Antisocial Personality Disorder



The exact cause is not clear. Life event, family environment, and genes may all play a role.

Prefrontal Cortex
Prefrontal cortex brain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



Behaviors common to those with antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Repeated law breaking
  • Deceitfulness, repeated lying
  • Bullying or cruelty to animals and/or other humans
  • Destruction of property
  • Theft

People with antisocial personality disorder tend to have:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Inability to feel sympathy or empathy for others
  • Disregard for safety of oneself or others
  • Irresponsibility regarding work, family, or finances
  • Lack of guilt over hurting others
  • Lack of concern for consequences of actions/behavior
  • Inability to learn from experience or change behavior based on past events


The doctor will ask about behaviors and problems that have happened. Some specific questions will help the doctor focus the diagnosis. A person must be at least 18 years old to have a diagnosis of personality disorder. Conduct disorder causes similar symptoms in those younger than age 15.

A psychiatrist or other mental health professional will likely make the diagnosis. A complete mental health exam will be done. It will look for other mental health issues that may be present.



Antisocial personality disorder is a chronic condition. However, some symptoms, especially criminal behavior, may decrease slowly on their own with age. This disorder can be difficult to treat. People with antisocial personality disorder are not likely to seek treatment on their own. It often comes as part of a criminal justice system.

Psychotherapy are used with antisocial personality disorder. Examples are:

  • Group therapy—to learn skills to interact with others.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and behavior modification—to change patterns of thinking that are causing problems. Will also encourage positive behaviors.

Treatment will also be needed for any other mental health issues like substance abuse. It can improve quality of life.

Medicine may be part of the treatment plan. They can help manage some symptoms such as irritability or impulse control. The type of medicine will depend on the individual needs.


There are no steps to prevent antisocial personality disorder since the cause is not clear.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.