The dark path to antisocial personality disorder

February 7, 2012, Elsevier

With no lab tests to guide the clinician, psychiatric diagnostics is challenging and controversial. Antisocial personality disorder is defined as "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood," according to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association.

DSM-IV provides formal diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder. This process may be guided by rating scales that measure the traits and features associated with a personality disorder. But, until now, no one has studied the dimensional structure associated with the DSM antisocial personality disorder criteria.

Dr. Kenneth Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University and colleagues examined questionnaire and from adult twins. They found that the DSM-IV criteria do not reflect a single dimension of liability but rather are influenced by two dimensions of reflecting aggressive-disregard and disinhibition.

"When psychiatrists, as clinicians or researchers, think about our psychiatric disorders, we tend to think of them as one thing – one kind of disorder – a reflection of one underlying dimension of liability," said Dr. Kendler. "This is also true of genetics researchers. We tend to want to identify and then detect 'the' risk genes underlying disorder X or Y."

Kendler added, "What is most interesting about the results of this paper is that they falsify this inherent and rather deeply held assumption. Genetic risk factors for antisocial personality disorder are not one thing. Rather, the disorder, as conceptualized by DSM-IV, reflects two distinct genetic dimensions of risk."

"The findings from this study make sense. The distinction between the two sets of heritable traits contributing to , aggressive-disregard and disinhibition, highlights the complexity of unraveling the genes contributing to this personality style. We now have some puzzle pieces, but we have a long way to go to fit these pieces together," commented Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.

Explore further: Study looks more closely at personality disorders

More information: The article is "A Multivariate Twin Study of the DSM-IV Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder" by Kenneth S. Kendler, Steven H. Aggen, and Christopher J. Patrick (doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.05.019). The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 71, Issue 3 (February 1, 2012)

Related Stories

Study looks more closely at personality disorders

September 21, 2011
A newly published paper from Rhode Island Hospital argues against the proposed changes to redefine the number of personality disorders in the upcoming Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-5). In their study, the ...

The impact of deleting 5 personality disorders in the new DSM-5

January 24, 2012
A newly published paper from Rhode Island Hospital reports on the impact to patients if five personality disorders are removed from the upcoming revision to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-5). Based ...

DSM-5 proposed criteria for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis

January 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed new diagnostic criteria for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for autism. While final decisions ...

Recommended for you

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.