Antisocial personality disorder
Antisocial personality disorder (APD or ASPD) is a psychiatric diagnosis that interprets antisocial and impulsive behaviours as symptoms of a personality disorder. Psychiatry defines only pathological antisocial behavior; it does not address potential benefits of positive antisocial behavior or define the meaning of 'social' in contrast to 'antisocial'. more...
Professional psychiatry generally compares APD to sociopathy and psychopathic disorders (not to be confused with psychosis). Approximately 3% of men and 1% of women are thought to have some form of antisocial personality disorder according to DSM-IV.
A common misconception is that many of the individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder can be found in prisons. It should be noted that criminal activity does not automatically warrant a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, nor does a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder imply that a person is a criminal. It is hypothesized that many high achievers exhibit antisocial personality disorder characteristics. This, however, brings much criticism upon the diagnostic criteria specified for those exhibiting antisocial personality disorder and the PCL-R. Both of these tests depend upon the person in question being a criminal or having participated in criminal activities.
Research has shown that individuals with antisocial personality disorder are indifferent to the possibility of physical pain or many punishments, and show no indications that they experience fear when so threatened; this may explain their apparent disregard for the consequences of their actions, and their lack of empathy to the suffering of others.
Central to understanding individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder is that they do not appear to experience true human emotions, or at least, they do not appear to experience a full range of human emotions. This can explain the lack of empathy for the suffering of others, since they cannot experience emotion associated with either empathy or suffering. Risk-seeking behavior and substance abuse may be attempts to escape feeling empty or emotionally void. The rage exhibited by psychopaths and the anxiety associated with certain types of antisocial personality disorder may represent the limit of emotion experienced, or there may be physiological responses without analogy to emotion experienced by others.
One approach to explaining antisocial personality disorder behaviors is put forth by sociobiology, a science that attempts to understand and explain a wide variety of human behavior based on evolutionary biology. One route to doing so is by exploring evolutionarily stable strategies; that is, strategies that being successful will tend to be passed on to the next generation, thus becoming more common in the gene pool. For example, in one well-known 1995 paper by Linda Mealey, chronic antisocial/criminal behavior is explained as a combination of two such strategies.
According to the older theory of Freudian psychoanalysis, a sociopath has a strong id and ego that overpowers the superego. The theory proposes that internalized morals of our unconscious mind are restricted from surfacing to the ego and consciousness.
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