Antisocial personality disorder is a social, biological, and environmental disorder that can lead people to social isolation, incarceration, institutionalization, and more. Commonly confused with being psychopathic, being antisocial can lead to a life of problematic behaviors with little understanding about the source. Many people diagnosed with psychopathy can meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, but not the other way around. Antisocial personality disorder is aggressive and behavioral as opposed to being an issue of personality.
Empathy is a human to human connection in one which one person, through intuitive feeling, can identify with another person’s struggle. Characteristically, people with antisocial personality disorder entirely lack empathy. In essence, they are completely oblivious to another’s emotional state, even the fact that another person has emotions. Think of it like this: like a robot with ‘artificial intelligence’ struggling to understand why they do not ‘feel’ in the same way humans do.
What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?
That detachment from empathy and humanity takes a step further in another characterization of antisocial personality disorder which is manipulation. At times it is intentional, other times it is unconscious. By manners of deceit or otherwise, people with antisocial personality disorder tend to disregard morality, and right from wrong. They have no bearings in why lying to get what one wants is a bad thing. Think of it like this: a young child watches a mother cry in front of a police officer who has pulled her over for speeding. She tells the officer an elaborate story until he decides to let her go with a warning. The child then learns that it is acceptable to lie in order to achieve a particular result.
Likely, someone with antisocial personality disorder isn’t going to feel badly about their behaviors. After all, they are impaired in their ability to gauge acceptable and inacceptable behavior. Lacking a scale to weigh their actions on, they are left without evidence for feeling badly. Other behaviors will include manipulation, deceit, complete disregard for responsibility and consequence, aggression, and impulsivity.
The portrait painted of someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder is grim. Disconnected from the things that make humans human and part of society, they seem lost. Recovery will bring many different personality types into one space. Learning to have empathy for others, and accountability for the self, is important for carrying on every day.
Antisocial personality disorder is treatable, but requires diligence, patience, and hard work on behalf of a treatment team.