Volume 29, Issue 2 (April 1984)
Antisocial Personality—Diagnosis or Moral Judgment?
Antisocial personality is a problem-filled diagnosis. Even when diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) II manual, it was replete with value laden terminology. DSM III makes repeated criminal behavior central and includes a list of other behaviors that do not always truly imply an antisocial personality. In order to test the possibility that factors other than those listed in the manual may often influence the diagnosis, the prevalence of required characteristics in patients diagnosed antisocial personality was compared with the prevalence of required characteristics in another personality disorder, schizoid personality. The study involved a hospitalized Veteran's Administration (VA) population, employing DSM II criteria, which was used by the VA at that time. The difference was statistically highly significant. Examination of the case histories suggests that dislike of the patients or negative moral judgments about their actions frequently were involved in making a diagnosis of antisocial personality. It is therefore crucial that moral judgments not be disguised as scientific ones, and the meaning of an antisocial personality diagnosis as utilized by clinicians needs to be seriously questioned.