Oppositional Defiant Disorder

by Rachel Bhan


The DSM –IV ( Diagnostic Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders) criteria for oppositional defiant disorder, describes as s an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile, and defiant behavior toward authority figures that goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior.

Oppositional defiant disorder is generally seen in children. Behavior pattern focuses toward extreme arrogance. Children with this disorder throw temper tantrums, often refuses to follow the rules, easily get annoyed, argue with people and blame others for their own mistakes. They usually get angry if confronted and therefore tend to argue with adults to justify oneself.

The DSM criteria of oppositional defiant disorder , too, follow the following symptoms. They are:

  1. Losing temper
  2. Arguing with adults
  3. Refusing to follow the rules
  4. Deliberately annoying people
  5. Blaming others for own mistakes
  6. Easily annoyed
  7. Angry and resentful
  8. Spiteful or even revengeful

If the child meets at least four of these criteria, and they are interfering with the child’s ability to function, then he or she technically meets the definition of Oppositionally defiant.

The onset of this disorder should prevail for six months and should interfere with the child’s behavior. The behavior is more prevalent among boys as compared to girls and usually begins by age 8. The disorder affects the child’s day- to- day activities and also hampers the personality of the child. It is normally seen in school going children. Due to their defiant behavior pattern, these children cannot make friendships and generally tend to get complaints from school. Because of their angry and argumentive behavior they are unliked by the society.

The cause of this disorder is unknown. It is observed that the cause could be due to biological ,Psychosocial or due to faulty parenting style. Very few research is done on biological cause. Faulty parenting is the core characteristic of this disorder. Parental and interpersonal issues may result into angry , disobediency and asocial behavior.

Treatment is advisable only after the child fulfills the DSM criteria for oppositional defiant disorder. Individual Psychotherapy for children and Interpersonal psychotherapy for parents help in coping with the problem. Techniques such as behavior therapy help this children in prosocial behavior. Parents are taught parenting skills to develop interpersonal communication with the child. The disorder affects the child’s academic progress and social relationships. Also because of their defiant behavior they generally tend to show other related problems such as Attention deficit, conduct disorder and even learning disorder in few individuals. Medication too help the child in reliving their attention and hyperactivity.

Most important therapy for these children and adults is to develop a conducive environment.


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