The name “Antisocial” does not adequately explain the disorder. It is similar to calling an aggressively trained pit bull, an unfriendly puppy. The former names of psychopath or sociopath are much more understandable and create a more immediate comprehension. Since APDs (Antisocial Personality Disorder) tend not to care too much about what other people think, this name is not likely the result of political correctness.
So what is APD? Here is the technical DSM-V definition:
- A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
- Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
- Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicted by repeated physical fights or assaults
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
- Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
- Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
- Must be 18 years old
- Evidence of conduct disorder before 15 years old
- Behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
The practical definition looks more like this:
- No regard for morality of others, little to no conscious
- Lies all the time, pathologically
- Uses charm to manipulate or control
- Sense of superiority in being able to out-think or out-calculate others
- Recurring difficulties with all authority
- Repeatedly violates the rights of others through intimidation and abuse
- Hostility, aggression or violence
- No empathy or remorse about causing harm, justifies criminal behavior
- Dangerous, risky and criminal behaviors
- Abusive in relationships
- Irresponsible work behavior, likes to take advantage of others at work
- Failure to learn from the negative consequences
An extreme example of this person is Anthony Hopkins in his role as Hannibal in “Silence of the Lambs” or Angelina Jolie in her role as Lisa in “Girl, Interrupted”. Both of them did an excellent job portraying APD. Several studies have estimated that anywhere between 50-75% of the prison population has APD.
Here is how to deal with a person who might have APD:
- Because they are gifted liars, don’t believe what they say. Actions speak louder than words.
- Don’t waste time being fake in front of them; they can smell a phony a mile away.
- Be direct, firm and calmly unwavering in decisions.
- No emotion or empathy, they see this as weakness.
- Their stories of people they have harmed is an intimidation tactic, show no reaction.
- They threaten violence when backed into a corner, don’t look away as they can smell fear.
- Don’t underestimate them; alcohol/drugs can empower and physically strengthen them.
- Don’t threaten back; it is a waste of time. If it is said, “I’m going to call the police” then do it.
Counseling is very helpful in learning to deal with a person who has APD. Relationships with APDs are not easy and often require boundaries with steel reinforcement and a strong support network. This is not a time to tough it out alone.