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Mental Health

Identifying Antisocial Personality Disorder

01/02/2008

Question:

I`ve been dating a 55 yr old man on and off for a year. The `off` parts always arise from social interactions. He holds a senior sales position so one would imagine a certain ability to mingle and know how to behave (he travels extensively on business attending conferences etc.). However, every (I am not exaggerating) social event we attend is marred by foul & abusive language or his complete withdrawal (sitting in a corner, arms folded then wanting to go home after the first hour). Dinner parties at my place have seen him go off to bed in the middle of dinner!

The very last straw came just before Christmas when I asked if I may invite a friend of mine. This is someone he knows well and so far the only friend he has not misbehaved around.

He flew into a rage saying his children would never stand for it. His children are grown and no longer live with him. When I asked what the real problem was, he said he wasn`t prepared to discuss it and stormed out. I have not heard from him since. He did send his daughter to tell me that he has cancelled Christmas lunch plans and will be playing golf instead. This is also usual, sometimes it can take up to 2 months before he contacts me again.

These tantrums are very common and he has no ability to talk anything through. He either flies into a rage and storms out or goes to bed = seriously, sometimes we`ve been discussing things and he`ll say "I`m going to bed now" even if it`s 4pm! When he is ready to talk, or apologise, he inevitably denies a lot of the things he said or did or seems to wait for sufficient time to come up with a plausible explanation. In his marriage (he divorced 5yrs ago) he says they never entertained and seldom went out. This was of course his ex-wife`s fault but reviewing his behaviour of the past year, I do wonder if that is correct.

He has no friends of his own, so I cannot say whether this behaviour is in reaction to mine or whether there is something else going on. He`s met about 10 of my friends and managed to offend all but one.

Usually after the fact, he comes around here or to my friends with expensive gifts and apologies - but after a year of this we all know he`ll do it again so his remorse is questionable.

The rest of the time he is of course as nice as pie, very generous, very helpful and a good listener. I must just add that these rages/tantrums are not violent. He doesn`t get physical with me but you can see he`s having a tantrum - puce in the face, spittle flying and then of course storming out.

So is it possible he has something like ASPD or is he just an exceptionaly selfish? I know he`ll pitch up again one of these days but I am loathe to resume a relationship with someone who seems to need to sabotage every social event

Answer:

I am really not sure what may be going on. A psychiatric evaluation would be in order, but the information does not immediately indicate a particular kind of psychiatric condition. You may also consider talking to a therapist to help you sort out what you want to do about this relationship. Sorry I cannot be more specific.

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Response by:

Radu   Saveanu, MD Radu Saveanu, MD
Formerly:
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University