Antisocial personality disorder is highly unresponsive to any form of treatment, in part because persons with APD rarely seek treatment voluntarily. If they do seek help, it is usually in an attempt to find relief from depression or other forms of emotional distress. Although there are medications that are effective in treating some of the symptoms of the disorder, noncompliance with medication regimens or abuse of the drugs prevents the widespread use of these medications. The most successful treatment programs for APD are long-term structured residential settings in which the patient systematically earns privileges as he or she modifies behavior. In other words, if a person diagnosed with APD is placed in an environment in which they cannot victimize others, their behavior may improve. It is unlikely, however, that they would maintain good behavior if they left the disciplined environment.
If some form of individual psychotherapy is provided along with behavior modification techniques, the therapist's primary task is to establish a relationship with the patient, who has usually had very few healthy relationships in his or her life and is unable to trust others. The patient should be given the opportunity to establish positive relationships with as many people as possible and be encouraged to join self-help groups or prosocial reform organizations.
Unfortunately, these approaches are rarely if ever effective. Many persons with APD use therapy sessions to learn how to turn "the system" to their advantage. Their pervasive pattern of manipulation and deceit extends to all aspects of their life, including therapy. Generally, their behavior must be controlled in a setting where they know they have no chance of getting around the rules.
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