Mislabeling: The Antisocial and the Asocial.
Stop calling me Antisocial…
One day many years ago I was sitting at the table during a family party. I happily listened to my Ipod while wearing my earphones when I got a tap on the shoulder. I removed my earphones and someone told me, “don’t be so antisocial; you should be talking to your family instead of listening to music.” I of course proceeded to correct him because at this time I was finishing up my bachelors degree and knew better than to let him believe I was antisocial. I told him; “well maybe you might be actually trying to say I am asocial, but I know I am not antisocial.” He looked at me with confusion and I proceeded to explain the difference.
What is the point of my story? Over the years I have began to notice a trend with mislabeling these two terms; Asocial, and Antisocial. Commercials target audiences by saying things like “get your children outside so that they are not so antisocial,” or “Is technology making your kids antisocial.” I have always found it odd that in the era of education and online learning these two terms are still used incorrectly. I hear parents tell me “I think my child is antisocial.” Let me try to explain the differences.
What do these two terms mean? They sound the same; but they describe two completely different people. The following definitions are not complex explanations. They are very simple ways of understanding the differences between both terms. There is extensive research on the behavioral patterns of anti-socials, but I often think there is lack of research or use for terms like Asocial.
Asocial: “without or absence from society”
Someone who may be described as being asocial may simply have no interest in being part or taking part in the social aspects of daily life. They may also be described as someone who may show the following:
- Being distant or to themselves.
- Choose to avoid social situations like: parties, gatherings, conversations with people
- They have a disinterest or often disconnect from social situations.
- They can sometimes be described as: shy, introverted, or even rude in certain situations.
- They find social settings unappealing and may prefer to be in isolation
- Some asocial personalities may even feel anxiety when they are in social situations and may even withdraw themselves completely from society.
*note: some activities such as; someone who chooses to listen to music or play video games instead of engaging with others is not necessarily asocial. At times some people may just prefer to be alone rather than be in social company. The above describes a person who acts in this manner the majority of the time which then may result in isolation from society. Some individuals who may qualify for this description may also have other diagnosis like autism, or agoraphopia.
The Antisocial: “Against society”
The antisocial personalities are those which we may most likely see causing harm to others. The prefix “anti” suggests that the person is against society. Someone who is antisocial may exhibit some of the following:
- The need or desire to harm others without concern for repercussions. (Vandalism, assault, violation of laws etc.)
- Lack of sympathy or remorse for their actions.
- They are unwilling to conform to social norms or are unable to conform to social expectations of “normal” or “healthy” behaviors.
- Some anti-socials may also abuse drugs which may illicit feelings of violence and harm to others.
- Some antisocial behavior can be seen in early adolescent and may be related to conduct disorders.
- They may manipulate others in order to achieve what they desire, often at the expense of others.
*Some antisocial individuals may also be described as being sociopaths or psychopaths due to their disregard for others and their violation of laws and social norms.
Importance of knowing the difference?:
Knowing the difference between these two terms is important because it allows us to differentiate between two people who may seem similar, but have completely different motives or behavioral patterns. It is also important to recognize unhealthy patterns of behaviors in our children and peers because some of these behaviors may warrant closer attention or potential professional help.
As always, thank you for reading my post and I welcome any suggestions and comments. Please subscribe to follow my blog if my content interests you. And next time you call yourself and antisocial because you decided to stay in and have some time away from society remember… you are more likely not antisocial 🙂
Here are some references for further reading:
Hesse, M. (2010). What should be done with antisocial personality disorder in the new edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V)?. BMC Medicine, 866-69. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-66
Loeber, R., Burke, J. D., & Lahey, B. B. (2002). What are adolescent antecedents to antisocial personality disorder?. Criminal Behaviour & Mental Health, 12(1), 24.
Loeber, R., & Burke, J. D. (2011). Developmental Pathways in Juvenile Externalizing and Internalizing Problems.Journal Of Research On Adolescence (Wiley-Blackwell), 21(1), 34-46. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00713.x