Antisocial Personality Disorder: Causes And Treatment

Normally, when a person finds it difficult to interact with others or does not show interest in doing so, we usually say that they are antisocial. In psychology, the word antisocial is used to refer to a mental illness known as antisocial personality disorder that usually appears in adolescence, usually before the age of 15. Antisocial behavior is characterized by indifference to social and legal norms and violation of the rights of others. It is usually related to alcohol consumption, irresponsibility and impulsivity. In this PsychologyFor article, we are going to detail what they are. The causes and treatment of antisocial personality disorder.

Causes of antisocial personality disorder

Today we do not know what causes antisocial personality disorder. Determining the causes of this disorder is complicated, since personality is built throughout the person’s development and requires taking into account a large number of variables. Some researchers propose the biopsychosocial model, that is, the causes of antisocial personality disorder are probably due to the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors.

Some of the more or less accepted hypotheses can be grouped into two areas:

Psychosocial factors

Mainly, we talk about ineffective parenting styles. On the one hand, it is proposed that those people who have antisocial personality disorder frequently have hostile parents who interact with them through the abuse or mistreatment. Witnessing these parental models from a young age can cause that child to repeat those patterns as an adult.

On the other hand, we talk about the other extreme, absent or very permissive parents. These prevent the child from learning that there are limits and from thinking that they can do whatever they want at all times, and that when faced with a refusal (something they are not used to), their reaction is inappropriate.

Having presented the conduct disorder in childhoodincreases the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder.

Other authors hypothesize that these people would not have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see things from different perspectives due to alterations in the pace of cognitive development.

Biological factors

There is research that shows the presence of a genetic component. There is talk of failures in frontal and prefrontal activation, areas related to inhibition and processes such as planning, decision-making…, which would explain the impulsivity characteristic of the disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Causes and Treatment - Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder

Some of the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are:

  • Lying or deceiving in order to take advantage of others.
  • Being cynical, disrespectful and cruel.
  • Feeling of superiority and obstinacy.
  • Problems with the law.
  • Using charm to manipulate others for personal pleasure or benefit.
  • Violate the rights of others through intimidation.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Hostility, significant irritability and aggressiveness.
  • Lack of empathy and remorse for hurting others.
  • Not considering the negative consequences of their behavior.

Symptoms of antisocial behavior include serious and persistent behavioral problemsas:

  • Aggression to people and animals.
  • Destruction of property.
  • Heist.
  • Violation of important rules.

Treatment of antisocial personality disorder

Treatment of people with antisocial personality disorder is complicated. The person who has this disorder does not usually see the need for treatment, and in most cases it is the family or the courts who decide to initiate treatment. Therefore, in these cases, the treatment is seen by the person as something imposed, which suggests that they will not be very cooperative.

Psychological treatment

Due to the lack of collaboration from the person mentioned above, the therapy must present to the patient the advantages of this, what and how it is going to be done, as well as making explicit the need for change and the advantages and disadvantages that the change would imply in their life.

There are several types of therapies:

  • There is evidence of the cognitive-behavioral therapy along with training in social skills and problem solving, emotional regulation and frustration.
  • The group therapy It has given good results, it allows the person to be able to interact with other people without aggression. The therapy would begin by treating how our behavior influences others and, subsequently, the objective will be to increase the ability to think about others (empathy). This can be worked on with role reversal and telling your life story.

In a complementary way, you can work with the person’s immediate environment to improve coping strategies and establish limits on the person’s behavior.


There is no specific drug treatment for antisocial personality disorder. Drugs would be used to combat specific symptoms, such as aggression or mood regulation, but they do not solve the problem, since the characteristic behaviors of this disorder are reinforced day by day in the person’s life and act on a specific symptom is not enough. We can understand medication as a kind of support for a certain moment.

Something that must be taken into account, since it makes treatment difficult, is the consumption of psychoactive substances.

Antisocial Personality Disorder: Causes and Treatment - Antisocial Personality Disorder Treatment

This article is merely informative, at PsychologyFor we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Antisocial personality disorder: causes and treatment we recommend that you enter our Clinical Psychology category.


Holguín Mendoza, Tomás Efrén, & Palacios Casados, Juan Jorge. (2014). The genetics of antisocial personality disorder: A review of the literature. Mental health, 37(1), 83-91.

Bateman, W., Gunderson, J., Mulder, R. Treatment of personality disorder. Journal of Drug Addiction, 77. 2016

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