Soldiers and Antisocial Personality Disorder

Soldiers and Antisocial Personality Disorder

Since the 2005 discharge of Steven D. Green, who the Army discharged for a personality disorder, there has been much discussion about soldiers and mental health issues, how the military is assessing recruits and how the military is handling soldiers that return from engagement with a mental health issue.

While there are more questions than answers, there are some medical and mental health facts about antisocial personality disorder that can help people who are concerned about this issue.

Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, antisocial personality disorder is a type of chronic mental illness in which a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are abnormal and destructive. People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong. They may often violate the law and the rights of others. They may lie, behave violently and have drug and alcohol problems. People with antisocial personality disorder may not be able to fulfill responsibilities to family, work or school.

Additional symptoms of antisocial personality disorder that may make it difficult for the military to assess include using charm or wit to manipulate others or presenting intimidation and aggressiveness, which may be perceived as being assertive.

Antisocial Personality Disorder and Military Assessment

The military is struggling with designing an assessment for mental health issues of recruits. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria for antisocial personality disorder, the only two criteria that the military could prove include the following:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Repeatedly breaking the law

It would be difficult to provide or even validate the remaining criteria, including the following:

  • Having had symptoms of conduct disorder before age 15, which may include such acts as stealing, vandalism, violence, cruelty to animals and bullying
  • Repeatedly conning or lying to others
  • Being irritable and aggressive and repeatedly engaging in physical fights or assaults
  • Feeling no remorse — or justifying behavior — after harming others
  • Having no regard for the safety of oneself or others
  • Acting impulsively and not planning ahead

However, the public is still requesting that the military find a method to determine whether a recruit would be a successful soldier or may have a preexisting tendency toward a personality disorder, which may only get exacerbated through exposure to military activities.

Treatment for Antisocial Personality Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, antisocial personality disorder is difficult to treat because people with this disorder may not think they need treatment. However, people who are affected by this disorder are likely to need close, long-term care and follow-up because antisocial personality disorder is essentially a way of being, rather than a curable condition. Psychotherapy is the main way to treat antisocial personality disorder and may include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – This type of therapy helps to uncover unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy- This approach aims to raise awareness of unconscious thoughts and behaviors and change their negative impact.
  • Psychoeducation – This education-based therapy teaches about all aspects of a condition, including treatments, coping strategies and problem-solving skills.

These therapies can be delivered via individual counseling sessions, group sessions or a combination of both.

Get Help for Antisocial Personality Disorder

The first step for getting help is to get a diagnosis and then find the right treatment. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to offer advice and information about antisocial personality disorder and treatment options. Call our toll-free number now.