorder reject treatment. Therefore, recovery rates are low.

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