Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is a condition that affects a person's thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Antisocial means behaving in a way that can be disruptive and may be harmful to other people.

Antisocial personality disorder is not usually diagnosed before the age of 18 but characteristics of the disorder can be recognised in younger people as conduct problems. Early treatment of children (aged 5-11 years) and young people (aged 12-17 years) with conduct problems could help to prevent antisocial personality disorder from developing later.

People with antisocial personality disorder may often grow up in fractured families where parental conflict is present and parenting is harsh and inconsistent. As a result of parental inadequacies and/or the child's difficult behaviour, the child's care can be interrupted and transferred to agencies outside the family. This may lead to truancy, having delinquent associates and substance misuse, which might result in increased rates of unemployment, poor and unstable housing situations, and irregularity in relationships in adulthood.

The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder can include:

  • behaving unlawfully or offending behaviour, leading to repeatedly being arrested and convicted
  • deceiving peoplebehaving angrily and aggressively
  • feeling agitated or depressed a lot of the time, and easily bored
  • being impulsive (doing something without thinking of the consequences)
  • behaving irresponsibly and exploiting or manipulating other people
  • not caring about the safety and feelings of other people
  • not feeling remorse when causing harm to others.

Not everyone with antisocial personality disorder will have all these symptoms, some may also have other conditions such as depression, anxiety, and problems with drugs and alcohol.

The advice in the NICE guidelines CG77 covers the care, treatment and support that people with antisocial personality disorder and their families or carers should be offered, and the care and treatment that children with conduct problems and their families or carers should be offered. It does not specifically look at treatments not normally available in the NHS or prison health services.