Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a mental health condition that affects around 3% of the adult population. It is a condition that causes an individual to disregard social norms and the rights of others, leading to harmful or criminal behaviour. This disorder can cause significant distress for both the individual with the disorder and those around them. Therefore, seeking counselling can help people with ASPD understand their symptoms, develop coping skills, and improve their relationships.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the symptoms of ASPD include “a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 659). These symptoms include:
Repeatedly violating the law
Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
Irritability and aggressiveness
Reckless disregard for safety
Lack of remorse
It is essential to note that individuals with ASPD are not always violent or criminal. However, they may engage in behaviours that are harmful to themselves or others. ASPD is often diagnosed in people who have a history of conduct disorder during childhood, which can involve aggression towards animals, destruction of property, and bullying.
Common misconceptions about antisocial personality disorder
With the previous list of common traits found in people with antisocial personality disorder, it’s understandable that there will be some common misconceptions. Here are some of the most common:
Misconception: All people with ASPD are criminals.
Reality: While it is true that individuals with ASPD are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour, not all individuals with the disorder are criminals. It is essential to note that ASPD can manifest in different ways, and some individuals may engage in less severe forms of rule-breaking behaviour. Additionally, many people with ASPD never engage in criminal activity.
Misconception: People with ASPD are always manipulative.
Reality: While it is true that individuals with ASPD may engage in manipulative behaviour, not all people with the disorder are manipulative. It is important to recognise that manipulative behaviour is often a coping mechanism for individuals with ASPD who struggle with interpersonal relationships.
Misconception: ASPD is caused by bad parenting.
Reality: While upbringing can play a role in the development of ASPD, it is not the sole cause of the disorder. Research has shown that genetics and environmental factors, such as exposure to trauma, can also contribute to the development of ASPD.
Misconception: Therapy is not effective for individuals with ASPD.
Reality: While it can be challenging to treat ASPD, therapy can be effective in helping individuals with the disorder. Therapy can help individuals with ASPD learn coping skills, manage their emotions, and improve their relationships with others. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has been shown to be particularly effective for individuals with ASPD.
Misconception: People with ASPD cannot change.
Reality: While it is true that ASPD is a long-term condition, individuals with the disorder can make changes and improve their lives. With the right support and guidance, individuals with ASPD can learn to manage their symptoms, develop coping skills, and improve their relationships with others.
Research has shown that people with ASPD often have difficulty regulating their emotions, which can lead to impulsive and aggressive behaviour. A study published in the Journal of Personality Disorders found that individuals with ASPD showed “an increased level of impulsivity and emotional dysregulation” (Timmerman et al., 2018, p. 525). Therefore, counselling can help individuals with ASPD learn how to manage their emotions, improve their decision-making skills, and reduce impulsive behaviour.
In addition to emotion regulation, therapy can help individuals with ASPD develop empathy and improve their relationships with others. People with ASPD often struggle to understand or relate to the feelings and experiences of others. However, a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can help improve empathy in people with ASPD (Newhill et al., 2012, p. 994). CBT can help individuals with ASPD learn to identify and challenge their negative thoughts, which can improve their ability to understand and relate to others.
Finally, therapy can provide support and guidance for individuals with ASPD who are struggling with substance abuse or addiction. Substance abuse is a common issue among people with ASPD, and it can exacerbate symptoms of the disorder. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that people with ASPD who received therapy for their substance abuse had better outcomes than those who did not receive therapy (Darke et al., 2012, p. 462). Therefore, counselling can help individuals with ASPD overcome their addiction and reduce the negative impact of substance abuse on their lives.
In conclusion, ASPD can be a challenging condition to live with, but counselling can help individuals with the disorder learn how to manage their symptoms, improve their relationships, and overcome addiction. With the right support and guidance, individuals with ASPD can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.
If you have any questions about Antisocial Personality Disorder or are seeking counselling, do not hesitate to reach out to Community Counselling & Care. Our trained professionals are equipped to provide you with the support and guidance you need. Seeking help is a courageous step towards healing and improving your well-being. Remember, you do not have to go through this alone. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Darke, S., Kaye, S., Duflou, J., & Lappin, J. (2012). Clinical outcomes and treatment response among heroin users with antisocial personality disorder receiving methadone maintenance treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 42(4),