antisocial personality disorder l.
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Antisocial Personality Disorder. Personality Traits. characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are stable across time and across situations considered to be a disorder when traits are inflexible and maladaptive cause significant functional impairment and/or distress.

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personality traits
Personality Traits
  • characteristic ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are stable across time and across situations
  • considered to be a disorder when
    • traits are inflexible and maladaptive
    • cause significant functional impairment and/or distress
a diagnostic question
A Diagnostic Question
  • Are people with personality disorders qualitatively different from people without?


  • Are people with personality disorders individuals who have extreme versions of otherwise normal personality traits?
the answer
The Answer
  • Personality disorders are probably best thought of as extreme positions on one or more personality dimensions
  • thought to originate in childhood and continue into adulthood
  • believed to be relatively stable, difficult to treat
lack of research
Lack of Research
  • for many personality disorders, there is relatively little empirical research on the causes and treatments
some examples
Some Examples
  • Paranoid personality disorder
    • pervasive pattern of distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
    • pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy
antisocial personality disorder8
Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others since age 15
dsm iv tr criteria
DSM-IV-TR criteria
  • at least 3 sx
    • failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior (repeated arrests)
    • deceitfulness (repeated lying, use of aliases, conning)
    • impulsivity, failure to plan ahead
    • irritability and aggressiveness (repeated fights)
    • reckless disregard for safety of others
    • consistent irresponsibility (no steady employment, doesn’t honor financial obligations)
    • lack of remorse (indifferent to or rationalizes having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from others)
dsm iv tr continued
DSM-IV-TR (continued)
  • must be at least 18
  • evidence of conduct disorder prior to age 15
    • violation of basic rights of others and major social rules
    • aggression toward people and/or animals
    • destruction of property
    • deceitfulness or theft
    • serious violation of rules (stays out all night, truant)
  • community samples
    • males = 3%
    • females = 1%
  • clinical settings
    • 3 - 30%, depending upon characteristics of population sampled
    • higher prevalence rates are found in substance abuse treatment settings and prison
causes biological
Causes: Biological
  • genetics
    • family, adoption, and twin studies show evidence of a genetic link
    • examples:
      • offspring of felons raised by adoptive families show higher rates of arrests and antisocial personality disorder than controls
      • concordance rates for criminality are 55% for MZ twins and 13% for DZ twins
but what do they inherit
But what do they inherit?
  • underarousal hypothesis
    • psychopaths have abnormally low levels of cortical arousal
    • engage in antisocial and risk-taking behaviors to increase level of arousal
    • evidence
      • longitudinal study found that future criminals had lower skin conductance activity, lower heart rate, and more slow-frequency brain wave activity
fearlessness hypothesis
    • psychopaths have a higher threshold for experiencing fear than most people
    • evidence
      • psychopaths are less likely to develop a classically conditioned fear response
psychological and social influences
Psychological and Social Influences
  • oversensitivity to reward
    • will persist in efforts to achieve goal, even when goal is no longer attainable
  • inconsistent parental discipline
    • giving in to problem behavior and poor monitoring
  • other environmental influences
    • low SES, stress, and degree of mutual trust and solidarity in neighborhood linked to antisocial behaviors
  • prognosis for adults is poor
  • best strategy is to intervene with “high risk” children
    • teach parents to use behavioral management principles to reduce problem behavior and increase prosocial behavior
    • research suggests such programs reduce antisocial behavior
a philosophical debate
A Philosophical Debate
  • Lykken (1982) has argued that the assumptions of the legal system and psychology/psychiatry differ
  • Legal system
    • assumes the existence of free will
    • belief that, with rare exceptions, humans are capable of freely choosing their actions
a philosophical debate continued
A Philosophical Debate (continued)
  • Psychiatry/psychology
    • based on determinism
    • belief that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have potentially identifiable causes (such as biological or environmental factors) that can be explained in terms of scientific principles
ramifications for legal system
Ramifications for Legal System
  • Lykken (1982)
    • legal system wants to know if person should be held responsible for his/her crime
    • in order to be held responsible, person must have freely chosen the act
    • it is logically contradictory to ask psychiatry/psychology experts to distinguish individuals who are responsible for their crimes from individuals who are not
lykken 1982 continued
Lykken (1982) continued
  • because psychiatry/psychology view all behaviors, thoughts, and feelings as determined, these disciplines cannot provide a meaningful answer as to whether a person should be held responsible