Antisocial Personality Disorder: Symptoms

Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a mental disorder in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.

Individuals with antisocial personality disorder often violate the law, becoming criminals. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. Because of these characteristics, people with this disorder typically can’t fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.


Antisocial personality disorder signs and symptoms may include:

• Disregard for right and wrong

• Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others

• Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others

• Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure

• Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated

• Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior

• Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty

• Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead

• Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence

• Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others

• Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others

• Poor or abusive relationships

• Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them

• Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations

Adults with antisocial personality disorder typically show symptoms of conduct disorder before the age of 15. Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

• Aggression toward people and animals

• Destruction of property

• Deceitfulness

• Theft

• Serious violation of rules

Although antisocial personality disorder is considered lifelong, in some people, certain symptoms — particularly destructive and criminal behavior — may decrease over time. But it’s not clear whether this decrease is a result of aging or an increased awareness of the consequences of antisocial behavior.


Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that makes everyone unique. It’s the way people view, understand and relate to the outside world, as well as how they see themselves. Personality forms during childhood, shaped through an interaction of inherited tendencies and environmental factors.

The exact cause of antisocial personality disorder isn’t known, but:

• Genes may make you vulnerable to developing antisocial personality disorder — and life situations may trigger its development

• Changes in the way the brain functions may have resulted during brain development

Risk factors

Certain factors seem to increase the risk of developing antisocial personality disorder, such as:

• Diagnosis of childhood conduct disorder

• Family history of antisocial personality disorder or other personality disorders or mental health disorders

• Being subjected to abuse or neglect during childhood

• Unstable, violent or chaotic family life during childhood

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


Complications, consequences and problems of antisocial personality disorder may include, for example:

• Spouse abuse or child abuse or neglect

• Problems with alcohol or substance use

• Being in jail or prison

• Homicidal or suicidal behaviors

• Having other mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety

• Low social and economic status and homelessness

• Premature death, usually as a result of violence


There’s no sure way to prevent antisocial personality disorder from developing in those at risk. Because antisocial behavior is thought to have its roots in childhood, parents, teachers and pediatricians may be able to spot early warning signs. It may help to try to identify those most at risk, such as children who show signs of conduct disorder, and then offer early intervention.

Overcoming Stigma

Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that’s thought to be, or actually is, a disadvantage (a negative stereotype). Unfortunately, negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common.

Stigma can lead to discrimination. Discrimination may be obvious and direct, such as someone making a negative remark about your mental illness or your treatment. Or it may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding you because the person assumes you could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to your mental illness. You may even judge yourself.

Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:

• Reluctance to seek help or treatment

• Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others

• Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing

• Bullying, physical violence or harassment

• Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover your mental illness treatment

• The belief that you’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t improve your situation

Steps to cope with stigma

Here are some ways you can deal with stigma:

Get treatment. You may be reluctant to admit you need treatment. Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief by identifying what’s wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life.

Don’t let stigma create self-doubt and shame. Stigma doesn’t just come from others. You may mistakenly believe that your condition is a sign of personal weakness or that you should be able to control it without help. Seeking counseling, educating yourself about your condition and connecting with others who have mental illness can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.

Don’t isolate yourself. If you have a mental illness, you may be reluctant to tell anyone about it. Your family, friends, clergy or members of your community can offer you support if they know about your mental illness. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support and understanding you need.

Don’t equate yourself with your illness. You are not an illness. So instead of saying “I’m bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder.” Instead of calling yourself “a schizophrenic,” say “I have schizophrenia.”

Join a support group. Some local and national groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), offer local programs and internet resources that help reduce stigma by educating people who have mental illness, their families and the general public. Some state and federal agencies and programs, such as those that focus on vocational rehabilitation and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offer support for people with mental illness.

Get help at school. If you or your child has a mental illness that affects learning, find out what plans and programs might help. Discrimination against students because of a mental illness is against the law, and educators at primary, secondary and college levels are required to accommodate students as best they can. Talk to teachers, professors or administrators about the best approach and resources. If a teacher doesn’t know about a student’s disability, it can lead to discrimination, barriers to learning and poor grades.

Speak out against stigma. Consider expressing your opinions at events, in letters to the editor or on the internet. It can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educate the public about mental illness.

Others’ judgments almost always stem from a lack of understanding rather than information based on facts. Learning to accept your condition and recognize what you need to do to treat it, seeking support, and helping educate others can make a big difference.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, NAMI, NIH, To Write Love on Her Arms

Mental Illness: Symptoms

Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).


Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Examples of signs and symptoms include:

• Feeling sad or down

• Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate

• Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt

• Extreme mood changes of highs and lows

• Withdrawal from friends and activities

• Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping

• Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations

• Inability to cope with daily problems or stress

• Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people

• Problems with alcohol or drug use

• Major changes in eating habits

• Sex drive changes

• Excessive anger, hostility or violence

• Suicidal thinking

Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains.

If you have suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common with some mental illnesses. If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away:

• Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

• Call your mental health specialist.

• Call a suicide hotline number. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on

• Seek help from your primary care provider.

• Reach out to a close friend or loved one.

• Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

Suicidal thinking doesn’t get better on its own — so get help.

Helping a loved one

If your loved one shows signs of mental illness, have an open and honest discussion with him or her about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to get professional care, but you can offer encouragement and support. You can also help your loved one find a qualified mental health professional and make an appointment. You may even be able to go along to the appointment.

If your loved one has done self-harm or is considering doing so, take the person to the hospital or call for emergency help.


Mental illnesses, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:

Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation may trigger it.

Environmental exposures before birth. Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.

• Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders.

Risk factors

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, including:

• A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling

• Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce

• An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes

• Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head

• Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault

• Use of alcohol or recreational drugs

• A childhood history of abuse or neglect

• Few friends or few healthy relationships

• A previous mental illness

Mental illness is common. About 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness in any given year. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life.

The effects of mental illness can be temporary or long lasting. You also can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time. For example, you may have depression and a substance use disorder.


Mental illness is a leading cause of disability. Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral and physical health problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include:

• Unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life

• Family conflicts

• Relationship difficulties

• Social isolation

• Problems with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs

• Missed work or school, or other problems related to work or school

• Legal and financial problems

• Poverty and homelessness

• Self-harm and harm to others, including suicide or homicide

• Weakened immune system, so your body has a hard time resisting infections

• Heart disease and other medical conditions


There’s no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps:

• Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Consider involving family members or friends to watch for warning signs.

• Get routine medical care. Don’t neglect checkups or skip visits to your primary care provider, especially if you aren’t feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.

• Get help when you need it. Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms.

• Take good care of yourself. Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your primary care provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, NAMI, NIH

I’m Privileged

I’m privileged:

~ I live in a Western Country with well trained psychiatrists and therapists.

~ I’m white and middle class.

~ I have a college degree and a deeper understanding of my illness.

~ I have good health insurance.

~ I can afford my medications.

~ I have a family that has helped me pay my therapist out of pocket instead of one that my insurance would cover.

~ I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

~ I have a support system.

~ What if I had been poor with no insurance and lacking a support system? Would I be homeless and not medicated? Would I be the “crazy” person talking to himself on the street corner?

~ Having schizophrenia is difficult enough sometimes seemingly impossible, but I can’t imagine how hard and how different my life would be if I wasn’t privileged.

~ I’m no better than anyone else with schizophrenia, just privileged to be born into my social class and all the perks that come with it.

#MySchizLife #Privileged #Schizophrenia

Understanding Stigma

There are so many books on this topic and those who dealt with issues: composers, artists, even whole books that put Shakespeare’s plays and characters in the context of mental health.

But despite that interest, people with mental health issues didn’t always receive the care they needed. We mistreated people, we misunderstood people and we didn’t have good treatment options.

One of the big things people can do is talk about it. Sharing that mental health is common, that it’s treatable and that there are resources helps people understand. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association are good resources for support, information and treatment.

People need to know that there’s hope and help because it ties into the past, why people didn’t talk about it. There weren’t good options like there are now.

~ Psychiatrist Douglas McLaughlin, Cleveland Clinic

Age 16, 1988

Age 16, 1988

For me my mental illness came crashing into my life in full force when I was sixteen.

That was the year I first started hearing voices,

started to believe people could read my mind and insert thoughts into my head,

was the first time I was truly suicidal,

was the year I started to self harm,

dragging a razor blade across my left arm and watching my blood flow,

the first time I was dissociative,

when the world became vague, dreamlike, less real,

as I observed events as if from outside my body like a movie in slow motion,

the year the panic attacks began.

This was also the year I suffered as a survivor of sexual assault,

the most difficult event of my life as a biker held a knife to my throat and raped me,

beating me severely.

From then on I carried a knife in case I am in a similar situation,

not so I could defend myself, but so I could slit my wrists.

To this day the sound of a Harley Davidson makes me physically cringe.

That was when the night terrors began reliving my trauma every time I closed my eyes.

That was the year the negative coping mechanisms developed: cutting, isolating, alcohol, drugs.

That was when the abyss of depression swallowed me up whole,

and I wanted to die or crawl in a hole forever,

because I was worthless, pathetic, weak, and most importantly,

I was to blame for being raped,

I should have been able to stop it as a sixteen year old boy.

This is not how it should be at sixteen.

Stop Blaming Mental Illness For Mass Shootings


“If you were to suddenly cure schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression overnight, violent crime in the US would fall by only 4 percent.”
~ Jeffrey Swanson, Duke University professor, a sociologist and psychiatric epidemiologist who studies the relationship between violence and mental illness.

What they found was that mentally ill people who didn’t have substance abuse issues, who weren’t maltreated as children, and who didn’t live in adverse environments have a lower risk of violence than the general population.

(According to a Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) study, sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health the share of overall violence explained by serious mental illness — was between 3 percent and 5.3 percent, for a midpoint estimate of about 4 percent. That’s where the idea that if you wiped out serious mental illness overnight, violence would fall 4 percent comes from.)

Here’s the never ending pattern:

1) Mass Shooting

2) Advocates of gun control point out that taking guns off the streets and limiting who can buy them will save lives.

3) Opponents of gun control argue that there are no regulations that can stop a determined shooter and that what we really need is to address mental health.


“This is also a mental illness problem. These are people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”
~ President Trump said, following the script, after shootings in Dayton and El Paso.

“Mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence.”
~ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

The convenient cries of “mental health” after mass shootings are worse than hypocritical. They’re factually wrong and stigmatizing to millions of completely nonviolent Americans living with severe mental illness.

The share of America’s violence problem (excluding suicide) that is explainable by diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is tiny. Being male or having a substance abuse issue are both bigger risk factors.

At the very least if you’re going to scapegoat mental illness then increase its funding dramatically which the government is unwilling to do, as a matter of fact they do the opposite.

Hate and anger aren’t a mental illness!

Stop stigmatizing innocent nonviolent people.

Project Semicolon

I love Project Semicolon and these Semicolon Butterfly tattoos are amazingly beautiful:

A growing movement is using the semicolon, and in particular a semicolon tattoo, as a symbol of hope for people with mental illness. The Project Semicolon describes the meaning behind the symbol:

“A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you.”

It represents a choice to live on especially for those who may have considered ending their lives.

The project has inspired many people to tattoo or draw the symbol in creative ways to symbolize their own struggles or to honor or support loved ones who have struggled. The project encourages people to use social media to promote the message and continue the conversation, sharing pictures and stories of hope and strength to help end the stigma of mental illness and encourage those who are struggling feel safe and comfortable enough to reach out for help.

Impact of Mental Illness in the Justice System


Being incarcerated may be a critical moment for someone with mental illness. The common overlooked or untreated symptoms and behaviors may have led the individual into the justice system. Screening at the moment of intake may make a huge difference in the mental health trajectory of the individual.

2 million people with mental illness are newly incarcerated each year.

Recent findings show that there are 10 times more individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails than in state mental hospitals.

Upon release from the justice system, there is inadequate mental health screening. Without proper screening and acknowledgment of mental illness, an individual may not have access to mental healthcare and the necessary resources to afford treatment.

A criminal record will often make it hard for a newly released individual to find employment or housing. As a result, many become homeless, find themselves hospitalized, or are rearrested

Up to 83% of inmates with mental illness did not have access to treatment after release

In a recent outcome study, 64% of inmates with mental illness released from prison were rearrested within 18 months, and 48% were hospitalized within the same time period.


National Alliance on Mental Illness. Jailing people with mental illness. 2019.

Torrey EF, Zdanowicz MT, Kennard AD, et al. The treatment of persons with mental illness in prisons and jails: a state survey. Arlington, VA: Treatment Advocacy Center, April 8, 2014.

Al-Rousan T, Rubenstein L, Sieleni B, Deol H, Wallace RB. Inside the nation’s largest mental health institution: a prevalence study in a state prison system. BMC Public Health. 2017;17(342).

Lovell D, Gagliardi GJ, Peterson PD. Recidivism and use of services among persons with mental illness after release from prison. Psychiatr Serv. 2002;53(10):1290-1296.

World Health Organization. Gender and women’s mental health. 2019.

Child Mind Institute. 2016 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report. 2016.