Disruptive, Impulse control & Conduct disorders¹ involve behaviour that violates major social norms and the rights of others, by lacking self-control over emotions and behaviours. It is characterised by
- callous and/or unemotional contact with people,
- cruel and or unlawful behaviour.
Kleptomania and pyromania fall under these disorders.²
The behaviours of people who have these disorders are more extreme than typical behaviours.²
- are frequent
- are long-lasting
- occur across different situations
- cause significant problems
What are the characteristics of each disorder?
1. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD):
Main symptoms: Angry irritable mood / Argumentative defiant behaviour / Vindictiveness
Signs of the disorder often develop as early as the preschool years. Children are chronically angry and irritable, argumentative, defiant and refuse to comply with adults requests. They are vindictive or spiteful towards others. They blame others for their own mistakes and bad behaviour. Treatment (psycho-therapy, family therapy) can help for this disorder, but it can’t be cured. It is a chronic or lifelong disorder.
2. Conduct Disorder
Main symptoms: Aggression toward people & animals /Destruction of Property / Deceitfulness or Theft /Serious violation of rules
The disorder is more serious than ODD. Children act in anti-social ways, being repeatedly aggressive and cruel to people and animals, vandalizing and stealing the property of others, lying, and violating school and family rules. Conduct disorder is only diagnosed in children and youth up to 18 years of age.
Two other conduct disorders:
3. Intermittent Explosive Disorder
The disorder is characterised by repeated outbursts of verbal or physical aggression toward others that is far out of proportion to any provocation. An individual who displays frequent random acts of aggression. Intermittent explosive disorder is not diagnosed in children under age 6. You can be diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder from the age of 6. The onset is often in late childhood or adolescence, and rarely onsets after the age of 40.
4. Anti-social Personality Disorder
People with Anti-social Personality Disorder have a chronic pattern of disregard for the basic rights of other people and it can occur from the age of 15 years. They are selfish, manipulative, deceitful and cruel. They can get aggressive towards people to get what they want.
5. Kleptomania & Pyromania
Both concern the problems with controlling for specific behaviours – for example, the impulse to start a fire or to steal. The behaviour they engage in helps to release inner tension. Kleptomania often starts during the teenage and is 3x more common in women than men. ²
What causes Conduct Disorders?
Biological factors (genetics & neurobiological), Social factors (poverty, violent neighbourhoods) and Psychological factors ( hostile aggressive parenting, abuse, hostile views of others and the world) contribute to Conduct disorders.
Anti-social parents pass the gene on to their children. They ”parent” in ways that promote uncontrolled, aggressive rule-breaking behaviour. As a family, they could be on a downward social path – struggling to keep good jobs. It leads to poverty where children have to grow up in violent, unhealthy surroundings, perhaps exposed to toxins that inhibit normal brain development.
Children, in turn, tend to be difficult and irritable – they draw hostility from their parents, peers and teachers. The negative feedback they receive from others feeds their hostility – and they grow up believing the world is against them. They often join deviant groups like gangs, where members reinforce their bad behaviour. Criminal behaviour, doing badly in school and an inability to get along with others causes them to live in poverty as adults. When they have children, the cycle begins again.
Treatment involves therapy with the person and the family. Medication is generally not used to treat conduct disorders – but can be used for Intermittent explosive disorder.
¹Susan Nolen-Hoeksema. Abnormal Psychology. 6th Edition. 2014. McGraw – Hill Education.