How to Recognize Antisocial Personality Disorder

Chianti, anyone?
Chianti, anyone? (Image:

If you've witnessed the character of one insidious fiend such as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, 'Jigsaw' John Kramer in Saw, or American Psycho Patrick Bateman, you've gotten a glimpse into the mental workings of a person with Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Often labeled psychopaths or sociopaths, people with this disorder function on an entirely different plane of existence than the rest of us. Official diagnosis in usually not determined until the affected individual reaches adulthood, however, there are several telltale signs that indicate the presence of this disturbing disorder.

Things You'll Need

  • Observation skills
  • Patience
  • Research
  • Time

Educate yourself. If you, a family member or someone you know has been afflicted with mental issues for many years without a definitive diagnosis, this uncertainty can slowly unravel any sense of normalcy you may have ever had. When dealing with psychological disorders, it is imperative that you be educated. Read every book available on the disorder-this applies to all psychological disorders, not just Antisocial Personality Disorder. Do research online. Visit support forums and groups.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a deceptive disease that takes on a chameleon-like skin. It can be masked by less disturbing disorders, such as Oppositional/Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder and more. This constantly changing appearance, however, is a main characteristic of the Antisocial personality, and one of the reasons that it can be so difficult to diagnose properly.

To gain a better understanding of Antisocial Personality Disorder, you need to know the range of symptoms and signs. While any of these characteristics, alone, do not define this disorder, the presence of many or all of them can be a strong indicator.


Of course, you aren't going to know in early childhood that you need to be looking for signs or symptoms; however, if your child is diagnosed with other behavioral disorders, you can start documenting and following the development of signs and symptoms that can indicate further issues. Even if you haven't documented a thing, you most likely will recall the behaviors and characteristics that were present in early childhood, and will see the obvious signs as the child grows older.

Now is the time to start keeping a record! You'll get very little help from the psychiatric and medical communities if you are not armed with the information and records to back up your suspicions.

Get statements from school, from family members, and others who are in close proximity to this person. Keep track of previous diagnoses, hospitalizations, and treatments that have been employed. *If violence or crime becomes a factor, you need to rely on your local law enforcement for assistance. If nothing else, calling them provides further supporting documentation.

The most critical aspect of recognizing Antisocial Personality Disorder can also be the most difficult to contend with, on an emotional level. Nobody WANTS to face the fact that their child or loved one may be afflicted with this type of disease; however, the painful truth is that this person needs help, and has the potential to cause harm to themselves and to others. Therefore, it is imperative that you not allow any kind of violent behavior to continue unanswered. Again, involve the authorities, treatment providers, social workers or anyone else who is in a position of authority. Don't sit on this, because it's not going to go away, and it's not something that you can sweep under the rug. You've got to be able to separate your emotions from the facts, and you've got to maintain a steely resolve when it comes to getting help and treatment for this person.

Tips & Warnings

  • Find support. Forums and groups, online or in person, can provide you with vital help and understanding.
  • Be doggedly persistent when it comes to getting treatment for the individual. If you feel you're not getting proper help in one place, keep searching.
  • Again, document. As soon as you realize what you may be in for, start keeping the records. Not only does this help you, it is vital for gaining the right treatment!
  • Stay tuned for the next installment, where I will discuss how to live with someone who suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder.
  • If you, your family, or anyone else is in immediate danger, don't just sit there and hope it will pass. Call 911.
  • Wake up! Antisocial Personality types are master manipulators. They will say, do, and be whomever they need to be to meet their own agendas. Painful to acknowledge, but true.
  • I am not an authority on this disease, nor is this an all-inclusive discussion about this disorder. You MUST do your homework. I have researched this issue, however, if I've omitted anything or mistated any information, please do let me know! Thank you!

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