Antisocial personality disorder

Karen J. Derefinko, Thomas A. Widiger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The present chapter discusses the medical understanding of antisocial personality disorder (APSD), including research concerning its etiology, prevalence, pathology, differential diagnosis, and treatment. ASPD, and the closely related diagnosis of psychopathy, appear to be products of a strong genetic disposition interacting with a variety of environmental contributions. Epidemiological studies indicate that ASPD and psychopathy are much more prevalent in men than in women, a finding that is supported by general personality research. Theories of pathology are numerous, but generally point to several distinct deficits; psychopathy has been associated empirically with abnormal affective processing, neuroanatomical abnormalities, psychophysiological arousal system impairments, deficits in cognitive functioning, and maladaptive personality constellations. While considered diagnostically reliable, ASPD and psychopathy are highly comorbid with substance dependence and narcissistic personality disorder due to similar criteria, making differential diagnosis difficult. Finally, treatment for psychopathy and ASPD remains a very controversial subject; while meta-analytic findings demonstrate positive results, considerable evidence also indicates that these disorders are resistant to typical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Medical Basis of Psychiatry
Subtitle of host publicationFourth Edition
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781493925285
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Springer Science+Business Media New York. All rights reserved.


  • Antisocial
  • Dimensional models
  • Pathology
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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