November 1985

Sociopathy and Psychotherapy Outcome

Author Affiliations

From the Drug Dependence Treatment Unit, Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(11):1081-1086. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790340059009

• One hundred ten nonpsychotic opiate addicts were randomly assigned to receive paraprofessional drug counseling alone or counseling plus professional psychotherapy. The outcomes of patients who received psychotherapy were examined in terms of their DSM-III diagnoses. Four groups were compared: those with opiate dependence alone (N=16); opiate dependence plus depression (N=16); opiate dependence plus depression plus antisocial personality disorder (N=17); and opiate dependence plus antisocial personality disorder (N=13). Those with opiate dependence plus antisocial personality disorder alone improved only on ratings of drug use. Patients with opiate dependence alone or with opiate dependence plus depression improved significantly and in many areas. Opiate-dependent patients with antisocial personality plus depression responded almost as well as those with only depression. Antisocial personality disorder alone is a negative predictor of psychotherapy outcome, but the presence of depression appears to be a condition that allows the patient to be amenable to psychotherapy, even though the behavioral manifestations of sociopathy are present.