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Ronald Reagan assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. (Wolf, 1999) Mr. Hinckley

attempted to assassinate the president to impress movie star Jodie Foster. After the

arrest and trial of Hinckley, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. (Wolf,

1999) This brought up a lot of controversy, and Hinckley was admitted to a

psychiatric hospital where he has stayed since. This brings up the question of who

should and who shouldn¶t be considered insane at the time of a crime. All states
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have variations on the insanity defense. But usually these crimes must be

committed in times where the criminal cannot control his impulses to commit such a

crime. This is not always true in the case of those with antisocial personality

disorder, who usually can control their actions. (Hare, 1999) Still, those with this

disorder are considered ³natural born criminals,´ and it is questionable whether the

insanity defense should be used to help treat these individuals instead of

incarcerate them.

Those with antisocial personality disorder fall under the category of ³moral

insanity.´ (Feeny, 2003) These individuals are deemed to be ³moral imbeciles´ in

the sense that they can¶t really differentiate between right and wrong. Some argue

that those with antisocial personality disorder have the ability to internalize rules

and structures; others argue that these types of individuals lack a clear conscience,


Psychopathy is the second construct that is frequently confused with

antisocial personality disorder, or used in the place of AsPD. (Psychopathy, 2008)

Psychopathy was coined a psychological construct, that falls on a spectrum of

disorders ranging from narcissistic personality disorder on the low end, malignant

narcissism in the middle, and psychopathy on the high end. It is uncertain whether

psychopathy is more closely related to narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial

personality disorder, but both disorders seem to be present in psychopathy.

Typically, those in the field of psychology use antisocial personality disorder

interchangeably with psychopathy because the two have many overlapping

symptoms. (Psychopathy, 2008) The criteria for psychopathy are outlined through

the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which is listed as:


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(Hare, 2002)

The overlapping of antisocial and narcissistic tendencies indicates that psychopaths

are a cross-hybrid of both the antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder. Others

in the field of psychology argue that psychopathy is merely antisocial personality

disorder developed through psychological/biological means. Research on


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psychopathy is currently ambiguous, but there does seem to be a close connection

between psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder.

Other disorders that may overlap or be mistaken for antisocial personality

disorder are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder,

schizophrenia and a host of other disorders. (Hare, 1992) Those with ADHD, bipolar

or schizophrenia may act in impulsive and antisocial manners. Low social cognition

combined with other psychological disorders may cause an individual to develop

antisocial tendencies (and many may meet the criteria for antisocial personality

disorder). Those with ADHD have the tendency to be impulsive and hyperactive.

They may engage in frequent antisocial behaviors, and may also become subject of

arrests through their lifetime. Those with bipolar disorder experience periods of

mania, in which they have trouble controlling their behaviors. (Diagnostic and

Statistics Manual IV, 2000) This may lead to impulsive and hyperactive periods

similar to those with ADHD. Those with schizophrenia undergo periods of negative

and positive symptoms. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia may include periods of extreme acting out and

uncontrollable behavior. (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual

IV, 2000) Many other psychological disorders may engage the person in further

antisocial tendencies, which may further allow them to meet the diagnostic criteria

for antisocial personality disorder.


   

Antisocial personality disorder is a psychological construct that affects the

behavior, responsiveness and belief system of those who are inflicted with it.

Typically, those with AsPD are aggressive, impulsive, reckless and irresponsible.
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They are also characterized by a lack of a fully developed conscience. Their

behaviors cause them to engage in criminal and antisocial tendencies, and will

experience a care-free attitude towards their actions. Antisocial personality

disorder comes in many forms. Less severe cases of AsPD are the result of

psychological disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. More severe

cases of AsPD result in the status of ³psychopath´ or ³sociopath.´ Those with AsPD

are ³natural born criminals.´ Their behavioral tendencies predispose them to

criminal activities, which are frequently impulsive in nature. Their aggression may

lead to assaults on others or the destruction of property. While antisocial

personality disorder itself isn¶t a dangerous disorder, if it is combined with other

psychological disorders (such as sadism and masochism), the result may cause

those inflicted with AsPD to become dangerous and lethal predators. The legal

system has devised methods of dealing with those with AsPD. Many treat them the

same as other offenders, while others recognize them as being ³morally insane´

and not fully culpable of their actions. Treatment is also a concern for those with

AsPD, because it is uncertain whether or not they are treatable. Some of those with

AsPD may become worse after treatment due to increased levels of manipulation

and cunningness. Antisocial personality disorder is a problem that manifests itself

in neurological functioning problems. These individuals experience varying levels of

neurotransmitters, which cause them to act out in aggressive manners. They also

have the tendency to feel under-aroused, which encourages them to engage in risky

and dangerous behavior.


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Antisocial personality disorder will continue to be studied. AsPD is the root

cause of many crimes, and needs to be studied properly to ensure that future

treatment options are available to those with the disorder. Once the medical field

understands how to treat those with AsPD, it may further extend its understanding

of treatment towards dangerous offenders and lethal predators. The answer to the

questions of treating these ³innate criminals´ may have the effect of improving

society as a whole by diminishing the high levels of criminal activities that are

caused by the small percentage of people with AsPD.



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Feeney, Adrian. Dangerous severe personality disorder. 2003. Dangerous
severAdvances in Psychiatric Treatment.
<http://apt.rcpsych.org/cgi/reprint/9/5/349?ck=nck>.
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Hare, Robert D.; Hart, Stephen D.; Harpur, Timothy J. Psychopathy and the DSM-IV
Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. August 1991. Journal of Abnormal
Psychology.
<http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/peterson/psy430s2001/Hare%20RD%20
Psychopathy%20JAP%201991.pdf>.


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