Antisocial Personality Disorder and PTSD Risks

Antisocial personality disorder is a personality disorder

Multi-ethnic couple having argument
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Studies have found that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently occurs along with a variety of personality disorders including antisocial personality disorder. Having a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder may place people with PTSD at particular risk for severe negative consequences, such as legal problems, violence and non-response to treatment.

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

So what is antisocial personality disorder?

According to the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others that has occurred since the age of 15. To be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, this pattern of behavior must include three or more of the following behaviors:

  • A failure to conform to established social norms, particularly with regard to behaviors or actions that are illegal and grounds for arrest.
  • Deceitfulness, such as constant lying, use of fake names or conning others to get money or simply for pleasure.
  • Impulsive behaviors or difficulties planning ahead or contemplating the consequences of behaviors.
  • Irritability and aggressive behavior, such as frequently starting physical fights with other people.
  • Disregard for the safety of others or oneself.
  • Constant irresponsibility, such as a failure to regularly attend work or meet certain responsibilities or obligations (for example, paying bills or child support).
  • A lack of remorse, which may be seen as an indifference to having hurt or taken advantage of someone, or an attempt to rationalize such behavior.

In addition, to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, a person must be at least 18 years old and have had conduct disorder before the age of 15.

Risk Factors for Antisocial Personality Disorder

No one knows the exact cause of antisocial personality disorder but certain risk factors are associated with the disorder:

  • Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder
  • Family history of antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorders or mental illness
  • Being subjected to verbal, physical or sexual abuse during childhood
  • Unstable or chaotic family life during childhood
  • Loss of parents through traumatic divorce during childhood
  • History of substance abuse in parents or other family members

Men are at greater risk of having antisocial personality disorder than women are.

Complications of Antisocial Personality Disorder

Complications, consequences and problems of antisocial personality disorder include:

  • Aggressiveness leading to verbal or physical violence
  • Gang participation
  • Reckless behavior
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Child abuse
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Gambling problems
  • Being in jail or prison
  • Homicidal or suicidal behaviors
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Occasional periods of depression or anxiety
  • School and work problems
  • Strained relationships with health care providers
  • Low social and economic status, and homelessness
  • Premature death, usually as a result of violence

You can learn more about antisocial personality disorder from the Guide to Psychology.


Mayo Clinic. Antisocial Personality Disorder.

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