Introvert. Homebody. Loner. Antisocial. All of these terms are used to describe a diverse group of people who prefer the comforts of home over the rush of being out and about. But are they really all the same thing? As someone who identifies (deeply) as an introvert, I've been called all of these things by myself and others, but just because I enjoy my own company over a large group, am I really antisocial? Knowing the signs you're actually antisocial and not just a homebody can be useful, because it's a first step in seeking treatment to address any symptoms that might be making you unhappy.
As if history hasn't taught the dangers of lumping people into categories, the research should prove that just because someone has an introverted personality doesn't automatically mean they're antisocial. It turns out that the ramifications of being truly antisocial are a bit more serious than a simple personality trait. There is an actual personality disorder that causes people to be truly antisocial, and it is associated with more extreme behavior than that of your average homebody.
According to Merriam-Webster, an antisocial person is someone who is "adverse to the society of others," or when taken to the extreme, being "hostile ... to organized society." According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one percent of the U.S. population suffers from antisocial personality disorder(ASPD). As harsh as the definition may be, once you learn more about what it means to have antisocial personality disorder, the differences become very clear. But, according to the Mayo Clinic, there absolutely is treatment for antisocial personality disorder. And, interestingly, as Psych Central noted, "Like most personality disorders, antisocial personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the disorder’s symptoms by the time they are in their 40s or 50s." Here are some of the signs:
1. You Prefer Non-Traditional Methods Of Socializing
Of course, most introverts prefer non-traditional forms of socializing as well. For example, they prefer small gatherings over large parties. But for those with antisocial personality disorder, its' taken to an extreme. The Mayo Clinic describes the disorder as lacking all interest in others, to the extent that people with ASPD may prefer to have no friends at all. They may spend the majority of their time alone, online, or have a history of poor or abusive relationships.
2. You Lack Empathy
Along with a disregard for typical relationships, those with ASPD lack empathy towards others, and according to the Mayo Clinic, may feel little to no remorse about harming others. According to Psych Central, truly antisocial people "tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others."
3. You May Feel The Law Doesn't Apply To You
Perhaps an even more dangerous tendency of those with ASPD is the thought that they're above the law. One study published by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health noted that many criminals dating back hundreds of years likely had the disorder. People with ASPD are truly anti-society and feel like the laws that the majority of people follow without question don't apply to them.
4. You May Have Aggressive Tendencies
According to Psychology Today, aggression is typically divided into two categories: reactive and proactive. Proactive aggression denotes non-provoked, seemingly senseless violence, while reactive aggression refers to provoked violence out of frustration. A 2013 study found that those with ASPD typically demonstrate reactive aggression.
5. You Lack Impulse Control
Perhaps the most dangerous trait of those with ASPD is the lack of impulse control according to the Mayo Clinic. This means that, when combined with the aforementioned reactive aggression tendencies, ASPD can lead to dangerous, very clearly anti-social behavior.
For information and advice about seeking out psychological help, visit the American Psychological Association (APA) Help Center.