The history of the antisocial personality is long and complex. You may have heard the terms sociopath and psychopath, which are used to refer to individuals who behave violently, aggressively, and selfishly. The media often apply these labels to serial killers. Indeed, the features of the “psychopath” and “sociopath” are similar to the current descriptions of the antisocial style. It is characterized by a persistent and pervasive disregard for the needs and rights of others.
Antisocial personality traits can often be seen already in early childhood, for example, in the form of aggression toward people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, or the serious violation of rules. In adulthood, antisocial personalities usually continue to engage in behaviors that harm others, and they tend to be indifferent to how their behavior affects other people.
In contrast with other personality styles, most of the features of the antisocial personality are behaviors that can be observed, rather than thoughts or feelings that the therapist must attempt to analyze. Behaviors such as being indifferent to the interests of others, failure to obey the law, harassment, theft, or fraud.
Antisocial individuals are usually deceitful and manipulative and will lie or charm others to obtain money, power, or sex. Lying is a common trait among people with antisocial personality, and antisocial personalities can typically tell lies with ease.
While many antisocials can be devious and charming, and good at manipulating others, the antisocial temperament is at root impulsive. Antisocial personalities can only hold back their true intentions for so long before they have to discharge their pent-up frustration, or chase a new gratification, such as sex, alcohol, gambling, fraud, and so on.
Many antisocials have trouble holding a job, and even antisocials who at first glance appear successful will typically have a resume characterized by lots of different jobs held in quick succession.
The antisocial temperament is irritable and aggressive. Many engage in physical fights and may end up in prison. However, if the antisocial is a high-IQ individual, one will typically see these same tendencies unfold in the domain of interpersonal manipulation instead. The antisocial is still irritable and aggressive, but they use these dark sensations as a catalyst to manipulate and defraud others, rather than fight them with their fists.
Some antisocials also display a marked disregard for their own safety, along with that of others, and may engage in drug abuse, unsafe sex, or reckless driving.
Despite the harm they cause, most antisocials do not feel remorse and guilt. In fact, many are constitutionally incapable of such emotions. They may understand that others regard their actions as deplorable and adjust their demeanor to give the impression that they regret what they have done. But inwardly, they almost never do.
Antisocial individuals are cynical, callous, arrogant, and cocky. Some antisocials are also extremely intelligent and charming. Their combination of charm, recklessness, and indifference to others can create an extremely manipulative and potentially dangerous person and, for reasons that are not fully understood, this charming but dangerous personality can often be extremely attractive to certain women. Whether they be blue-collar brawlers or white-collar fraudsters, many antisocials have scores of female fans and admirers, who often know full well that the antisocial is mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
The antisocial personality is noticeably more common in males than in females, with studies reporting the ratio to be somewhere between one-to-three and one-to-five.
In the history of psychology, most therapists have traditionally regarded antisocial personalities as untreatable. However, not everyone agrees, and some therapists believe they can help antisocial personalities to consider a broader range of actions and consequences before rushing to discharge their frustration. At any rate, almost everyone agrees that the antisocial style is one of the most difficult personalities to treat.