Personality disorders are a group of mental illnesses that alter the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with other mental health conditions, such as depression, may experience symptoms that undermine their ability to feel good or to have normal relationships. Personality disorders, by contrast, affect a person's entire personality and their ability to function in culturally "normal" ways across many contexts.
Children cannot be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Children with a pattern of disregarding the rights and needs of others may be diagnosed with a conduct disorder.
Signs and symptoms
A person cannot be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder based on a single action. Behaviours that are explained by something else, such as addiction, trauma, or a cognitive disability, will also not be diagnosed as antisocial personality disorder. People with antisocial personality disorder struggle to follow or understand social rules about how to interact with others. They fail to see other people as beings worthy of consideration, kindness, or rights. They may not feel empathy or guilt. However, not all people with antisocial personality disorder act on these emotions, nor do all people who violate the rights of others have a mental health condition.
Causes and risk factors
While the exact cause of antisocial personality disorder is unknown, genetic, environmental, and cultural factors may all play a role in its development. People who are exposed to childhood trauma, whose parents have a personality disorder, or whose parents had an alcohol addiction appear to be more vulnerable to developing antisocial personality disorder. It also affects more men than women.