Antisocial personality disorderAntisocial personality disorder
is a personality disorder
listed in the DSM-IV
. It is generally considered to be the same as, or similar to, the disorder that was previously known as psychopathic
It is characterised by a number of symptoms:
- Failure to conform to social norms or lawful behaviors
- Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
- Irresponsibility, impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- Irritability and aggression, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
- Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.
Some research has shown that individuals with APD are indifferent to the threat of physical pain
, and show no indications of fear
when so threatened; this may explain their apparent disregard for the consequences of their actions, and their lack of empathy
for the suffering
Although criminal activity is not a necessary requirement for the diagnosis, these individuals often encounter legal difficulties due to their disregard
for societal standards and the rights of others. Therefore, many of these
individuals can be found in prisons. However, it should be noted that
criminal activity does not automatically warrant a diagnosis of APD.
Psychopaths in popular fiction and movies generally possess a number of standard characteristics which are not necessarily as common amongst real-life psychopaths. The traditional "Hollywood psychopath" is likely to exhibit some or all of the following traits.
It is this last feature which is probably most at odds with the typical real-life psychopath: an individual with APD is much more likely to be impulsive, disorganised and short-tempered rather than the smooth-talking self-disciplined character portrayed by Anthony Hopkins or Kiefer Sutherland.
- High intelligence, and a preference for intellectual stimulation (music, fine art etc.)
- A somewhat vain, stylish, almost "cat-like" demeanor.
- Prestige, or a successful career or position.
- A calm, calculating and always-in-control attitude.