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Conduct Disorder

Taking a closer look at adolescent conduct disorder.

Roxanne Hunt

on 3 April 2011

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Transcript of Conduct Disorder

Conduct Disorder Conduct Disorder is diagnosed in adolescents who have behavioral problems for more than six months. The symptoms can stem from things such as low socioeconomic status, child abuse, or school failure. According to the website Helping Psychology, the DSM-IV breaks the behaviors up into three major categories:
Expressing agression towards people and animals; this can include both threatening or causing physical harm,
Destruction of property on a large scale, such as arson,
And decietfulness or theft. An adolescent with CD will often steal even though they don't desire the object that strongly (Brittany, 2010). Other Causes? In a study done by neuroscientists at the
University of Cambridge, MRIs were used to
scan the brains of 65 teenage boys with CD, and
27 boys who did not present symptoms. The MRIs
revealed that two parts of the brain that are important
in emotional perception, empathy, and recognizing when
people are in distress were smaller in the boys who had been
diagnosed with CD. These differences between the brain were
present no matter when the onset of CD occured. The hope is that
these noticable differences in the brain can help detect when a child
is at a high risk for behavioral problems, and catch them early ("Scans
Reveal,"2011). Image credit: Credit: G.Fairchild et al, 2011 In another recent study...
Done by Jean Decety at the University of Chicago, it was proposed that the brains of youth who have CD respond differently than normal adolescent brains when presented with empathy inducing stimuli. A little over two hundred participants were shown animated visual stimuli with both painful and non-painful situations. Then they were asked to estimate how painful these situations were and whether they believed that the pain was caused intentionally. The results of the study may show that there are parts of the brain inhibiting an empathetic response in children with behavioral disorders, though there is still research to be done in this area (Decety, Michalska, & Akitsuki, 2008). Statistics CD occurs for 6% to 16% of males and 2% to 9% of females.
Up to 75% of CD adolescents exhibit symptoms of depression.
Anxiety is more likely to be experienced by girls with disruptive behavior disorders than with boys.
CD often has comorbidity with ADHD.
Adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders are 6% to 10% more likely to engage in tobacco, alcohol, and drug use (Auciello, 2006). Forms of Treatment In conclusion... CD can manifest during adolescence for a number of reasons. It is characterized by a lack or refusal to follow rules and laws in a few different social areas. There are different types of therapy and treatment that can help an adolescent and their family cope with CD, and also studies taking place that may help us better understand the disorder and create new treatments for it in the future. References Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy CBT can be helpful for a variety of reasons.
It is a good way to introduce structure into the
adolescent's life through the sessions and start
building communication. Cognitive-Behavioral
Therapy is highly adaptive and can be changed to
fit a child's needs. CBT can also focus on teaching
the adolescent how to rationally self counsel
themselves so they have confidence and continue to
do well (Pucci, 2010). Due to the adolescent's mistrust or
fear of adults, treating CD can be challenging. There are several things that can be done to help the process, and it can require involvement from the family, the psychologist, and the school.
Medicating Although medication is not effective in treating CD, it can help with symptoms of other present disorders such as; ADHD, depression, anxiety, or PTSD ("Conduct," 2008). Peer Group Therapy Family Therapy Family therapy can can be very important when treating a child with CD, especially if thier home life is the root of the CD diagnosis. Creating structure and communication at home is a big step towards lessening the child's mistrust or hatred of adults. Peer group therapy can be effective in
expanding social and interpersonal skills,
though it may not be the ideal approach
for all CD children. It is similar to individual
therapy in that it also includes exploring feelings
and thoughts and how they apply to agressive
thoughts and behaviors ("Conduct," 2008). Failure to treat CD can
lead to school failure followed
by work failure at a later age, and
in extreme cases even lead to more
breaking of the law and inprisonment.
Recognizing and treating CD early is
very important in protecting the future of the adolescent, the family, and society. Auciello, D. (2006). Disruptive behavior disorders in children and adolescents. Child Study Center, 10(3). Retrieved

April 3, 2011, from http://www.aboutourkids.org/files/articles/mar_apr2006.pdf

Brittany. (2010, April 19). Conduct disorder. Helping Psychology. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from http://helping


Conduct disorder. (2008, February 3). Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from http://www.


Decety, J., Michalska, K., & Akitsuki, Y. (2008). Who caused the pain? An fMRI investigation of empathy and

intentionality in children. Neuropsychologia, 46, 2607–2614. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from


Pucci, A. (n.d.). Why cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)? Advantages and research support. The National

Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists Online Headquarters. Retrieved April 3, 2011, from


Scans reveal differences in brain structure in teenagers with conduct disorder. (2011, April 1). University of Cambridge.

Retrieved April 3, 2011, from http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2011040101
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