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Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) | Dr. William Winter is a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Will Winter, MD, FAAP
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People may use the word "antisocial" meaning that they are not in a social mood. "Antisocial" in the context of a personality disorder is a different thing entirely.

Prior to more recent nomenclature changes in the DSM IV, someone with a diagnosis of "Antisocial Personality Disorder" was referred to as "a psychopath".

Simply understood:
Although most of us care more about ourselves than others, people with this disorder really and truly do not care about others. If there is a situation where they want something, they will think little of doing whatever it takes to get it, including violating someone else. This may include stealing or physical violence.

People with antisocial traits do not see others as special. They see others as objects. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) aren't the only ones who think like this. People with other types of disorders may as well. The difference is that, even if people with other disorders objectify others, on some basic level they realize that other people are special enough to not violate certain boundaries. Someone with APD does not recognize those boundaries.

Just because someone meets criteria for APD does not mean that he is a killer. There exist what can be called "functional" APD's. These are people who know how to function, not because they care about others, but because they weigh the risk of getting caught and going to jail if they were to commit an act of violation and- for their benefit- logically choose against it.

People with this disorder tend not to get help because they do not see it as a problem. If they do seek help it may be for other, related issues.

Just like all personality characteristics, it is not clear whether this disorder is due to nature or nurture. It is likely that people are born with this personality disposition. On the other hand, a person who was physically abused, sexually abused or neglected in childhood may externalize their anger onto others or not learn to care about others. It can be reasoned that this type of environmental stressor could be an underlying cause of Antisocial Personality Disorder as well.