Welcome to Anime Rants, where we are learning the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder with anime characters as examples. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD) are the clinical equivalent of what people call sociopaths. The simplest definition is someone who feels no remorse or empathy. But for a real diagnoses, the criteria are much more detailed. I’ll present the official criteria and then look at characters who fit that trait. Let’s Rant!
Criteria (From DSM-5)
The following is taken from the DSM-5, which is the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s the book with detailed descriptions of disorders that psychiatrists use to diagnose patients. It’s fine to skip over this section if you don’t want to read all that or find it difficult to understand. When I start providing anime examples, you’ll see the simplified criteria. Citation is provided at the end of the post.
A. Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:
1) Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
a.Identity: Ego-centrism; self-esteem derived from personal gain, power, or pleasure.
b.Self-direction: Goal-setting based on personal gratification; absence of prosocial internal standards associated with failure to conform to lawful or culturally normative ethical behavior.
2) Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
a.Empathy: Lack of concern for feelings, needs, or suffering of others; lack of remorse after hurting or mistreating another.
b.Intimacy: Incapacity for mutually intimate relationships, as exploitation is a primary means of relating to others, including by deceit and coercion; use of dominance or intimidation to control others.
B. Pathological personality traits in the following domains:
1) Antagonism, characterized by:
a. Manipulativeness: Frequent use of subterfuge to influence or control others; use of seduction, charm, glibness, or ingratiation to achieve ones ends.
b.Deceitfulness: Dishonesty and fraudulence; misrepresentation of self; embellishment or fabrication when relating events.
c. Callousness: Lack of concern for feelings or problems of others; lack of guilt or remorse about the negative or harmful effects of ones actions on others; aggression; sadism.
d. Hostility: Persistent or frequent angry feelings; anger or irritability in response to minor slights and insults; mean, nasty, or vengeful behavior.
2) Disinhibition, characterized by:
a. Irresponsibility: Disregard for – and failure to honor – financial and other obligations or commitments; lack of respect for – and lack of follow through on – agreements and promises.
b. Impulsivity: Acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli; acting on a momentary basis without a plan or consideration of outcomes; difficulty establishing and following plans.
c.Risk taking: Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities, unnecessarily and without regard for consequences; boredom proneness and thoughtless initiation of activities to counter boredom; lack of concern for ones limitations and denial of the reality of personal danger.
Anime Character Examples
Note: Many of these characters meet multiple criteria from the DSM-5. For the most part, I would say, they are indeed sociopaths. However, I am picking one character per criterion because I can’r explore each and every character as a whole in this post. With each character, I’ll also explain the simplified criterion.
Self-Functioning: Egotistical Identity: Gilgamesh (Fate/Zero)
The first criterion is concerned with personality issues; in particular, problems with how one thinks of and views oneself. Personal identity becomes skewed, and the APD individual is often egotistical. Gilgamesh is the perfect example. He views himself as an innate ruler over others, who are innately inferior. When summoned to the modern world with magic, Gilgamesh arrogantly decides that humans have become too many and that it’s his job to cut their numbers using the deadly power of the Holy Grail.
Self-Functioning: Selfish Goals: Satou Matsuzaki (Happy Sugar Life)
Another issue with personality and identity, this criterion describes the sociopath’s tendency to work toward their own goals and plans without concern for the law or ethics. Satou shows this issue for most of the HSL anime. She keeps a small girl living with her and doesn’t try to report the lost child or return her to family. Satou has a twisted love for this girl, Shio. Everything she does is done to keep Shio with her. In the end, Satou will even kill people to protect her goal of living together with Shio.
Interpersonal: Lack of Empathy: Shougo Makishima (Psycho-Pass)
Besides skewed identity and selfish goals, the other personality issues in APD are about interactions with others. People with APD have a stark lack of empathy, the ability to recognize and feel for another’s suffering. This is associated with a lack of remorse, as well. Makishima from Psycho-Pass is an actively dangerous psychopath who shows this criterion. He can kill people in cold blood without feeling anything. Though he is interested in people and their psychology, he doesn’t actually care about them at all.
Interpersonal: Lack of Intimacy: Tanya Degurechaff (Youjo Senki)
In the APD criteria, intimacy mostly refers to the ability to have mutually beneficial relationships. People with APD have little or no capacity for this, since they are only concerned with how others can be used for their goals, entertainment, or pleasure. It was a bit tough finding a good character for this criterion, but Tanya is a decent example. She is entirely concerned with herself, and doesn’t get close to anyone. Everyone and everything is seen as a tool.
Pathological Traits: Antagonism
Manipulation: Johan Liebert (Monster)
Johan is my favorite anime villain and definitely a sociopath who meets most of the criteria in this post. I chose him for the trait of manipulation because he is frightenly good at it. On more than one occasion, Johan talks people into killing themselves. He encourages children to play a dangerous game that kills several. In addition, Johan uses his quiet charisma, good looks, and charm to win people over for his own purposes.
Deceitfulness: Light Yagami (Death Note)
Light Yagami is another great anime villain, and one of the most well-known. Like Johan, he meets a lot of the criteria listed here. He is a skilled liar, fooling the police task force for years about his true identity as the vigilante killer Kira. For a time, he even manages to fool the genius detective L. One of the best examples of Light’s deceitfulness is when he convinces Naomi Misora that he is on the task force fighting Kira. He builds up trust with his lies and she gives him her name. Light writes it in the Death Note.
Callousness: Ragyo Kiryuuin (Kill la Kill)
Callousness is the absence of concern for others and remorse regarding one’s actions. In Kill la Kill, Ragyo is only interested in her agenda of spreading Life Fibers across the world, at the expense of everyone else, including her own family. The greatest moment of her callousness is when she uses her own infants as Life Fiber experiments. When the youngest baby seemingly died as a result, Ragyo just threw it away without a care. She also treats her surviving daughter terribly, psychologically and sexually abusing her.
Hostility: Katsuki Bakugou (My Hero Academia)
To be clear, Bakugou is probably not a sociopath. But he exhibits at least one trait in the criteria for APD. This young man is highly antagonistic. He relentlessly bullied his childhood friend Midoriya, and as teenagers, he is still hostile in every way toward the innocent boy. In general, Bakugou is aggressive, overly senstive, and immature. He has serious anger issues.
Pathological Traits: Disinhibition
Irresponsibility: Yumeko Jabami (Kakegurui)
Here, Irresponsibility refers to someone who doesn’t care about obligations and limitations ushc as money. It also refers to someone who doesn’t keep promises or follow through on commitments. Yumeko has more of the first quality than the second. She is a gambler addicted to risk and thrill, careless of money and flippant about her alliances with others. This may not be the strongest example, but it’s the best I can come up with at present.
Impulsivity: Shion Sonozaki (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
One psychopath with impulse issues is Shion Sonozaki. Even before she went totally crazy, she impulsively attacked her classmate Satoko. And to start with, the way she ran away from the academy and came back to Hinamizawa was not a well thought out decision. After she loses her mind, Shion commits a series of murders. Some of them were premeditated to a degree, but all throughout the arc, this character tends to act on the spur of the moment. In the end, it’s her impulses and carelessness that kill her, too.
Risk-taking: Yuno Gasai (Mirai Nikki)
Throughout the bloody battle-royale survival game in Mirai Nikki, Yuno is a skilled fighter and killer. However, she certainly takes big risks with her vast confidence. She is constantly fighting on the front lines and at several points disregards her own life for the sake of her lover Yuki. This criterion is all about ignoring danger and engaging in dangerous activities. Yuno shows these traits clearly.
In summary, we have looked at the criteria for APD and used an anime character as an example of each one. Not all of these characters necessarily have APD, but they portray well a specific behavior associated with the disorder. I hope this has been educational and/or interesting. Thanks ever so much for reading. Until next time, Sayonara~
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Personality Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).