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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

What should be done with antisocial personality disorder in the new edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V)?

Morten Hesse

Author Affiliations

Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, University of Aarhus, Copenhagen, Denmark

BMC Medicine 2010, 8:66  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-66

Published: 27 October 2010

Abstract

Antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, dissocial personality disorder and sociopathy are constructs that have generally been used to predict recidivism and dangerousness, alongside being used to exclude patients from treatment services. However, 'antisocial personality disorder' has recently begun to emerge as a treatment diagnosis, a development reflected within cognitive behaviour therapy and mentalisation-based psychotherapy. Many of the behaviour characteristics of antisocial personality disorder are, at the same time, being targeted by interventions at criminal justice settings. A significantly higher proportion of published articles focusing on antisocial personality concern treatment when compared to articles on psychopathy. Currently, the proposal for antisocial personality disorder for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, suggests a major change in the criteria for this disorder. While the present definition focuses mainly on observable behaviours, the proposed revision stresses interpersonal and emotional aspects of the disorder drawing on the concept of psychopathy. The present commentary suggests that developments leading to improvement in the diagnosis of this type of disorder should, rather than focusing exclusively on elements such as dangerousness and risk assessment, point us to ways in which patients can be treated for their problems.