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Antisocial Personalities and Criminal Behavior


Antisocial personalities have been associated with criminal behavior due the lack of empathy and concern of others shown by people suffering from such disorders. This causes them to behave in an abusive and/or criminal manner.

Review and conclusion

Jones, C. (2005). Genetic and environmental influences on criminal behavior. Web.

Debates on the major cause of criminal behavior have drawn much attention from psychologists as confusion exists between genetic and environmental factors on the topic of crime. Studies have shown that certain neurochemicals of the brain are actually responsible for activation of criminal and antisocial behaviors since they have direct influence on personality traits. These traits present themselves at an early age and they persist until adulthood. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly identified personality disorder that is associated with criminal behavior. Oppositional Defense Disorder (ODP) and Conduct Disorder (CD) have as well been associated with criminal behavior during adulthood. People with ODD tend to be argumentative, easily irritated and have difficulty in compliance. Even though these characteristics are evident during childhood, they change during adulthood but this time to worse behaviors such as aggression towards peers, stealing and drug abuse. ADHD, on the other hand, is characterized by lack of attention which causes such people not to foresee the consequences of their actions, most of which are criminal offences. Conduct disorder is associated with constant violation of the norms and values of the society which later transform to criminal behavior.

Hare, R. (1996). Psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder: a case of diagnostic confusion. Web.

A report by the FBI in 1992 indicated that most of the criminal offenders (50%) had characteristic antisocial behavior. In fact, most of these offenders were killers of law enforcement officers. The antisocial behavior presented in the report was characterized by lack of empathy towards other people, lack of regard to social obligations, manipulation and blameful of others, irresponsibility and lack of sense of right and wrong among others. Additionally, the offenders fully met the criteria for Anti-social Personality Disorder (ASPD) hence qualifying them to be regarded as psychopaths who would do anything just to get their way regardless of hurting the people involved. Despite the fact that psychopathy and Anti-social Personality Disorder are regarded as distinct in the criminal justice system, the distinction between the two is often hazy. This is partly because the personality traits may be hard to measure as it is difficult to identify the reasons behind such behaviors but rather easy to associate the behavior with a certain disorder. Thus, most individuals with ASPD are not necessarily psychopaths while on the other hand, most psychopaths meet the required criteria for ASPD in the criminal justice system. Hence, most criminal populations are characterized by ASPD presented in their attitudes and engagement in criminal behavior.

Mueser, K. (2011). Conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder in persons with sever psychiatric and substance use disorders. Web.

Conduct disorder (CD) alongside Anti-social Personal Disorder are the leading risk factors for drug abuse, not only among people with severe mental illnesses, but also among the general population. Many substance users have been characterized with the above mentioned disorders and have been associated with other social problems such as criminal behavior. Examinations on the relation between personality disorders and criminal behavior revealed that late on-set of ASPD on persons with other mental illnesses are likely to cause substance abuse. However, early on-set of the ASPD, especially on individuals with multiple mental disorders, results to diverse criminal behavior such as killing, stealing as well as substance abuse. This indicates that criminal behavior in individuals with multiple disorders including substance abuse disorder is not a result of substance use but rather because of the early onset of the complete ASPD. In addition, further research shows that Conduct Disorder (CD) and Anti-social Personality Disorder (ASPD) are further associated with individuals with schizophrenia with several mental illnesses and substance use which, all together, lead to subsequent criminal behavior. These associations need to be examined more carefully among diverse population. (ND). Antisocial personality, sociopathy and psychopathy. Web.

People with constant urges of harming others for no reason have received numerous titles. Most of these people suffer from one or more mental illness. However, such people may be described as being cruel rather than being crazy or mentally ill. This is because most of them are aware of what they are doing and are able to distinguish between right or wrong. Instead, they choose not to control their harmful urges as they are always determined to get their way no matter what. Most of these individuals have been associated with Antisocial Personality Disorder which is more of a criminal behavior. This is evidenced by the fact that most criminal offenders are recognized with the disorder. The reason why these behaviors associated with the ASPD are considered as a crime is that the offenders turn such behaviors into tendencies of which they could have controlled but they choose not to. For instance, the characteristic of failure to accept one’s responsibility for own actions is something that one can control but these people get used to denying their responsibilities and this becomes part of their behavior in the long run.

Daughters, S. (2007). The interactive effects of antisocial personality disorder and court-mandated status on substance abuse treatment dropout. Journal of substance abuse treatment 34. Web.

Studies to determine the prevalence of antisocial personality behavior especially in prisons have been quite a challenge. This is because the criteria for diagnosing these personality disorders involve dealing with law-breaking behavior. Thus, the personality disorder coincides with a criminal act. Antisocial personality disorder is the most prevalent disorder in most of the prisons. Studies have shown that between 60% and 80% of all inmates suffer at least one or more personality disorder with the antisocial personality disorder being the most prevalent. Additionally, male inmates have been associated with antisocial personality disorder than the females whose percentage is only 50 while that of men is at a high of 70%. These findings have raised a lot concern on the validity of crimes in regard to antisocial personality disorder. On another note, researchers are focusing on other characteristics of identifying antisocial personality disorder other than associated criminal offenses. These include abnormal traits related to psychopathy such as lack of empathy. The prevalence of antisocial personality disorder may as well be high among individuals who are under medication for substance abuse.

Caver, J. (2011). Personality disorders: the controllers, abusers, manipulators and users in relationships. Web.

Every person is at the risk of having to deal with a person with antisocial personality disorder at one point in life. This means that relationship partners are as well at the risk of having to face the unusual behaviors presented by their partner’s antisocial partners. In these cases, partners with antisocial personality disorder are abusive to their spouses, irresponsible especially in finances to the point of stealing from their own partners, dishonest manifested in the stealing act since they never admit to their crimes and other significant problems some of which are criminal offences. Similarly, such people have impacts on their neighbors as they not only steal from them but also cause disharmony in the neighborhood which is also considered to be a criminal offense by the law. Family members are also affected in that some of these people may remain dependent on the rest of the family to provide for them despite their age. Siblings of people suffering from antisocial personality disorder also suffer by being bullied and intimidated. In the workplace, co-workers of these people are affected by their behaviors such as unethical characters and dishonesty as well as physical and/or sexual abuse.

Lee, S. (2002). Developing and overcoming antisocial personality disorder. Web.

The identification as well as psychological treatment of antisocial personality disorder poses a challenge to psychologists as well as family members. Since personality is determined by childhood experiences as well as genetics and environmental factors, the development of mental disorders during childhood is likely to result to antisocial personality disorder during adulthood. To better understand the development of this disorder, it is suitable to examine the characteristics of the disorder, the symptoms associated with it and the possibility of conduct disorder of the person affected. These three elements may sound similar, but they actually are different from a psychological view. Conduct disorder itself is characterized by chronic behaviors such as substance abuse, vandalism, physical fights, setting of fires, among others. If such children are not effectively treated, chances are that they will turn into serious criminals as adolescents and adults including drug abuse. Chances of being unemployed adults for such children are very high as most of them concentrate on committing crime and hurting others for no reason. Therefore, it is very significant for the criminal justice system to identify criminal offenders with antisocial personality disorder in order to assist them accordingly.

Bully online. (ND). Antisocial personality disorder: APD and the serial bully. Web.

Studies show that 1 in every 30 persons has the characteristics that can qualify in the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Most psychologists agree that much emphasis of the antisocial personality disorder should be based on the antisocial acts committed by such people. This is in order to distinguish between psychopaths and individuals with antisocial personality disorder since not all of them are diagnosed as psychopaths. It may be difficult to diagnose antisocial personality disorder as the victims do not see any problem with their behavior and other unusual characteristics. A serial bully for instance lacks the knowledge of the effects he has on other people and does not realize that they are getting hurt. A serial bully can be described as causing physical violence to other people which is a prerequisite to antisocial personality behavior.

Glenn, A and Raine, A. (2011). Antisocial personality disorders. Web.

Research on neuroscience is unveiling various impairments resulting to antisocial behaviors among individuals and groups. Different neurobiological deficits are involved in the antisocial behaviors in various ways. Some evidence suggests that brain abnormalities may be the primary cause of these antisocial behaviors. Such abnormalities may be a result of natural, developmental as well as unnatural damaging factors. The knowledge of neuroscience has been very significant in interpretation of the antisocial behaviors resulting from such brain deficits. This has been most importantly, helpful in the criminal justice system in identifying criminal acts resulting from such deficits and thus helping in identification of correct measures to be taken on the criminal offenders. However, these brain deficits are not the sole causes of antisocial personality disorders as other factors such as environment are involved.

Grohol, J. (2010). Antisocial personality disorder treatment. Web.

Similar to many other personality disorders, people with antisocial personality disorders are reluctant to obtain treatment partly because they do not believe that they have the problem. Thus, such people who undergo psychotherapy do it as a court order which comes following a criminal offense but due to the identification of the disorder by the court, the victim is ordered to undergo treatment rather than taking legal actions against them. Due to the fact that most criminal offenders have antisocial personality disorders, something which makes them be referred to psychotherapy treatment in a court or forensic setting, motivation from family may be impossible due to confinement. However, therapy should include issues such as the goals of the victims once the therapy is over and focus on how to interact with other people and from healthy relationships as well as ways of following society norms and avoiding criminal acts.

Moeller, G and Dougherty, D. (2011). Antisocial personality disorder, alcohol and aggression. Web.

Various epidemiological studies have linked alcohol-related aggression to people with antisocial personality disorders. People with antisocial personality disorders are likely to resolve to alcohol dependence especially when they exist as a group. Despite the fact that itself is considered a criminal offence when used in a disorderly manner, other criminal acts result following alcohol use. They include violation of laws such as traffic regulations, vandalism, fighting and verbal intimidation. In support of these findings, several studies have associated alcoholism with brain function which is a primary cause of antisocial personality disorder. Therefore, alcoholism can be described as an unnatural cause of brain deficit which leads to development of antisocial personality disorder.


Antisocial personality disorder is a very common personality disorder, not only among children, but also among adults. It is characterized by lack of empathy or concern for other people by those who perform those acts. The primary characteristics of antisocial personality disorder include lack of concern for society or legal rights, irresponsibility of one’s actions, lack of remorse and patience among others. Many individuals with antisocial personality disorders have been associated with various criminal acts. One of the significant antisocial behaviors identified among people with antisocial personality disorder is alcoholism where such people engage in alcohol either individually or as groups. Therefore, most of these people fall under the criteria of alcohol abuse or that of alcohol dependence. As a result, people with antisocial personality disorders are likely to have characteristic alcohol related aggression towards other people. The close relation between alcoholism and antisocial personality disorder is as a result of brain deficit. For one, alcoholism is known to affect the functioning of the brain causing its users to behave in certain unusual ways. Secondly, neuroscientists have reported that certain regions of the brain undergo neurobiological deficits that affect behavioral characteristics of the people with antisocial personality disorder. Additionally, the antisocial behaviors resulting from alcoholism are similar to those identified in people with antisocial personality disorder even those who are not substance users or abusers. Most people with antisocial personality disorders are likely to have several other mental disorders which increase the chances of committing the antisocial and criminal acts.

Therefore, it is for this reason that the criminal justice system is concerned on identification of antisocial personality disorder within criminal offenders. This is meant to guide the criminal justice system in taking effective corrective actions on the criminal offenders. Besides, most courts order crime offenders found to have antisocial personality disorders to seek psychological therapy. This is very significant since most of the people with the disorder do not only deny having a problem, but are less likely to seek any form of treatment. During the therapy, the offenders are confined and allowed to reflect on their lives on what they want to do once they get out. This gives them the chance to reflect on a positive lifestyle of adhering to norms of the society and other legal requirements since their lack of concern on these issues is what drives them to committing the criminal acts. Besides professional therapy, a self help strategy in form of groups is also commendable.

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StudyKraken. (2022) 'Antisocial Personalities and Criminal Behavior'. 29 March.

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