If antisocial personality disorder is a mystery, it is a mystery we are somewhat ambivalent towards. People suffering from this condition does not seem to be negatively affected by their mal-adaptive behaviour, nor the negative consequences they might have on other people such as family members and co-workers. They do not even necessarily seek out help, since they do not care about the negative external outcome of their behaviour (ibid). Why spend time with psychotherapy if you do not feel that your sickness is bothersome?
It is possible, at least in theory, that fear and repulsiveness hinders us to better understand the cause of antisocial personality disorder. Sickness is normally apprised as something in which the person itself cannot help it. Whom chooses to be sick, if they could be healthy? Would a person suffering from extreme anxiety choose to be in this sickly state? Probably not, given how it affects that person’s life, with all the stress and reduced life-satisfaction that might follow. We feel sorry for those with extreme anxiety. We feel sorry and want to help. In contrast, with antisocial personality disorder, the tendency is more of a dehumanisation and segregation where people consider them as different. In literature, we are taught not to call anyone e.g. “Epileptic”, but rather “people with epilepsy”. This rule, however, seems to disappear when we describe individuals suffering from antisocial personality disorder and people with similar personality traits. It is e.g. widely accepted in scientific literature to label these cluster of individuals as “psychopaths”, rather than “people suffering from psychopathy” – thus denying their individualities. We seem to regard “them” as some kind of predators that “eats” their own kind – interspecies predators (e.g. Hare, 1966). It has also been suggested that people with this disorder possibly have some special “evolutionary adaptations” (Mealey, 1995).
One might think of ASPD as adaptive in certain aspects. Like mentioned in relation to psychopathy in the introduction: Some of these might experience “external success”; they are charming, lives in nice houses and have well payed jobs. Another potential adaptive function could be that that they feel less emotional pain, and thus protecting their psychologically well-being from different typical traumatizing or stressful external events that would normally cause distress. However, given the list of criteria that should be met in order to diagnose this disorder, one might argue that the net-sum for people with this disorder is negative.
Even more, we label children who might show signs of psychopathic traits as “budding psychopaths” (Lynam, 1966), due to the correlation between ASPD and earlier onset of Conduct Disorder (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed., page. 659). Usually, the examples above are corrected in peer reviews before published in accordance to e.g. APA- standards, but not so much in books, chapters or in popular science meant to teach the reader about this disorder.