7 Myths Around Antisocial Personality Disorder

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Antisocial personality disorder is a condition that comes with much misconception. In movies, ASPD is characterized by remorseless killers and criminals which creates harmful stigmatization. While the condition comes with its set of challenges, it is a well documented and treatable disorder. To better take a look into ASPD, in this article, we’ll be taking a look at nine myths.  

But First What is ASPD?

Antisocial Personality Disorder is a cluster B personality disorder relating to anti-social tendencies (not to be confused with asocial). The typical behaviors consist of:

  • Lying and manipulative behaviors
  • No concept of right or wrong
  • Lack of empathy
  • Frequent issues regarding following laws
  • Trouble with work and relationships

(Source: Mayo Clinic 2019)

1. Psychopaths and Sociopaths are the Same

Psychopathy is typically used to describe someone capable of great harm to others without remorse. Sociopathy is informally referred to as someone with ASPD. While there are parallels between psychopathy and ASPD, the two are not the same. In fact, there is no formal medical diagnosing criteria for a psychopath. The biggest difference between the two lies in how those with ASPD may have a “working conscience;” the ability to know the feelings of right and wrong, but disregard them (Renzoni 2020).  

2. ASPD is Untreatable

Like many other personality disorders, ASPD comes with the stigma that it cannot be treated. While there is no known cure for the condition, there are many treatment options that are effective in helping control it. Care for this disorder needs to specialized and carefully strategized for the individual, but has shown to be effective in the right hands (Renzoni 2020).  

3. ASPD is an Excuse

One of the misconceptions around ASPD lies in the idea that the disorder is used to excuse bad behavior; that it does not exist. This is misguided as there are clear and observable behavioral patterns in people with the condition. Not everyone who has committed a crime is diagnosed with ASPD. Likewise, not everyone diagnosed with ASPD has committed a crime. People with ASPD have certain tendencies that need to be treated and will not go away on their own – similar to most other psychiatric disorders (Robb-Dover 2019).

4. Antisocial is the Same as Asocial

A lot of times when we hear the word “anti-social,” it is to describe someone who is introverted and dislikes talking to others. This is not the proper term however, as anti-social actually refers to behaviors that disregards laws and people. When someone is asocial, they tend to be highly introverted and avoidant of others (Raypole 2019).  

5. The Condition is Not Preventable

While anyone under the age of 18 cannot be formally diagnosed with ASPD, there are indicators that can appear throughout childhood, in many cases, through a conduct disorder. With proper intervention however, it has been noted that this plays a role in preventing the development of the condition. Parenting style coupled with a mental health professional has correlation in preventing signs of antisocial behavior (Tartakovsky 2013). 

6. People With ASPD are Killers

A common misconception about ASPD deals with horribly misguided depictions in the media. These people are portrayed as ice cold killers that take pleasure in hurting others. This is hardly the case as most convicted killers are not diagnosed with ASPD. The desire to kill and ASPD are not necessarily related (Aalai 2019). 

7. People with ASPD are Bad People

While the antisocial behavioral patterns seen in ASPD generally focuses on harming others, it is not to say that everyone with the condition is destined to be a bad person. ASPD is a condition that requires rather intense treatment from mental health professionals and medication to keep under control. People with the right care can lead lives without harming others (Raypole 2019). 

While ASPD receives quite a bit of negative portrayal in the media, the reality is much different. Like any other condition, ASPD can be treated to make life more manageable. It takes getting in contact with the right professional and put on the correct treatment plan to make strides in improvement . What are your thoughts on the issue? Are there any more myths to add? Let us know in the comments.


  • Aalai, A. (2019, August 8). Five Myths About Psychopaths. PsychologyToday. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-first-impression/201908/five-myths-about-psychopaths
  • Brill, A. (2017, June 17). Life with Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). Mind. www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/life-with-antisocial-personality-disorder-aspd/
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019, December 10). Antisocial personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/antisocial-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353928
  • Raypole, B. C. (2019, May 10). Understanding Antisocial Personality: The Stigma Tied to ASPD. GoodTherapy.Org Therapy Blog. www.goodtherapy.org/blog/understanding-antisocial-personality-the-stigma-tied-to-aspd-0510197
  • Renzoni, C. (2020, November 2). Antisocial Personality Disorder Myths. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/antisocial-personality-disorder/related/aspd-myths/
  • Robb-Dover, K. (2020, June 4). Beyond the Movie Myths: The Truth About Antisocial Personality Disorders. FHE Health – Addiction & Mental Health Care. fherehab.com/learning/beyond-myths-truth-about-antisocial/
  • Tartakovsky, M. (2013, April 6). Myths About Antisocial Personality Disorder. PsychCentral. psychcentral.com/blog/surprising-myths-facts-about-antisocial-personality-disorder#1

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