He is the bad boy in high school — stealing stuff from other kids and lying about it, picking fights, getting poor grades. But he doesn’t seem to care. Grown up, he’s a con artist — can’t hold a decent job, thinks life isn’t fair, and he’s still stealing and getting away with it most of the time.

Someone with antisocial personality disorder has a reckless disregard for others and often for himself (most people with antisocial personality disorder are male). He doesn’t want to conform to social norms and willfully destroys property, steals or manipulates others for personal profit, or overindulges in pleasure-seeking behavior (for example, he speeds, drives while drunk, engages in risky sex or uses drugs).

Life may not seem fair to him because he impulsively bounces from job to job and isn’t successful in relationships. As a husband, he’s an irresponsible failure and a poor parent who neglects his children’s needs and feels no remorse — perhaps he even batters his wife. If he entered the military to “straighten out,” chances are he was dishonorably discharged.

He is arrogant, even cocky, yet charming while manipulating others for his own gain. He has little concern about his current problems and certainly not for the future. He defaults on debts and can end up homeless, if not imprisoned. Ultimately, he is more likely than other individuals to commit suicide or die by violent means, such as an accident.

The guiltless pattern of social irresponsibility demonstrated by someone with antisocial personality disorder, or ASP, begins in early childhood or adolescence. Antisocial behaviors range from relatively minor acts, such as lying or cheating, to heinous acts, including torture, rape and murder.

Though widespread, the ASP’s importance is rarely acknowledged or recognized. As psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley once noted, the antisocial person is “the forgotten man of psychiatry who probably causes more unhappiness and more perplexity to the public than all mentally disordered patients combined.”

This serious personality disorder is difficult to treat and only half of those treated show some reduction in antisocial behaviors. For this disorder, the best treatment may be in preventing children with conduct disorders to continue their destructive paths into adulthood.