Be prepared to be introduced to one of Gouda's major pet peeves. I really can't stand it when someone calls a person who is clearly NOT antisocial, antisocial.
"Oh Bob never likes to go out and have fun. He's so antisocial!"
Antisocial behavior does not denote someone who prefers to avoid social contact or someone who isn't a "people person." Granted, this type of person could have some other kind of mental disorder, but that doesn't make him "antisocial."
Antisocial people are not "against social situations" but more like "against society in general." They lack empathy, remorse, and guilt. They have complete disregard for the law and established societal norms. They are unable to process the suffering of others. Feelings of emptiness and emotional bankrupcy often lead people who have Antisocial Personality Disorder to abuse drugs, commit crimes, or engage in other risky behaviors so that they may feel aroused.
The lack of empathy on the part of someone with APD also contributes to their inability to anticipate or feel threatened by the possibility of punishment or pain. You could sit a normal person and an antisocial person (or a psychopath -- there is a difference, and it is confusing, but I will cover it shortly) next to each other and shock them both on the back of the neck with a pair of electrodes. They would both respond to the pain. The difference, though, is that the normal person would be cringing before the next shock. The antisocial person? No anticipatory reaction at all. The following are the DSM-IV criteria for diagnosing someone with APD. The diagnosis must indicate that the person has exhibited three or more of these symptoms since the age of 15 (thank you Wikipedia):
- failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
- deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
- impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
- irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
- reckless disregard for safety of self or others
- consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain steady work or honor financial obligations
- lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
- The individual is at least 18 years of age.
- There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years (conduct disorder refers to extended periods of bedwetting, cruelty to animals, and pyromania, also known as the MacDonald Triad).
- The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a Manic Episode.
Let's start with psychopathy. Pop culture has gone a long way in instilling several misconceptions about this word, which I would like to clear up. First of all, calling someone a "psychopath" is not the same thing as calling them "crazy" or "insane" and it's not the same as "psychosis." Psychosis means someone has lost touch with reality. Also, a psychopath is not necessarily "insane." Insanity is a legal term which is used to determine one's ability to appreciate the wrongful nature of their crime. A psychopath can distinguish between right and wrong like any normal person. The difference is they just lack the ability to care. Furthermore, not all psychopaths are deranged serial killers. Certainly, Ted Bundy was a psychopath, but a miniority of diagnosed psychopaths are violent offenders.
Where do you find most psychopaths? Out in society of course. Many of them have three letters after their names -- "CEO." Indeed, you will be hard pressed to find a single leader of any large corporation who does not exhibit symptoms of pychopathic behavior. These are people who are callous, insensitive, and just as unable to empathize with the suffering of others, traits that are necessary to build an empire. The difference between psychopathy and APD? Well it appears that psychopathy is not listed as an actual personality disorder. Also, a psychopath might not necessarily feel a compulsion to break the law, which is a key component of APD. They can just be manipulative, uncaring cretins within established legal boundaries.
And what about sociopaths? What is the difference, exactly? Well to put it simply, a psychopath seems to be influenced genetically. They were pretty much born faulty. A sociopath can become just as cruel and uncaring, but they are typically driven by social necessity. They are career criminals: mobsters, thieves, drug dealers, gang members.
Now that we've identified all of this, what do we do about it? How in the world can people like this possibly be treated? Well... they can't, really. There is no hope for the psychopath. In fact, some argue that treatments like therapy only strengthen these people's abilities to manipulate. A psychopath is always on the lookout for ways in which they can mimic "normal" people, because although they are devoid of conscience, they are well aware of what society expects of them.
It's scary to think that people like this exist, although it can also be postulated that there is an evolutionary necessity behind the development of such qualities. Survival of the fittest and all. The ability to perform acts without conscience has allowed the for the advancement of society almost as much as it has allowed for its decline. Of course, that can be saved for a philosophy lesson. And I won't be the one teaching that.