Test your knowledge of antisocial personality disorder by checking out these myths. Is it sociopathy? What about psychopathy? Could it be both? Learn more here.

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), informally known as sociopaths, have a habit of behaving without considering the rights of others. Although people may refer to loners as being antisocial, an official diagnosis of ASPD must come from a health care professional. 

Some individuals with ASPD may commit violent crimes. However, it is a misconception to believe that all people with antisocial personality disorder are violent criminals. People with ASPD usually need encouragement to seek help. Thus, it is important to understand antisocial personality disorder myths. 

Popular facts and myths about antisocial personality disorder are discussed below.

Myth #1: Antisocial personality disorder is untreatable.

Fact: Treatment for antisocial personality disorder is difficult, but can be effective.

Personality disorders, like ASPD, cannot be cured, but treatment can improve symptoms. Treatment options for antisocial personality disorder include medications and therapy. The medications prescribed most often for antisocial personality disorder are aggression-reducing medications, like phenytoin, and mood stabilizer medications, like quetiapine. Antisocial personality disorder therapy treatments attempt to help individuals with ASPD relate to others. 

Therapies for antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

One hindrance to successful treatment can be co-occurring disorders like substance use or alcohol abuse. People with ASPD have a high rate of co-occurring substance abuse and addiction

Myth #2: Antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder are the same.

Fact: Antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder are two different personality disorders.

Antisocial personality disorder is a cluster B personality disorder, while avoidant personality disorder is a cluster C personality disorder. The clusters, of which there are three, separate personality disorders based on differences. 

Social interactions are difficult for both antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder. A person with ASPD has trouble with relationships because they act without considering the feeling with others. By contrast, a person with avoidant personality disorder avoids intimacy and relationships out of fear that they will be judged or rejected. 

Related Topic: Avoidant personality disorder treatment

Myth #3: Antisocial personality disorder is an excuse for poor behavior.

Fact: Individuals with antisocial personality disorder know the difference between right and wrong.

People with ASPD have a working conscience but may choose to ignore it. Thus, ASPD is not an excuse for bad behavior. The main behavior patterns associated with antisocial personality disorder are: 

  • Misrepresentation of self for gain
  • Impulsivity
  • Breaking the law
  • Aggression
  • Impenitence
  • Financial irresponsibility
  • Recklessness
  • Promiscuity

Many individuals with ASPD do end up in trouble with the law. The rate of criminal behavior among those with antisocial personality disorder is high. However, not all criminals have ASPD.

Myth #4: Individuals with ASPD are psychopaths.

Fact: A person who is ASPD can be described as a sociopath.

First of all, psychopathy and sociopathy are not psychiatric diagnoses. The word “psychopath” is commonly used to refer to someone who is amoral and antisocial. By contrast, the word “sociopath” is used to describe someone with antisocial behaviors. 

Psychopathy is sometimes used to describe a person with severe sociopathy. The main difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is that sociopaths and people with ASPD have a working conscience. 

Psychopaths have these traits:

  • Lack of remorse
  • Ruthlessness
  • Recklessness
  • Narcissism
  • Fake charm
  • Manipulativeness
  • Dishonesty
  • Insensitiveness

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder do have some of these psychopathic traits. However, antisocial personality disorder is the psychiatric diagnosis closest to sociopathy. 

Sociopaths have these traits:

  • Manipulativeness
  • Dishonesty
  • Insensitiveness
  • Weak conscience

Myth #5: Antisocial personality disorder cannot be prevented.

Fact: Early identification of antisocial behaviors can lead to intervention and possible prevention of ASPD in some individuals.

Antisocial personality disorder can be prevented in some individuals. Scientists studied young children with a history of antisocial behavior. Intervention reduced the likelihood that those children would still have antisocial characteristics during their teenage years. The intervention also improved reading ability. 

Interestingly, the intervention to prevent ASPD did not involve the child with antisocial behaviors. In the study, parents were the solution to how to prevent antisocial personality disorder. Parents of antisocial children were provided with training that included:

  • How to play
  • What are appropriate rewards
  • How to give praise
  • How to set limits
  • How to deal with misbehavior

The scientists observed that the trained parents provided better supervision and expressed warmer emotions than the untrained parents. Thus, parenting intervention can prevent ASPD.

If you or someone you are close to is affected by a drug or alcohol addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition, please call The Recovery Village. We have comprehensive treatment plans that can help you gain control of your life, and get you on the road to success.

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Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more

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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.