Do you know of someone who is deceitful, reckless, and doesn’t care about the feelings of others? Are they impulsive, irresponsible, and involved in criminal behavior? These are classic signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD). While many people refer to ASPD as ‘sociopathy’ or ‘psychopathy,’ these labels are not professionally used for diagnosing purposes. Let’s take a closer look at this mental illness and if health meditation can help with coping.
Understanding ASPD better
ASPD falls into 1 of 4 cluster-B personality disorders within the DSM V, which also includes narcissistic, borderline, and histrionic personality disorders.
At the core of ASPD lies a consistent lack of regard for the rights of others, which generally includes impulsive, irresponsible, and reckless behaviour. People with this condition may take action without considering potential consequences and experience little to no remorse for harm caused due to their behaviour. Since people with this condition don’t follow socially accepted rules or norms theft, manipulation, and other deceit are common. Abuse, neglect, or absent caregivers can increase risk for ASPD when other factors are present, particularly early onset conduct disorder.
Treatment for ASPD
Specific characteristics associated with ASPD, such as self-sufficiency, a tendency to externalize problems, disdain for authority, and general hostility make it less likely for people with ASPD to seek help, decreasing the chance of improvement.
Due to this, treatment for ASPD can become challenging and complex. Even though most people with the condition don’t tend to seek treatment on their own, some however, may reach out for help after their behaviours and actions begin to negatively affect them or someone else.
While ASPD can be difficult to manage, it is not impossible to treat. Treatment often involves therapy and may include medications to help manage the symptoms. Since meditation helps raise self-awareness and help with variety of things in life, one might wonder if it could form a part of treatment for ASPD.
So, Can People with ASPD Benefit from Health Meditation?
“Meditation may help as it can help open certain parts of the brain,” says Dia Suresh, Mumbai based psychologist. Meditation can give one a sense of calm, peace and balance to such people that can help keep their emotional and well-being in check.
“Some people with this condition may not be expressive or in touch with how they feel. Regular practice of meditation in my opinion can also make people with ASPD more aware of their feelings,” she explains.
While stating that it’s not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of health meditation on people with ASPD, she elaborated on what to keep in mind.
“It’s important to remember that meditation may not work for everyone with this condition since such people lack empathy. But in the cases it works or is advised, it shouldn’t be practiced in a group. There’s a high possibility of them teaming up against the practitioner and trying to get rid of them. A guided one on one session is more advisable,” she said.
Meditation isn’t a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of using meditation if you have any of these conditions or are considering it for someone you know.
The first step is acknowledging the problem and staying intrinsically motivated to work through it. Most people with ASPD do not seek help on their own and intervention likely only happens due to legal problems. If you have a loved one who has ASPD, you may find it helpful to talk to a mental health professional. They can help you learn coping skills that will help you set boundaries to protect yourself from harm. Research suggests that those who have the best outlook are those who have stronger social support and better family ties.
Even if initiating treatment goes through a few ups and downs, full engagement may prove the beginning of a happier, healthier, more socially integrated life.
About the author:
Suhasini Jha is a Mumbai-based ex-journalist who has previously worked with Firstpost and Moneycontrol.