Oct 31

Have you recently experienced someone acting completely out of line or losing control over themselves?

In Psychiatry, patterns of repetitive behavior during childhood and adolescence where the social norms or boundaries of others are violated are called ‘conduct disorder‘. I am not a particular fan of this term as it reminds me a bit of authoritarian teachers and governments. But what it actually describes if being used by psychiatrists and therapists, is a symptom range of over-aggressive behavior, bullying, lying, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, vandalism and stealing, that should give you an idea of what it actually means.

Often, affected children come from a difficult family background with abusive, aggressive or addicted parents. If the underlying problems aren’t resolved, these children might develop more serious personality disorders as adults: particularly antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorders or psychopathy . All of these increase the risk to cause or experience physical injuries, to suffer from depression, addiction, incarceration or even homicide and suicide, as they often intimidate others or initiate physical fights.

Antisocial persons don’t feel much of an inhibition to use weapons, and they have a tendency to deceit, con, steal or destroy property. While their behavior might seem confident and decisive at the outside, they can in fact feel very alone, anxious and hopeless, which often leads to alcohol abuse, depression or other problems.

One cause of the aggressive behavior of antisocial persons can be that they developed a ‘proactive’ but in fact mostly inappropriate, extreme form of self protection or need it as a valve to get rid of the emotional tensions they feel, not only inside themselves but also towards others. Unfortunately, in the case of psychopathic personality traits, this particular kind of relief is often combined with a lack of empathy and sympathetic concern for others, which reduces the hurdles to impose emotional or physical force on others. Thus, it is usually a good idea to avoid any open conflict with such aggressors. They would be unable to empathize with their victim or keep the conflict on a verbal level, let alone resolve it in a constructive manner. The best approach is usually to let them cool off and give them space and to give it another try at another day.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2011; picture credit:www.corrupt.org)

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Thoughts on “Antisocial personality disorder – what is it, really?” (2):

  1. Comment by Zee:

    Hello. I have just discovered your blog this mnnoirg (it’s 8:30 a.m. on my side of the pond!) and I’m exploring the site with great interest. I love your work. Very thoughtful and powerful.This particular one really caught my eye. You are quite right about anti-social types not necessarily being criminals. I worked for one for a while and he wreaks havoc in the lives of the people around him who are not powerful or moneyed. (He is quite capable of being utterly charming toward those who are wealthy or have some sort of useful authority in society.)Thank you for all your very informative and responsible work.I assure you, I’ll be back!

  2. Comment by PamelaParker:

    Healing is possible when you have bipolar disorder, no matter how long you have had it. I have found that baby steps are what keeps us going. Try to think of it like with each bite of healing food and with each supplement you take, you are that much closer to recovery.

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