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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Dangers Associted with Antisocial Individuals

01/20/2005

Question:

My ex son-in-law is antisocial. What are the risks to our grandsons? Are there any preventative measures our daughter could take?

Answer:

It is important to realize that being "anti-social" can mean different things to different people.  While there is a medical diagnosis called "antisocial personality disorder," the term antisocial is also used to describe everyone from someone who is shy to someone who just has rude manners.

Antisocial personality disorder as a diagnosis requires a mental health professional to ascertain that the following criteria (among others) are met:

There is a consistent pattern of disregard for the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

  1. repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  2. repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  3. impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  4. irritability and aggressiveness, as seen by repeated physical fights or assaults
  5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to keep a job or pay off debts
  7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

A family history of antisocial personality disorder increases your risk of developing the condition, but childhood trauma also has considerable influence. Children with an alcoholic parent, or who have an abusive or chaotic home life, are at increased risk of developing antisocial personality disorder.

The best things you and your daughter can do for your grandsons are to provide safe, loving and disciplined homes.  Counseling and parenting classes would be a good idea.

Good luck!

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati