Lack of remorse in antisocial personality disorder: sociodemographic correlates, symptomatic presentation, and comorbidity with Axis I and Axis II disorders in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

Compr Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2006;47(4):289-97. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2005.11.002. Epub 2006 Apr 19.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare sociodemographic and family history correlates, symptomatic presentation, and comorbidity with Axis I and Axis II disorders, in an epidemiologic sample of adults with DSM-IV antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) who lacked, vs those who did not lack, remorse.

Methods: This study is based on a nationally representative sample of adults. Lifetime prevalences of each ASPD diagnostic criterion and each comorbid mood, anxiety, substance use, and personality disorder were estimated. Logistic regression was used to examine associations of lack of remorse with ASPD symptom patterns and comorbid disorders. Diagnoses were made using the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-DSM-IV Version.

Results: Among the 1422 respondents with ASPD, 728 (51%) lacked remorse. Respondents who lacked remorse were younger and more often reported a family history of drug problems than those who did not. More often than remorse-positive respondents, those who were remorse-negative met diagnostic criteria involving violence against persons and less often met criteria involving offenses against property. Remorse was not associated with cruelty to animals, nor with most nonviolent antisocial behaviors. Remorse-negative respondents endorsed more total lifetime violent behaviors than those who were remorse-positive. Lack of remorse was not associated with any lifetime comorbid Axis I or Axis II disorder. Patterns of findings were generally similar between men and women.

Conclusions: Lack of remorse appears to identify at best a modestly more symptomatically severe and violent form of ASPD in nonclinical populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / psychology