Issue 106 / July - August 2015
Antisocial Personality Disorder
His scores are dropping. He does not attend most of the classes. He does not like any of the rules. He asks all the time, "Why are we supposed to obey these rules which limit our freedoms anyway?" While driving, he hates red lights and speed limits, but he extremely enjoys tailgating and scaring other drivers. He heavily smokes and drinks, for he thinks he should taste every pleasure.
Antisocial personality disorder manifests itself in different ways, but it often means having no regard for rules, an obsession to immediately do whatever one wishes, and disregard for the wishes of others. People diagnosed with this disorder feel they have the power to do anything they like and are authorized to act as they wish. For them, it is their natural right to trouble others and they feel no remorse for their actions, which can lead them into criminal behavior. During childhood, they tend to lie, steal, skip school, and harm their peers. They show a higher level of inclination to abuse alcohol and drugs. They pay no heed to what others think about them. They are spurred on by their inner instincts and recognize no obstacles. They do not learn from punishments or painful experiences. On the contrary, they do their best to convince others that they were right in their actions. If they commit a crime, the society and their families are the usual suspects; for they are the product of the society and the family, both of which deserve to be punished. There are many instances in which such people lay all the blame on their parents, and may go so far as to even harm them.
"If I believe in something, then it should be right," is a typical argument they frequently voice. When they are not willing to do something, they are absolutely sure it is not right to do that thing.
There are various theories as to how antisocial personality disorder comes about: genetic heritage, parents' treatment of the child (especially in the earlier stages of development), an of parents' absence or pathological behavior. Parents' connection with children has an important effect on developing moral values, which will serve as checks and balances over the child's ego. Parents' balanced reaction to a child who harms his or her friend, or keeps lying all the time, will be a major factor that will determine the child's personality.
Antisocial behavior could also develop from negative learning. For instance, if a child yells and cries when he is told to tidy up his room and eventually manages to force his parent to retreat, this may plant a seed in the child to adopt this attitude because it works.
Education of antisocial personality
Parents have a huge responsibility in helping their children to overcome this disorder. Parents have to work hard to ensure that their child develops healthy relations with the larger family and the social community, and that they set goals worth accomplishing. Socializing with others, visiting neighbors and the sick, attending funerals together, greeting others, teaching them to help the poor, and similar activities can be useful.
Establishing a peaceful family environment is also necessary. Growing up in such a family, children will develop a sense of responsible parenthood and lasting relationships, which will help to protect the next generation. Parents should be supportive of their children when they come of age and want to have their own families.
Helping others through charity is a significant hindrance to the development of antisocial behavior. Charity is, by definition, an altruistic act where one learns to empathize with others. The recurrent emphasis on charity in many faith traditions defines the act in a variety of forms, which enables people from every class to be a part of it. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said charity includes even a smile or one's effort to prevent himself from harming others.
Setting higher goals in one's life is also helpful in overcoming one's tendencies towards violence. Goals will bring meaning and purpose to one's life and will help the person develop constructive relations with others.
One of the difficult aspects of antisocial personality disorder is the inclination to alcohol and drug abuse. This is not easy to fight against, for alcohol and drugs give the person even more audacity and aggressiveness, albeit for a short period of time. Such rebellion against established social principles can cause even further imbalance.
Spiritual nourishment is also necessary to eliminate the reasons that lead to antisocial disorder. It is important in faith traditions to raise awareness that each and every one of us will eventually be held accountable for our behavior, that our actions are being observed and recorded accordingly by the Divine, and that it is compulsory to live a balanced life without going to extremes and violating others' rights.