Antisocial Personality Disorder Causes, Statistics, Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder is a chronic mental health condition in which a person’s way of relating to others is abnormal and destructive, characterized by a pattern of criminal behavior, manipulation, and exploiting the rights of others.  Individuals suffering with antisocial personality disorder often have a criminal history, legal difficulties, and impulsive behaviors.  These behaviors typically begin in childhood or early adolescence and continue into adulthood.  The antisocial personality disorder is categorized under the dramatic/erratic cluster of personality disorders.  Other mental health illnesses can commonly coexist with antisocial personality disorder, such as anxiety disorder, sadistic personality disorder, depressive disorder, and impulse control disorder.  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV-TR), antisocial personality disorder can be diagnosed by the following criteria:

  • Pervasive patter of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since fifteen years of age.
  • The individual is at least eighteen years of age.
  • There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age fifteen years.
  • The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode

The diagnostic criterion involves many considerations.  If you or your loved one is possibly struggling with antisocial personality disorder, it is recommend that you follow up with a health specialist for a professional diagnosis.  As with any mental health disorder, this condition can be debilitating to your ability to live life normally, but resources are available for health, treatment, and recovery.

Statistics About Antisocial Personality Disorder

Statistics about antisocial personality disorder can shed light on this mental health issue, while creating greater awareness and understanding of this disease. The following are pertinent statistics about antisocial personality disorder that give great insight into this illness:

  • Some studies suggest that the social and home environment has contributed to the development of antisocial behavior.  Parents of these children have been shown to display antisocial behavior, which could be adopted by their children [1].
  • People with antisocial personality disorder are more likely than others to have been abused as children [1].
  • Antisocial personality disorder is seen in 3% to 30% of psychiatric outpatients [2].
  • A 2002 literature review of studies on mental disorders in prisoners state that 47% of male prisoners and 21% of female prisoners had antisocial personality disorder [3].
  • The occurrences of antisocial personality disorder is higher among patients in alcohol and other drug abuse treatment programs than in the general population [4].

Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder

The causes of antisocial personality disorder are unknown.  It is speculated that such factors, with genetic and environmental components, may contribute to the development of this condition.  One of the risk factors for the development of antisocial development disorder is child abuse, which is widely believed to a contributing factor to this mental illness.  An imbalance of hormones, containment in prison, or having family members who are alcoholic can also be possible factors that contribute to the development of antisocial personality disorder.  It is likely that antisocial disorder is not the direct cause of one factor, but rather, the result of a combination of factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Particular signs and symptoms will be evident if a man, woman, adolescent, or child is suffering with antisocial personality disorder.  If you or a loved one is struggling with antisocial personality disorder, these symptoms may help you better comprehend what you are dealing with or lead you to reach out for professional help.  Common signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include but are not limited to:

  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Lack of remorse about harming others
  • Manipulating others with wit or charm
  • Ongoing legal difficulties
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit
  • Abusive or poor relationships
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Irresponsible work behavior

If you or your loved one has been experiencing any of these above symptoms as a result of antisocial personality disorder, it is recommended that you seek medical and professional help to appropriately deal with the ramifications of these disorders.

Antisocial Personality Disorder Effects

Living with antisocial personality disorder can reap effects that can be damaging to the various aspects of your life, including your physical well-being, mental health, and social life.  The effects of antisocial personality disorder can be debilitating if not treated or addressed professionally.  If your loved one is suffering with antisocial personality disorder, you may better understand what they are going through by knowing how this mental illness is affecting their life.  The following are some of the effects of antisocial personality disorder:

Physical Effects – Antisocial personality disorder involves behaviors that can endanger the life of the sufferer and others involved in their life.  These are some physical effects that may be experienced:

  • Accidents that can result in injury or death due to reckless or impulsive behavior
  • Bodily damage due to aggressiveness or engagement in physical assaults
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Psychological Effects – Antisocial personality disorder involves possible psychological disturbances that can alter your mental health, particularly if it is left untreated.  Some of the psychological effects that may be experienced include:

  • Manic episodes
  • Mood instability or extremes
  • Severe depression
  • Dysregulation of emotions
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Suicidal ideations

Lastly, antisocial personality disorder will impact your ability to relate to others socially.  Effects of antisocial personality disorder on one’s social life include:

  • Damaged relationships with loved ones due to manipulation and destructive behaviors
  • Inability to initiate or maintain relationships
  • Isolation from others due to aggressive behavior
  • Decreased performance in work or school
  • Marital or familial conflicts

Antisocial Personality Disorder Treatment

While antisocial personality disorder can be one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat, there is still hope for treatment or recovery.  If you have a loved one that is suffering with antisocial personality disorder and is refusing treatment, take hope in knowing that there are resources available for help and healing from this mental health condition.  Fortunately, by seeking the appropriate help and care you or your loved one may need, there can be healing and hope from this mental illness.  An antisocial personality disorder treatment center can provide the tools and resources you need to recover and heal from any situation you may have endured.


[1]:  Black, D. (2006). What Causes Antisocial Personality Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2013, from

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on, Addiction Information