Antisocial sounds almost basic, doesn’t it? Usually, we use the term to explain someone who comes off as standoffish, prefers to be alone, and wants nothing to do with anyone.
“Ugh, he’s so antisocial. Don’t even invite him.”
“I’m super antisocial. I hate people.”
While the word antisocial is simplified as a person who prefers being alone over being with other people, antisocial personality disorder is altogether a very different thing. It's actually a lot more serious than that -- knowing what antisocial personality disorder is would make anyone rethink those flippant statements above.
Antisocial personality disorder involves an individual who violates, manipulates and exploits other people’s rights, often to the point of criminal behavior. This person may look and seem charming and likeable, but are actually very aggressive, irresponsible, thoughtless and aggravated. What makes this person challenging to know and deal with is that because they’re so often manipulative, it can be hard to tell whether they’re lying or actually being truthful.
Symptoms of antisocial personality disorder usually start showing up by the time a person is 15. Some of the traits they may exhibit are callousness and disrespect for others; persistent lying; no regard for right or wrong; arrogance; using manipulation tactics for their own personal gain; violence; impulsivity; and ongoing problems with the law. They may be highly opinionated, feel a sense of superiority and violate others’ rights through dishonesty or intimidation. They may have little or no empathy.
There are no ways to truly know what causes antisocial personality disorder, but it has been assessed that there are more men with the disorder than women, especially those who have a history of substance abuse. Disorderly behavior in childhood or a family history of mental illness may also have a hand in the development of antisocial personality disorder.
There are treatment options for antisocial personality disorder, but no medications specifically for it – rather, medication is available for specific symptoms that exist within it, like aggression or mood swings. The best path is typically psychotherapy, so that the person is guided to actually change their behavior.