Do “bad boys” turn into antisocial adults?

They can. As children, adults with antisocial personality disorder, or ASP, often were diagnosed with conduct disorder. They routinely mocked authority figures, such as parents, teachers and other adults. They stole from other kids, got into fights and had trouble in and out of school. Many ran away from home.

As the antisocial youth grows up, his problems continue. He can’t keep a job, he’s undependable and he gets fired. He lies. If he marries, it doesn’t last. And if he joins the military, he may be dishonorably discharged. Because of his recklessness and impulsiveness, he may drive fast, drive drunk, get injured or harm others. His sexual promiscuity might lead to HIV, just as his continuing criminal behavior may well lead to prison.

Can ASP be diagnosed and treated?

ASP is best diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional who can recognize its distinctive features. ASP causes significant impairment in a person’s ability to function in life, at work, at home and in school. A complete medical, family and psychological history is essential for diagnosis.

The causes for ASP are generally unknown, but researchers have presented a number of theories, from early brain trauma to a bad environment. No medication is routinely used to treat ASP, but medications are used to treat co-occurring conditions, such as depression and anxiety, and may help control aggression. Half of all people with ASP display fewer antisocial behaviors as they grow older, showing behavioral improvement in their 40s or 50s.

Few individuals seek help for ASP, although often family members and the courts may force them to address their behavior.

 

APA Reference
Black, D. (2006). FAQs About Antisocial Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/faqs-about-antisocial-personality-disorder/000653
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.