Treatment For Antisocial Personality Disorder

Published on April 19th, 2017

Updated on January 4th, 2024

Treatment For Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a condition that is often misunderstood. People tend to mistake the disorder with the term ‘antisocial’, but these two terms do not mean the same thing. The term ‘antisocial’ when used socially refers to people who are not typically social. People with ASPD reject social or societal rules and measures for safety. A person with ASPD engages in reckless behavior. They are impulsive and are not remorseful for their actions.

People with ASPD struggle with authority figures. They may engage in criminal activity or other activities that will get them in trouble. They are often combative and confrontational. This makes it very difficult to live with a person with the disorder.

Antisocial personality disorder causes cognitive issues that make the disorder difficult to treat. Treatment is also a challenge because people with ASPD seldom seek help on their own. Typically, treatment is sought due to legal mandate or on other conditional terms.

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Is Antisocial Personality Disorder Treatable?

Antisocial personality disorder is treatable. For successful treatment, the affected person must be motivated for change. The challenge with this is that people with the disorder tend to not be motivated to change. For a person with ASPD change is challenging because it requires new methods of thinking that consider consequences. Considering consequences for themselves and others is something that a person with ASPD is not used to doing.

There are several reasons why it is difficult to treat ASPD. The main reason is the patient often does not want to change. Those with antisocial personality disorder do not see a problem with their behavior. They instead see the people and environment around them as the problem.

People with personality disorder tend to:

Because of these points it is difficult to treat antisocial personality disorder. The goal of treating antisocial personality disorder is to reduce problematic behavior.

Such behavior includes:

Why is Treatment of Antisocial Personality Disorder So Difficult?

Most people with ASPD are mandated to treatment. Sources of mandate include courts, probation, parole, and child and family services. These mandates serve as a condition to stay out of prison.

Many affected people will enter treatment to prevent more severe consequences for their actions. However, they often remain unmotivated to change. Their motivation is to get out of trouble, not to develop a healthier lifestyle.

There are some cases in which an affected person decides to try to make a change in their life. This could be for different reasons, like relationships or circumstances that motivate change. In these instances, there is a higher chance of seeing improvement.

Treatment must stay consistent. While there may be motivation for change, the process toward change is complicated. People with ASPD will need to reconstruct most of their lives. They will need to think, feel and behave differently. This takes time, patience, and consistency.

Effective Forms of Treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder

It is difficult to recover from ASPD. Even though it is difficult, there are effective forms of therapy. These forms of therapy will only work for those who are motivated to change.

Such forms of therapy include:

Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is effective for treating ASPD. It helps the affected person understand how their thoughts affect their behavior.

Cognitive therapy also slows down impulsive behaviors that can cause them trouble. By modifying thoughts, emotional reactions and behavior will change.

Family therapy. Many people with ASPD find their motivation for change from relationships. They want their relationships with partners, family, and friends to improve.

It is sometimes helpful to have family involved with therapy. This can provide consistency outside of therapy. It can also provide understanding and patience to all parties involved.

Anger management. Antisocial personality disorder is associated with anger, rage, and poor consequential thinking. Anger management teaches techniques to manage the snap reactions triggered by anger.

Anger management is a very important part of treatment for people with ASPD. Affected people who are used to acting through anger learn how their anger gets them into more trouble than it is worth. It also teaches the difference between anger and rage, which helps shorten the reaction time. Through anger management, a person with ASPD learns how to cope with their anger without reacting or behaving impulsively. This greatly reduces problematic behavior.

Addiction programs. Many people with ASPD also have issues with substance use and addiction. When a person in treatment for ASPD also has a history of substance use, they may be referred to a substance use treatment center for assessment.

Substance use directly affects recovery success. That is why it is important to be sober during treatment. If a person with ASPD is sober during treatment, they are more likely to clearly understand what has happened in the past and what they need to do to change.

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