Conduct Disorder

Born To Hate

Conduct disorder is a mental illness of childhood or adolescence that presents with antisocial behavior, trouble following rules and the struggle to show empathy towards others. Untreated conduct disorder usually progresses to antisocial personality disorder. But antisocial personality disorder cannot be diagnosed without having conduct disorder as a child or adolescent.

The theory is that there is an impairment in the frontal lobe of the brain, the area responsible for reasoning. Children with conduct disorder fail to learn from negative experiences, resulting in the inability to properly adjust their behaviors. These are the children and teens who society labels as juveniles or delinquents.

Adolescents with conduct disorder may have a history of sexual or physical abuse, parental substance abuse, family violence and conflict or come from a poverty-stricken environment. Some may also have comorbidities such as other psychiatric disorders. All of these factors take an excessive toll on the young and developing mind of a child, resulting in hatred and anger towards oneself or others around them.

Common signs of conduct disorder include:

  • Stealing
  • Getting involved in physical fights
  • Truancy
  • Missing curfew on more than one occasion
  • Bullying and threatening others
  • Destruction of property (i.e.: arson, burglary)
  • Substance abuse
  • Harming animals and feeling no remorse
  • Rape
  • Using weapons to cause harm to others

When children with conduct disorder perform the above actions, they have no remorse, do not care about consequences that may arise, lack empathy for others and have no concern for education. They are literally miniature versions of adult criminals; think of Tony Soprano growing up.

There is no psychopharmacological treatment for conduct disorder, unless treating a cooccurring psychiatric disorder such as depression, ADHD, bipolar or anxiety disorder. Treatment usually involves family therapy, group therapy or psychotherapy. The goal is to help the child or adolescent develop insight into their destructive behaviors and prevent future ones from arising.

Once conduct disorder is diagnosed into antisocial personality disorder at age 18, it becomes significantly harder to treat the adult. Therefore, the goal is to successfully treat the young mind while it still has the chance to be positively influenced. Do not give up on children or adolescents with conduct disorder. There is always hope.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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