Understanding Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD). Causes, Influences, and Intervention

Author: Yean Toh | Published date: June 15, 2023 | Category: Mental Wellness, Mind

What Affects Judgement and Online Behaviour

Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a complex psychological condition characterized by a range of behavioral and emotional traits. Individuals with ASPD often exhibit difficulties conforming to social norms, maintaining commitments, and engaging in reckless behavior. They may struggle with feelings of remorse or empathy and display deceitful, self-serving behaviors. This article explores the factors contributing to ASPD, including biological influences, social factors, and attachment styles. Additionally, it highlights the importance of intervention and overcoming the barriers to treatment for individuals with ASPD.

ASPD and Biological Influences

Research has shown that individuals with ASPD exhibit brain abnormalities in the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex. These abnormalities are associated with higher dopamine levels and low serotonin levels, leading to impulsive behavior, poor decision-making, and difficulties in emotional information processing. People with ASPD may struggle to comply with social rules and tend to be insensitive to punishment and threats.

Social Influences on ASPD

Childhood experiences play a significant role in the development of ASPD. Growing up in an unsafe environment where violence is often witnessed or experienced can contribute to the manifestation of antisocial traits. Additionally, individuals with ASPD may have been deprived of the opportunity to develop healthy coping mechanisms, and they may model aggressive behaviors they have experienced in their early years. Attachment style also plays a role, particularly in the insecure-dismissive style, where the individual views the world as unsafe, feels undeserving of love, and tends to react with aggression.

Intervention for ASPD

Therapy is a crucial component in addressing ASPD and its associated behaviors. It aims to modify current behaviors and reactions to events, as well as address underlying childhood experiences and learned behaviors. By exploring early childhood experiences and learned behavior, therapy can influence an individual's perception of the world, consequently impacting their current behaviors and responses to events. It is important for those with ASPD to take a leap of faith and seek professional help, as change is possible with the right support and guidance.

Barriers to Treatment

ASPD presents unique challenges in treatment due to consistent patterns of doubt and uncertainty experienced in childhood. These patterns often result in mistrust of others, including figures of authority, and a prioritization of self-protection over forming genuine connections. This inherent distrust can make it difficult for individuals with ASPD to comply with treatment and fully engage in the therapeutic process. Overcoming these barriers requires a commitment to personal growth and a willingness to challenge deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors.


Understanding ASPD and its underlying factors is essential for effective intervention and treatment. Biological influences, social experiences, and attachment styles contribute to the development and manifestation of ASPD. By addressing these factors through therapy, individuals with ASPD can change their behaviors, improve their quality of life, and build healthier relationships. Despite the barriers to treatment, seeking help is crucial, and with professional guidance, individuals with ASPD can embark on a path of personal transformation and growth.

Dr Shawn Ee.

BSc. BPsych. DPsych.(Clinical), Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Registered Psychologist (AHPRA; Australia) 



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