Antisocial personality is a serious disorder of adulthood that is highly refractory to treatment. Indeed, its prognosis is so poor that the most viable strategy may be to focus on the eventual development of preventive interventions. Because antisocial personality clearly arises from childhood conduct problems (Robins, 1966), researchers have long sought to specify the characteristics of those children who will later develop antisocial personality. When this is accomplished, the etiology of antisocial personality can be studied at the time of its earliest emergence and preventive interventions can be developed. Currently however, there are serious gaps in our knowledge about the childhood origins of antisocial personality.
There are several diagnoses that have been implicated in the development of Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) (or ASPD sometimes) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), including Conduct Disorder (CD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The essential features of CD are a repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others and major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated. ODD is a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviour toward authority figures, which leads to impairment. The most important features of ADHD are overactivity, impulsivity, and attention problems at levels atypical for a child's age.
Although most evidence suggests that CD always precedes Antisocial Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), some evidence suggests that antisocial personality often arises in individuals with a history of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) during childhood, instead of CD.
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