Antisocial behavior covers a wide range of actions that either cause harm or lack basic consideration for others. At its most basic level, antisocial behavior is anything that goes against the prevailing cultural norms. The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, states that persistent antisocial behaviors are classified as part of antisocial personality disorder.
For the most part, antisocial behaviors are disruptive acts that are characterized by either covert or overt hostility, and may also include aggressive actions towards others. Like all personality traits, antisocial behavior exists along a spectrum. Examples of covert antisocial behaviors range from the mild, such as a noncompliance or lying, to the more extreme, such as destroying property. Overt examples of antisocial behavior include aggression, verbal abuse or bullying.
For the most part, antisocial behaviors are shaped within the family dynamic, as well as the community and educational environment. High-risk factors in the family include a parental history of antisocial behaviors, parental drug and/or alcohol abuse, an unstable home life, and the absence of good parenting skills.
Many treatment options exist for antisocial behavior, with most focused on childhood intervention. There are school-based programs in conflict resolution. However, the longer antisocial behaviors remain untreated, the more ingrained they become in the person.
Antisocial Personality Disorder and Treatments
The following are commonly associated with those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder:
- Rule breaking
- Drug and alcohol abuse
It is a condition that creates significant hardship for the sufferer due to extreme difficulties in developing healthy relationships. In accordance to the biopsychosocial model, antisocial personality disorder is a result of biological, psychological, and social factors, such as genetics, childhood experiences, and social stressors. Due to such factors, an individual with antisocial personality disorder has a tendency to display psychopathic traits, particularly a lack of regard for others and common episodes of intense anger and frustration. However, various interventions are currently utilized to treat individuals suffering from this debilitating disorder. Clozapine treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, and preventative developmental strategies serve as examples of such interventions, wherein clozapine treatments prove to be the most effective by causing a severe reduction in violence and aggression in research subjects.
In a 2014 experimental study published in the Cambridge University Press, D. Brown and fellow colleagues tested a drug-based treatment for antisocial personality disorder. A total of seven male participants were involved in the study, each of whom was selected from a UK high-security hospital where they were forced to stay as a result of a primary antisocial personality disorder and a history of extreme violence. For treatment, the participants were all administered a low serum dose of clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic medication most commonly used for schizophrenia. More specifically, serum doses were in the range of 150-350ng/mL for 6 of the 7 participants. Consequently, there was no control group. The treatment was administered by licensed physicians and the measurements regarding the effectiveness of the medication were made through a comparison of case notes which outlined participant behavior. Ultimately, the results supported the efficacy of clozapine treatments because all seven participants illustrated a reduction in violent, aggressive behavior. However, the study was not repeated and participants were not revisited in order to determine the long-term effectiveness of the drug. Yet in addition to such drug-based treatments, studies in cognitive behavioral therapy have been conducted as a means to investigate the treatment of antisocial personality disorder.
In an attempt to diminish the unfortunate consequences of antisocial personality disorder, the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy was examined in a 2009 experimental study by K. Davidson and fellow research colleagues. The study involved the participation of fifty-two adult males suffering from antisocial personality disorder, wherein each subject was found in a community setting and had displayed an act of aggression within the previous 6 months of the study. Through random assignment, the participants were either placed in a control or treatment group. The control group did not receive cognitive behavioral therapy, whereas the treatment group did. The cognitive behavioral therapy was based on private sessions in which the triggers for antisocial behavior were discussed. Trained clinical therapists led the sessions, and the overall effectiveness of the treatment was measured by participant interviews which centered on social functioning, acts of aggression and problematic drinking. After a 12 month follow-up, both the control and treatment group displayed similar trends in a reduction of verbal or physical aggression, thus refuting the primary and long-term effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy. In opposition to such results, studies based on preventative developmental strategies have proven to be more effective in reducing the cases of antisocial personality disorder.