DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder

Explore the DSM-5 criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder with our comprehensive guide, aiding mental health professionals in accurate diagnosis.

By Nate Lacson on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)?

Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a mental health condition characterized by a long-term pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others. Individuals with ASPD often exhibit a lack of empathy, a disdain for societal norms, and a tendency towards deceitful and manipulative behavior. This disorder, one of the antisocial behavioral syndromes, is closely associated with criminality and is more prevalent among the prison population.

The concept of ASPD has evolved over time. It was previously known as "moral insanity" or "psychopathic personality." The modern understanding of ASPD began to take shape in the early 20th century, with the work of psychiatrists like Hervey Cleckley and Robert Hare, who described the condition in terms of a specific set of personality traits and behaviors.

The scientific basis for ASPD is complex and involves a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Research has shown that individuals with antisocial personality disorder tend to have abnormalities in the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making, impulse control, and emotional regulation. Additionally, a history of childhood trauma, family dysfunction, and exposure to antisocial behavior can increase the risk of developing ASPD.

Antisocial personality disorder symptoms

The symptoms of ASPD include:

  • Persistent lying and deception for personal gain or pleasure
  • Impulsiveness and failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness, leading to physical fights or assaults
  • Reckless disregard for the safety of oneself or others
  • Consistent irresponsibility in work and financial matters
  • Lack of remorse for actions that harm others or criminal behavior

These symptoms often lead to significant impairments in social, occupational, and personal functioning.

Causes and risk factors of ASPD

Many factors lead to developing antisocial personality disorder, involving a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental influences. Key risk factors include:

  • Genetic predisposition: A family history of ASPD or other personality disorders increases the risk.
  • Neurobiological factors: Abnormalities in brain structure and function, particularly in areas related to impulse control and empathy.
  • Childhood trauma: Experiences of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or unstable family environments.
  • Sociocultural factors: Exposure to violence, crime, or antisocial behavior in the community.

Understanding these causes and risk factors is crucial for the early identification and management of ASPD.

Printable DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder

Download this DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder for mental health professionals in the diagnosis and management of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).

How to diagnose antisocial personality disorder?

Diagnosing Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) requires a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. The process typically involves a combination of clinical interviews, psychological assessments such as the Sociopath Test, and a review of an individual's personal and medical history.

What is the DSM-5?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States. It provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders, ensuring that diagnoses are consistent and based on objective criteria.

The DSM-5 is considered a reliable tool for diagnosis and is essential for mental health professionals to make accurate diagnoses and provide appropriate treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality

The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing ASPD include:

  • A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others, occurring since age 15, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:some text
    • Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.
    • Deceitfulness, repeated lying, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.
    • Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.
    • Irritability and aggressiveness.
    • Reckless disregard for the safety of self or others.
    • Consistent irresponsibility.
    • Lack of remorse.
  • The individual is at least 18 years old.
  • There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15.
  • The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Differential diagnosis

Differentiating ASPD from other disorders is crucial for accurate diagnosis and treatment. Conditions that can mimic ASPD include:

  • Borderline personality disorder: Characterized by emotional instability and intense interpersonal relationships.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: Marked by a grandiose sense of self-importance and lack of empathy.
  • Substance use disorders: Substance abuse can lead to behaviors similar to those seen in ASPD.

Differences between DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria

There are differences between the DSM-IV and DSM-5 criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. In DSM-IV, the focus was on a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others since age 15, with specific behaviors like deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggressiveness, and lack of remorse. Additionally, evidence of Conduct Disorder onset before age 15 was necessary for diagnosis.

In contrast, DSM-5 revised the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. The new criteria emphasize impairments in personality functioning, including self and interpersonal functioning, with specific traits like ego-centrism, lack of empathy, and incapacity for intimate relationships. The age requirement was maintained at 18 years, and evidence of Conduct Disorder onset before age 15 is still a criterion. The DSM-5 criteria focus more on personality traits and impairments in functioning rather than specific behaviors as in DSM-IV.

DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder example (sample)

To aid mental health professionals in the diagnosis and management of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), Carepatron has created a sample DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder template. This example includes fictitious healthcare professional information and notes, showcasing how the template can be applied in a clinical setting.

Download this free DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder example here.

DSM 5 Antisocial Personality Disorder example (sample)

Treating antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a challenging condition to treat, but there are several approaches that can be effective in managing symptoms and improving the quality of life for those affected. Here are some common treatment options:


Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is often used to treat ASPD. CBT can help individuals with ASPD understand the impact of their behavior on others, develop empathy, and learn coping strategies to manage impulsive and aggressive behaviors. Other forms of therapy, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and schema-focused therapy, may also be beneficial.


While there are no medications specifically approved for ASPD, certain medications may be prescribed to address specific symptoms or co-occurring disorders. For example, antidepressants or mood stabilizers may be used to treat depression or bipolar disorder, while antipsychotic medications can help with aggression and impulsivity.

Group therapy

Group therapy can provide a supportive environment for individuals with ASPD to share their experiences and learn from others. It can also help in developing social skills and empathy.

Anger management

Anger management programs can be effective in helping individuals with ASPD control aggressive behaviors. These programs teach techniques for recognizing triggers, managing emotional responses, and expressing anger in healthier ways.

Substance abuse treatment

Many individuals with ASPD also struggle with substance use disorder, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Addressing these issues through addiction treatment programs is crucial for overall treatment success.

Legal supervision

In some cases, individuals with ASPD may be involved in the criminal justice system. Legal supervision, combined with therapy and treatment, can provide structure and support for those with ASPD.

Family therapy

Involving family members in therapy can help in understanding the dynamics that contribute to ASPD behaviors and in developing strategies to improve relationships.

It's important to note that treatment for ASPD can be challenging due to the nature of the disorder. Individuals with ASPD may be resistant to treatment or may not see their behavior as problematic. A long-term, consistent approach, often with a combination of therapies, is usually necessary for effective treatment.

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Is antisocial personality disorder in DSM-5?
Is antisocial personality disorder in DSM-5?

Commonly asked questions

Is antisocial personality disorder in DSM-5?

Yes, in the DSM-5, antisocial personality disorder falls under the category of personality disorders.

How does someone with antisocial personality disorder act?

Antisocial personality disorder patients often exhibit behaviors that disregard the rights of others, such as deceitfulness, impulsivity, aggression, and a lack of remorse for their actions.

What is the difference between BPD and antisocial personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) differ in their core features. BPD is characterized by intense emotions, unstable relationships, and fear of abandonment, while ASPD is marked by a disregard for the rights of others and a lack of empathy.

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