Anti-Social Personality: A curse to society
According to Allport, “Personality is the dynamic organization within the individual of those psychological systems that determine his unique adjustment to his environment.”
Psychologists from all over the world have defined personality in different ways and have researched behaviours which are otherwise considered abnormal resulting in several forms of the disorder. Often, such an unhealthy pattern of thinking, behaviour and functioning are paid no attention and many a time the causes for such behaviours are ignored or not taken seriously.
Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a set of personality traits in which a person consistently show no regard for the right or wrong; ignore other’s right, emotions and feelings. Such people tend to antagonize, manipulate others or treat them harshly or are insensitive and have cruel disregard for others or callous indifference without any guilt or remorse for their behaviour.
Individuals often violate the law becoming criminals and the disorder is diagnosed usually after the crime is already committed. Violent or impulsive actions, addiction to alcohol and drugs, constant lying, dual personality are few associated with the anti-social personality disorder. Ignoring these symptoms over a period of time leads to poor interpersonal relationships, counter-productivity at work and poor or irresponsible handling of the finances, manipulating others for short term pleasure and lack of sympathy, empathy and humanity.
Interestingly, direct cause for this disorder is unknown but researchers have identified two main factors and these are:
• Genes lead to antisocial behaviour, ignoring such behaviours in the early stages of childhood result in developing the pattern during adolescence to early adulthood.
• Abnormal brain functioning is a major cause determined through brain imaging studies.
However, researchers have come up with different studies about the cause. One theory suggests that abnormalities in the nervous systems result in poor or slow learning development, bedwetting and hyperactivity. According to another study, if the expecting mothers smoked during pregnancy, their offspring were at risk of developing disorders affecting the fetus brain.
Social and home environment also contribute to the development of anti-social behaviour. It’s seen that the parents of troubled children are also the victim of this disorder. While several other studies suggest that delinquent boys were often alcoholic or criminal while their homes were disrupted by divorce, separation or the absence of one parent. Emotional injuries during childhood due to erratic or inappropriate discipline and inadequate supervision have been linked to the disorder. Child abuse is also a major factor as early childhood abuse is more harmful because it can result in damage to certain parts of the brain as well. On the other hand, if parents/ guardians/ caretakers identify minor behavioural changes during childhood and take actions for it, the anti-social disorder can be cured to a certain extent.
Symptoms of Anti-social disorder:
• Violation of the physical or emotional rights of others.
• Lack of stability in the job, personal life and at home.
• Easily provoked aggression and persistent irritability.
• Lack of remorse or guilt for the wrong things that they to others.
• The absence of a sense of responsibility.
• Recklessness, impulsivity.
• Disregard for societal norms/ethics and law in particular.
• A childhood diagnosis (or consistent symptoms) of conduct disorder.
Antisocial personality can be confirmed by a psychological evaluation. Other disorders should be ruled out first, as this is a serious diagnosis. The alcohol and drug abuse are very common among people with an antisocial personality disorder which can further exacerbate symptoms of this disorder. Conditions where substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder coexist, treatment becomes more complicated for both the disorders.
Treatment for anti-social disorder mostly depends on person’s overall situation, cause, willingness to participate in the treatment, severity of symptoms and the total duration of the existence of the disorder. However, there are a few techniques that can help the individual to cope up with the situation. These are:
1. Psychotherapy: Therapy known as talk therapy which includes anger and violence management, substance-induced addictions and associated mental conditions. This method can be used at the early stages of the disorder and the success obviously depends on the person’s willingness to change themselves.
2. Cognitive therapy: Therapists use several techniques which can anticipate the person’s emotions and present an attitude of acceptance without moralizing to turn the person in the right direction. Sometimes, the person’s criminal past, irresponsibility and unpredictable tendency towards violence may make the whole process difficult.
3. Family counselling: Bringing family members for communication may help the person to realize the impact of their disorder. Problems like: trouble maintaining an emotional attachment to his spouse or partner, inability to be a good parent, problems with honesty and responsibility, anger leading to domestic violence and problems caused due to addiction or substance abuse can be addressed during family counselling. If the society, parents, and guardians encourage the individual and they themselves start living a happy, sensitive- humane life and set an example for future generations, most of the psychological disorders like this will disappear.