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Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) is perhaps the most frightening of all personality disorders, as well as one of the most difficult to diagnose. Personality disorders in general are defined as inflexible, maladaptive, personality traits that cause personal distress or an inability to get along with others. APD specifically is characterized by deceitfulness, lack of regret or remorse over actions, impulsiveness, aggression towards others or animals, irresponsibility and a general failure to conform to the norms of society. The person with APD can be described as one who feels nothing or almost nothing towards any other living thing, except perhaps contempt. However, they can still be quite charming when it suits them (such as con artists)and they can appear quite normal to the average person.
It is possible that the development of APD begins in childhood, although it is not diagnosed as such until after eighteen years of age. In childhood, Conduct Disorder carries almost identical symptoms to APD. Patterns of blatant disregard for rules and authority, aggression, habitual lying, a tendency toward stealing and destruction of property that occur early in life may point to APD as an adult. It appears that somewhere along the line, moral development simply fails. Studies have also shown that symptoms of the disorder may begin to decrease at age 35 - 40, with violent crimes dropping off sharply but crimes such as theft and cons continuing until very late in life.
On the other hand, a person may appear normal in childhood and still be diagnosed with APD as an adult. Such was the case with Ted Bundy, the "chi omega killer". By all accounts of family and friends, Ted was an average child, quiet and a good student. It wasn't until he reached his teens that subtle signs of APD began to appear. He has stated that he began to feel something was different about himself around the time he entered junior high. While all the other boys were turning their attention to girls, he could not understand what they were feeling or why. It was also about that time that he learned the person he thought of as his older sister was instead his mother and he began to have problems getting along with his step-father. From there his "differences" became increasingly evident to him yet he managed to mask the madness building within, managing to go undetected until he had slaughtered and sexually abused more than twenty young women.
In classic APD form, he lied extensively about the details of his life, abused alcohol and dabbled in drugs, could not hold a job for a long period, dropped in and out of college many times (lying his way in) and exhibited kleptomaniac behavior, stealing anything and everything from anywhere. He could not maintain an intimate, long lasting relationship with a woman. In fact, he says that he did not understand intimacy - what it was or how to achieve it. Even after his conviction, he rationalized that he knew so many details about the murders because he had been at the center of the investigation for so long as a suspect. In interviews, he spoke as a third person, observing and analyzing the killing as though someone else had done it.
All of the people around him, in day to day life still claim that they can't believe this is the same guy they knew. That has got to be the most terrifying aspect of APD - that someone so insidious, so very dangerous, can blend into society, assuming any identity, being so very charming and gregarious , looking all the while like "just the guy or girl next door".
The true epidemiology of APD is unclear due to the nature of deceitfulness involved causing it to remain hidden in many people who have it. Also, many people who might be considered to have APD may only be exhibiting some aspects of antisocial behavior. In addition, not all people with APD will commit the violent crimes that ultimately reveal them.
Currently, some experts believe that as much as 20% of the population of the U.S. may suffer from some type of mental illness. A more conservative estimate is about 12 - 15% when researchers narrowed their focus to only those having clusters of symptoms that occur over extended periods and actually impair a persons ability to function. APD has been found to occur in roughly 3% of males in the U.S. and about 1% of females. In prison populations, however, APD is found
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
Names referenced in this report
John Wayne Gacy, Ted, Ted Bundy, Jr.,
Organizations talked about in this research material
APD, Patuxent Institute,
Locations talked about in this research material
U.S., Texas, Las Vegas, woods, Jessup, Mo,
Health Conditions included in this research paper
Conduct Disorder, depression, Schizophrenia, irritability,
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Keywords mentioned in this essay
antisocial behavior, personality disorder, substance abuse, drugs, antisocial personality disorder, symptoms, Gacy, Conduct Disorder, violent crimes, manic episode, a woman, patient, John Wayne Gacy, family therapy, adult, reckless disregard, child abuse, such a horror, family and friends, personality traits, adopted child, mental disorders, substance abusers, work behavior, societal norms, Paranoid Personality, sexually abused, parietal lobes, blood clot, Ted Bundy, neglect, living thing, social norms, formative years, alcoholic, moral development, mental illness, personal distress, inner cities, killer clown, chi omega, electrical conductance, long term, Pathological Gambling, these things, ethnic minority, token economy, odd jobs, drug addicts, environmental factors,