Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), sometimes called sociopathy, has a wide range of possible symptoms. Have you been involved with a “sociopathic” person? If so, your sense of self and even your reality may have gotten lost in the cycle of the Antisocial Personality Disorder person’s following traits: (1) lack of empathy and respect for others, (2) continual controlling and manipulative behaviors, (3) frequent lying, (4) no guilt or remorse for aggressive behaviors or verbal abuse, (5) prone to substance abuse, infidelity, physical abuse to one’s romantic partner, and criminal activities, (6) disregard for work expectations, resulting in frequently losing jobs, (7) isolation of one’s romantic partner from friends and family, (8) often avoids responsibilities related to family, work, or school, and (9) poor impulse and anger control.
When I explain this disorder to my students or to my friends, I emphasize the reality that many Antisocial Personality Disorder people are highly intelligent, charming, attractive, and successful. They begin romantic relationships with extreme adoration, physical affection, constant attention, and flattering words to their partner. They are very skilled at manipulative behavior and lying to satisfy their selfish needs, and they can convince their romantic partners that their behaviors and choices are the “best way” to do everything. They can be so well-spoken and can adapt to any social situation. They like to control every situation, and their romantic partners feel pressured to constantly agree with their opinions and to satisfy their demands. Their focus is always on personal gain or pleasure, with no regard for the consequences. They can also exhibit narcissistic traits, such as gaslighting and a sense of superiority and entitlement over everyone. Lastly, they have very poor impulse control and anger control, which can lead to legal problems, self-destructive behaviors, and violence in relationships.
Effects of Antisocial Personality Disorder on the Romantic Partner
If you are involved in a relationship with an ASPD partner, you may feel like a prisoner in your own home. You may believe that you are inadequate when you cannot “fix” that person’s behavioral problems. You may “walk on eggshells” when speaking to the ASPD person, due to the fear of rejection, criticism, the receiving end of poor impulse control, and anger. Your self-worth may be so low that you often believe that you cannot get anyone better than your Antisocial Personality Disorder partner. You may experience anxiety, depression, or PTSD, due to the continual monitoring of your ASPD partner’s moods, the emotional abuse, manipulative behavior, and your self-doubt. You must not allow yourself to feel sorry for your ASPD partner or to take the blame for all that upsets your Antisocial Personality Disorder partner. Another emotional strain is the isolation from your family and friends, which is often demanded by an ASPD partner. This isolation is created to control you, and your ASPD partner may convince your family and friends that you are the cause of the relationship problems and that you are “crazy” or “unstable.”
Your needs and wishes will always be unimportant or secondary to those of your ASPD partner, but you cannot express your true feelings due to the fear of threats, degradation, and other negative reactions. It is impossible for an ASPD person to compromise with one’s partner, to apologize, and to admit to any wrongdoing or lying. Furthermore, the ASPD person is capable of only superficial “love” and will do anything to keep up this façade. You don’t want to speak honestly about the relationship, because you will risk retaliation from your ASPD partner.
Recovery from or dealing with an ASPD partner requires the development of thoughts which promote your self-compassion and self-love. Personal empowerment is key in regaining your sense of self-control and emotional stability. You can apply the survival mode skills, which have been necessary in your relationship with your ASPD partner, to your new self-talk and coping behaviors focused only on YOUR well-being. Self-talk, such as “I cannot change this person, but I can change my reactions,” and “I have the inner strength to separate myself mentally and emotionally from this person.” If you find your mind drifting off to thoughts of responsibility for the relationship or feelings of guilt regarding the relationship, a valuable skill to learn is “thought stopping.” You can learn how to consciously deflect the negative energy of your ASPD partner’s words and actions by replacing your self-defeating thoughts with inspiring thoughts about your future and your new path away from the emotional cage. You can do thought stopping by visualizing being somewhere else, by repeating empowering mantras, by praying, or by physically taking a “time-out.” The harsh reality is that the ideal way to deal with an Antisocial Personality Disorder partner is to go “no contact.” and avoid situations that allow for continued manipulative behavior. You have a better chance of recovery if you completely cut this person out of your life. Going “no contact” is a very difficult process, and it may be impossible if you have financial and legal ties to an ASPD partner, in cases of having children and/or sharing a residence.
Treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder
There are several reasons why it is difficult to treat Antisocial Personality Disorder. The main reason is that the ASPD person does not believe that there is a need for therapy, because everyone else in one’s environment has the problem, and the ASPD person is the victim. Moreover, the ASPD person has a complete lack of remorse, regret, and personal responsibility for one’s behaviors and avoids introspection. This disorder is of great interest to neuroscientists who do studies using MRI’s of the brains of violent criminals. The common findings have shown differences in poor impulse control, emotional processing, decision-making, and anger control centers of the brain. In sum, research has found that a commonality among ASPD people is that they have little to no conscience or emotional capacity.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the main therapeutic approach used for ASPD clients. The therapist guides the client in identifying irrational thinking patterns and controlling, dysfunctional behaviors. The ASPD client is prompted to explore one’s past experiences and to understand different emotions. Honestly, ASPD is very difficult to treat, due to low motivation and refusal to acknowledge problematic thoughts and behaviors. If the ASPD person is motivated enough to talk about one’s behaviors, the therapist would develop a plan of positive reinforcement when monitoring theAntisocial Personality Disorder client’s weekly progress with changing or stopping the identified problematic behaviors. Cognitive and behavioral modification can effectively improve the ASPD client’s relationships, recognize when exhibiting manipulative behavior, work performance, self-awareness, poor impulse control, and self-control. However, you cannot force someone to change their behaviors, even with therapy.
Medication Management & Counseling
New Age Psychiatry offers licensed and certified psychiatric services through virtual telehealth appointments within the state of Florida. We understand the complexities that come with mental health disorders and symptoms, and we will work hard to help you manage your condition.
New Age Psychiatry is a modern mental health service in Florida that approaches addiction and other mental health issues with compassion and forward-thinking techniques. New Age Psychiatry offers certified psychiatric services through telehealth appointments in Florida. Some of the highlights of the New Age Psychiatry approach include:
- Online Screening – We will begin with certified online screening to provide an overview of psychiatric care. We also offer a personalized, specific diagnosis through our psychiatric Telehealth services.
- Diagnosis, Recovery, & Treatment – Our full range of comprehensive psychiatric telehealth services can aid in treating a multitude of psychiatric illnesses and assist in the recovery process in alcoholism.
- Telehealth Services – Our psychiatric telehealth services are available throughout the state of Florida and can assist you in psychiatric care through counseling and medication management