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The Causes and Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder in Women

written by: Rene Wolf • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/19/2010

Women with antisocial personality disorder have symptoms of violence, lying, inappropriate behavior and are constantly in trouble with the law. The causes of women with antisocial personality disorder have been linked to physical, verbal and sexual child abuse.

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    Antisocial personality disorder is a chronic mental disorder that affects thoughts and the way situations are perceived. The causes and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder in women can have serious effects on their relationships with others. Women with antisocial personality disorder will often have substance abuse problems, violent behaviors and no regard for what is right and wrong. The disorder is often referred to as sociopath personality disorder.

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    Symptoms

    Women with APD often begin to show signs of the disorder in childhood with symptoms increasing as they age. During their mid twenties, the symptoms begin to intensify and will often decrease over time. Even as a woman with APD ages and symptoms begin to subside, she will typically continue to have difficulties in forming relationships or might be involved in several dysfunctional relationships. Common symptoms of women with antisocial personality disorder include:

    • Repeatedly breaking of the law
    • Deceitfulness and/or repeated lying
    • Impulsive behavior
    • Aggressive and/or violent behavior and irritability
    • Complete disregard of safety for themselves and/or others
    • Irresponsible behavior in regards to family, work and/or finances
    • Lack of guilt and remorse about harming others
    • An inability to feel empathy or sympathy towards others
    • Complete lack of concern for their behavior and/or actions
    • An inability to learn from or modify behaviors based past experiences or the prediction of future outcomes
    • Abusive thoughts and behavior towards other humans and/or animals
    • Continuous property destruction
    • Attempts to use humor and/or charm for manipulation and intimidation of others
    • Violation of the rights of others
    • Involved repeatedly in poor and/or abusive relationships
    • Extreme outbursts of agitation

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    Causes

    An individual's personality is formed during their childhood and is basically forged through the combination of two different factors, inheritance and the environment. Antisocial personality disorder is thought to be caused by the combination of both genetic and environmental influences. The environment consists of the surroundings an individual grows up in and the events that occurred during childhood. Genetic or inherited tendencies are the traits of personality that are passed on through parents. An individual may have a genetic predisposition to antisocial personality disorder and undergo a traumatic environmental situation, such as child abuse, that will trigger the development of the disorder.

    Antisocial personality disorder is somewhat of an uncommon condition in women and only affects approximately one percent of all women. Though it continues to be a mystery as what exactly is the cause of this disorder, medical professionals such as those at the Mayo clinic, have associated the greatest risk of the disorder to women -

    • With a family history of APD or other mental disorders
    • With a history of verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse during childhood
    • Who have suffered the loss of a parent through death or divorce during childhood
    • Who have had an unstable environment while growing up.
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    Continuous Cycle

    Women with antisocial personality disorder are notorious for becoming involved in adult relationships that are similar to those in which they grew up. It is not uncommon for APD women to be physically, verbally and sexually abused as adults, as well as be the abuser. Being in a dysfunctional relationship during their adulthood acts as a trigger of their symptoms. This increases their maladaptive, violent and irresponsible behaviors.

    When daughters of these women witness the erratic and inappropriate behaviors of their mother, they are more likely to develop the symptoms of the condition.

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