Can the Joker Be a Psychopath and Have Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM, fourth edition). The DSM includes 10 different personality disorders, each of which involves a different set of maladapative behavior patterns. The criteria for antisocial personality disorder require a pattern of at least three types of criminal behaviors (e.g., repeatedly breaking the law, even in small ways, such as disturbing the peace) or somewhat related behaviors, such as being impulsive, irresponsible, aggressive, or lying. To see the complete set of diagnostic criteria, click here. Note that when I said that the Joker had antisocial personality disorder in my 300-word review (!) I was was addressing criteria A1-A7 but not criteria B-D, as Jared’s comment, below, rightly points out (thanks, Jared!).

People can engage in these behaviors for any number of reasons: hanging out with the “wrong crowd”; going through a period of being angry at “society” and not caring about the future; being temperamentally driven to seek out stimulating activities, some of which are illegal; or finding the suffering of others to be amusing. The diagnostic criteria are limited to the behaviors themselves, not the underlying reasons for the behaviors.

In studies, about 50-80% of American male prisoners meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder. (I’m limiting this discussion to males because males are three times more likely to have this disorder and there is much more research on them than females with the disorder.)



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