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Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a Crock

So I was watching Criminal Minds, pretty sweet show, and there was an off hand reference to Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and I noted it mentally as an error as I do with TV shows and media if I am aware of them, and as I am in the habit of checking up on the things I believe, I Wikied this ‘ODD’ expecting to find an elaboration on its false roots, when to my shock and amazement, I discovered that it’s real.

From the Wiki..,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppositional_defiant_disorder

Diagnostic Criteria

1. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

Note: Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.
1. often loses temper
2. often argues with adults
3. often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
4. often deliberately annoys people
5. often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
6. is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
7. is often angry and resentful
8. is often spiteful or vindictive

2. The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

3. The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a Psychotic or Mood disorder.

4. Criteria are not met for Conduct Disorder, and, if the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for Antisocial personality disorder.

So there is a mental illness, ironically called odd, that makes you defiant.

Let me just sum up how I feel about that real quick and then I’ll go into how I came to this conclusion.

This is absolutely odious. As in, worthy of hate and disgust. I have trouble articulating the seething rage I feel at the very idea of this “condition” existing.

Never has it been so clear that the psychological community is being turned to unethical purpose by those who wish above all else to remain in power.

First lets look at the definitions.

The first question one would have is “How is this a disease again?” I mean if opposing things, and defying things, makes one crazy… well then I’m pretty sure we all are.

Their solution?

Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.

So, if they are defiant to a normal degree, then it isn’t ODD. Heh.

This is my first problem. The word normal means acceptable. Acceptable defiance is a contradiction in terms. If the behavior is accepted then it is not defiant. The whole point of defiance is doing the unacceptable.

They must be talking about false defiance, like the cliché goth kid image, hanging up Manson posters but still showing up to choir practice. Buying a pair of pants covered in safety pins from hot topic with your allowance, is not defiance, yet for the purposes of this diagnostic, it would be considered “normal” defiance. The type of behavior that is normally called a “phase.”

Since this type of thing strongly reminds of pseudoscience used to halt social evolution, I’m going to shape my analogy based on race. In honor of all those dimwit doctors who tried to tell us that blacks were measurably and objectively inferior.

I’m going to show how a typical black child growing up under civil oppression would have squarely qualified for this disorder.

Let’s begin.

I’m going to write in defense, and from the perspective of, this child. His name is Malcolm, for obvious reasons.

1. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

Yes I have a negative attitude, I’m tired of being told by word and deed that I am somehow a lesser organism by virtue of my birth. Yes I’m hostile, hostility towards oppression is not only natural but a hallowed aspect of our national identity. The English didn’t leave politely. Yes I’m defiant, I feel it is my ethical duty to reject social constraints that are clearly oppressive. These behaviors and attitudes will persist so long as the situation calls for them.

Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.

Well the other kids have meekly accepted their secondary roles having folded under various forms of oppressive mechanisms ranging from shaming and despair to physical assault. But for some reason, I was born a fighter, and the fear of punishment and pain will not dissuade me.

1. often loses temper

I’m a child, not a sociologist or a psychologist or an economist, or an historian. I don’t have the context or the raw data needed to understand why I’m being treated like an animal. The historical and racial dynamics escape me for the time being, and when faced with the absurd and exploitive bigotry around me I as a result of my inability to understand am often frustrated past the point of quiet endurance.

I routinely end up yelling at bus drivers and police and store clerks and managers and anyone else in a position to enforce these bogus social restrictions, and who profit from the same.

2. often argues with adults

Well of course I argue with them, they say absurd and insulting things. They then use their position in lieu of evidence or debate, telling me to be quiet and sit down or this is not the time or place, and when I explain that this is unacceptable as a rebuttal, I am sanctioned.

3. often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules

The water fountain I am expected to use is neglected, and were it in perfect working order I would still refuse to use it on principal. Nor do I feel like walking all the way to the back of the bus when there are so many empty seats readily available near the front. I will not obey a rule that is pointlessly inefficient or unethical.

4. often deliberately annoys people

I won’t deny a certain amount of satisfaction in bringing some of the frustration I feel to those around me. I do not consider this any more pathological than a police officer taking pleasure in arresting a child abuser, and as a result preferring to work on cases where child abuse is at issue.

Seeking to annoy can be quite natural.

Sometimes annoying an enemy even provides a tactical advantage. By forcing them to show their true nature. An excellent example of this is sit-ins, work stoppages, and other forms of non violent protest.

5. often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

Considering that my ‘mistakes’ and ‘misbehaviors’ include actions explained above, and as I said before I will continue these behaviors so long as the situations that call for them persist, I cannot help but blame others for creating or bolstering those situations and conditions.

For example, if I consistently am placed in detention by the principal for breaking his water fountain segregation rules, am I truly to blame?

6. is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

Slurs and racist implications have a profound effect on me, and it is very easy to work a slur into a sentence. Since the society around me takes it as a given that I should be content with my lot, I often appear touchy or easily offended. Why don’t I just go sit at the back of the bus? Because I shouldn’t have to.

7. is often angry and resentful

I do resent being treated like a second class citizen for no good reason, I am angry about that treatment and I think rightfully so.

8. is often spiteful or vindictive

Sometimes examples must be made. Sometimes a single person can typify a given behavior or position. Sometimes the unethical behavior pushes a person past the limits of equitable response, but in the end how does one determine what is equitable?

2. The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

My refusal to accept my socially imposed niche has gotten me suspended from school time and again and I expect it to interfere with employment or socializing being that all three demand acceptance of rules which I feel are unjust.

3. The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a Psychotic or Mood disorder.

I don’t have fits, and while I may have good days and bad days, I’m upset about racism all day, because racism exists, all day.

4. Criteria are not met for Conduct Disorder, and, if the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for Antisocial personality disorder.

No, I have a conscience. I don’t throw kittens into rivers or the like. In fact if they would just treat me like an equal citizen I’m sure I would be quite successful and well liked.

End of analogy.

You see my point?

This Bullshit “condition” can be used to drug or incarcerate budding civil rights leaders, and that’s its primary purpose. To weed out the free thinkers, ASAP.

Going against society is not a mental condition when society is wrong. And society never admits to being wrong until after it has been corrected.

I grow VERY weary of the ageist assumption that children are ALWAYS wrong. Or that they must wait until later to speak up, or demand rights.

Respect does not mean obedience.

Adults often ask unethical or outright stupid things of children.

This analogy can be extended to virtually any instance of a child responding quite naturally to an absurd setting. Imagine an atheist child in a religious home and private school, or vice versa. Debate and rebellion are required for a society to avoid death by stagnation.

Imagine how you would react if you were told that you needed to keep silent and do as you are told until you are ten years older. Imagine if the only reasoning given for this boiled down to or was explicitly, “because I’m ten years older.”

Imagine how the world would look if every 30 year old was required to obey every 50 year old on pain of medication and incarceration.

Society as a whole and our country in particular has evolved by leaps and bounds because of the rebelliousness of our children. Rebellion is the very soul of our country and to put a ceiling on it and to try and drug it or “cure” it is simply reprehensible.

Treating our children like property, pets, employees, and now psychotics, shames us all.

In short, maybe it’s not a disease, maybe the kid just has a point.

Reputable ethical psychologists would do well to voice their opinion on this subject, as should sociologists.

“The first principal of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating.”

Cesar Chavez

Updated: May 4, 2010 — 9:48 am

8 Comments

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  1. I completely disagree with this. First, the condition is specifically assigned to children, not adults. This pretty much eliminates most of the other arguments. Second, yes, a certain amount of defiance is acceptable in children. They’re suppose to push their boundaries, to find out just how far they can go.That’s how they learn to behave in an “acceptable” manner so they can function in society as adults. Third, the description of how a “black child growing up under civil oppression” would meet the criteria is completely bogus due to the situation. As you state, defiance against oppression is natural, therefore the diagnosis doesn’t apply. True, it could’ve been used by the oppressors to further oppress the individual, but that would’ve been a complete misuse of the diagnosis. You further made the statement “going against society is not a mental illness when society is wrong”. That’s absolutely true – which is why that situation negates the diagnosis.

    (Your father put me up to this. 🙂 )

  2. I completely disagree with this. First, the condition is specifically assigned to children, not adults. This pretty much eliminates most of the other arguments. Second, yes, a certain amount of defiance is acceptable in children. They’re suppose to push their boundaries, to find out just how far they can go.That’s how they learn to behave in an “acceptable” manner so they can function in society as adults. Third, the description of how a “black child growing up under civil oppression” would meet the criteria is completely bogus due to the situation. As you state, defiance against oppression is natural, therefore the diagnosis doesn’t apply. True, it could’ve been used by the oppressors to further oppress the individual, but that would’ve been a complete misuse of the diagnosis. You further made the statement “going against society is not a mental illness when society is wrong”. That’s absolutely true – which is why that situation negates the diagnosis.

    (Your father put me up to this. 🙂 )

  3. Well hey there Helga. Good to hear from you, I appreciate you taking the time. It’ll be nice to debate someone I know for a fact is intelligent, and at least marginally sane. 🙂

    I completely disagree with this.

    As is your right. In your position I can see why you would. You have an extremely vested interest in the status quo, and you don’t strike me as the socially innovative type. This is not an insult. It’s just as much a fact as me being combative. 🙂

    I am quick to add, all of that is beside the point. You are not your claims. I will try to address them alone as much as I can. The messenger and his motives are irrelevant.

    First, the condition is specifically assigned to children, not adults. This pretty much eliminates most of the other arguments.

    That makes a few radical and sweeping generalizations about children. Put simply your statement only holds if you view children to be mindless little drones in need of programming who are incapable of independent thought and have no place sculpting society.

    The American dream clearly includes children as background, and if you assume that as a parent you have the right to own a human being and tailor it to your specifications then sure, this disorder and your assertions hold, and I would therefor recommend that you drug unacceptable behavior into oblivion with all possible speed.

    However, if you see a child as a citizen, and a human, to be judged individually on its own merits, and the strength of its assertions, then you must therefor accept the absurdity of the claim that children are fundamentally undeserving of the right to oppose, and or fundamentally incapable of the social vision needed to detect and speak out against systemic social dysfunction.

    Consider that any abused child who is aware of being abused and who is also home schooled would by definition have this ‘condition.’You should consider the conflict between the rights of parents and the rights of the state. In effect the state owns your children, if you don’t raise them as it sees fit they will take them from you by force and raise them themselves.

    No, the attitude that they are “just kids” is ageist and simplistic. There are 10 year olds with AK47s out there, and there have been child monarchs all throughout history. Children are as varied as humanity itself because imagine that, they are human beings. Some of them can compose symphonies by age 10. Conversely some adults have the minds of children for their whole existence.

    To place an age limit on adulthood is a social expediency, nothing more.

    The attitude that the 18th birthday somehow magically confers wisdom, is silly on it’s face. You may hedge and make excuses about possibility and maturity levels and scaling and majority, but the fact of the matter is all of that is an excuse for our inability or unwillingness to take each child as a case by case basis.

    What it means to be an “adult” is a frightfully complicated question. The smooth functioning of our society demands a trade off, but to ignore the fact that a trade off exists is perilous for our future to say the least.

    Further, the immaturity of children is often a direct result of the isolation, censorship, and general thought control we apply to them ironically on the grounds that they are children and can’t handle the truth by virtue of the immaturity we created.

    This is as ethically bankrupt as the claim that slaves prospered under slavery because we provided them everything, when we were the ones that created the problems we solved. Creating problems to sell the solution has always been and remains to this day a ubiquitous tool of control.

    There is a difference between legal rights and ethical ones. Just because you are allowed to do something, doesn’t mean you should.

    Second, yes, a certain amount of defiance is acceptable in children. They’re suppose to push their boundaries, to find out just how far they can go.That’s how they learn to behave in an “acceptable” manner so they can function in society as adults.

    As I said, defiance by definition is not acceptable. Defiance by definition is the movement beyond this “boundary” you speak of. That’s beyond the fact that this boundary is completely subjective and boils down to the whim of the state, since as explained above, you get to keep your children only so long as your treatment of them pleases your masters.

    Further, you speak as if learning to behave in an “acceptable” manner is imperative. How different our society would look if for example all women had agreed with you. I’m pretty sure white male land owners would still be the only voting block.

    You seem to deify society, as if functioning within it is the sole purpose of an individual. Well, I’m not an ant and while it is indeed true that we need society to manage our centralized systems, at the moment, it has always existed to serve us, not the other way around.

    As it says at the bottom of all my emails.

    “Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic.” – Hugh Douglas

    Third, the description of how a “black child growing up under civil oppression” would meet the criteria is completely bogus due to the situation. As you state, defiance against oppression is natural, therefore the diagnosis doesn’t apply.

    It only fails to apply because those with the condition eventually won and made their behavior classifiable as accepted and natural. As with the fundamental truth that there is a first time for everything, in every social movement there will be ODD (heh) men (or women or children) out.

    You of all people should know that genius is by definition in the minority and that minority is not an acceptable indicator of psychopathy.

    True, it could’ve been used by the oppressors to further oppress the individual, but that would’ve been a complete misuse of the diagnosis.

    How would that misuse have been detected until after the fact? You seem to assume there is some sort of objective social reference by which all action can be judged. This is not the case. The structure of society is in effect a collective delusion, a form of tribalism used for survival, nothing more. In some societies it is completely acceptable to beat your wife to death with a rock if she has the audacity to get raped and before you think yourself a member of en enlightened culture, realize that we consign some young men to daily rape for daring to sell a couple pounds of plant derivative. Then we make drop the soap jokes about it.

    Your view is radically ethnocentric, it speaks of a very polar cultural attitude, our way and the highway so to speak. The point is, we have to agree on what is right and wrong in order to build a society and the only way society can change over time is the acceptance of deviation.

    Indeed the very purposes of sexual reproduction is to create that required deviation. It’s written into our genes in order to avoid the weaknesses of an unchanging system. The ultimate expression of your assertion that children must be turned into “acceptable” adults leads to a level of homogenization that is frankly disturbing to contemplate.

    “You’ve not made ever everybody equal, you’ve made them the same, and there’s a big difference!” – Harrison Bergeron (the film)

    By the time a child is 18 and sufficiently domesticated to avoid a diagnosis of ODD it is probably already too late and that is precisely the aim. To control a child utterly during its formative years is to control an adult. No society deserves that much power because it will lead to a human ant colony that can be wiped out by a single ant specific event.

    Like a sticker I once had said. “The survival of any species over time requires a reserve of mutants capable of exploiting or resisting opportunity. Support mutation.”

    You further made the statement “going against society is not a mental illness when society is wrong”. That’s absolutely true – which is why that situation negates the diagnosis.

    Again, how would you know that society is wrong until it’s been changed and we all agree it was wrong? Even Lincoln was a racist, it was just a facet of his society.

    You demand a paradox. A society is how it defines things. Society needs people to tell it when it is wrong, so that it can become right.

    Your father put me up to this. 🙂

    I’m glad he did. Intelligent debate forces me to demonstrate my logic. Ideally both parties learn something. Ironically, this is something that would not have been possible had my parents felt the need to drug me into homogeneity.

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” –
    John F. Kennedy

  4. Well hey there Helga. Good to hear from you, I appreciate you taking the time. It’ll be nice to debate someone I know for a fact is intelligent, and at least marginally sane. 🙂

    I completely disagree with this.

    As is your right. In your position I can see why you would. You have an extremely vested interest in the status quo, and you don’t strike me as the socially innovative type. This is not an insult. It’s just as much a fact as me being combative. 🙂

    I am quick to add, all of that is beside the point. You are not your claims. I will try to address them alone as much as I can. The messenger and his motives are irrelevant.

    First, the condition is specifically assigned to children, not adults. This pretty much eliminates most of the other arguments.

    That makes a few radical and sweeping generalizations about children. Put simply your statement only holds if you view children to be mindless little drones in need of programming who are incapable of independent thought and have no place sculpting society.

    The American dream clearly includes children as background, and if you assume that as a parent you have the right to own a human being and tailor it to your specifications then sure, this disorder and your assertions hold, and I would therefor recommend that you drug unacceptable behavior into oblivion with all possible speed.

    However, if you see a child as a citizen, and a human, to be judged individually on its own merits, and the strength of its assertions, then you must therefor accept the absurdity of the claim that children are fundamentally undeserving of the right to oppose, and or fundamentally incapable of the social vision needed to detect and speak out against systemic social dysfunction.

    Consider that any abused child who is aware of being abused and who is also home schooled would by definition have this ‘condition.’You should consider the conflict between the rights of parents and the rights of the state. In effect the state owns your children, if you don’t raise them as it sees fit they will take them from you by force and raise them themselves.

    No, the attitude that they are “just kids” is ageist and simplistic. There are 10 year olds with AK47s out there, and there have been child monarchs all throughout history. Children are as varied as humanity itself because imagine that, they are human beings. Some of them can compose symphonies by age 10. Conversely some adults have the minds of children for their whole existence.

    To place an age limit on adulthood is a social expediency, nothing more.

    The attitude that the 18th birthday somehow magically confers wisdom, is silly on it’s face. You may hedge and make excuses about possibility and maturity levels and scaling and majority, but the fact of the matter is all of that is an excuse for our inability or unwillingness to take each child as a case by case basis.

    What it means to be an “adult” is a frightfully complicated question. The smooth functioning of our society demands a trade off, but to ignore the fact that a trade off exists is perilous for our future to say the least.

    Further, the immaturity of children is often a direct result of the isolation, censorship, and general thought control we apply to them ironically on the grounds that they are children and can’t handle the truth by virtue of the immaturity we created.

    This is as ethically bankrupt as the claim that slaves prospered under slavery because we provided them everything, when we were the ones that created the problems we solved. Creating problems to sell the solution has always been and remains to this day a ubiquitous tool of control.

    There is a difference between legal rights and ethical ones. Just because you are allowed to do something, doesn’t mean you should.

    Second, yes, a certain amount of defiance is acceptable in children. They’re suppose to push their boundaries, to find out just how far they can go.That’s how they learn to behave in an “acceptable” manner so they can function in society as adults.

    As I said, defiance by definition is not acceptable. Defiance by definition is the movement beyond this “boundary” you speak of. That’s beyond the fact that this boundary is completely subjective and boils down to the whim of the state, since as explained above, you get to keep your children only so long as your treatment of them pleases your masters.

    Further, you speak as if learning to behave in an “acceptable” manner is imperative. How different our society would look if for example all women had agreed with you. I’m pretty sure white male land owners would still be the only voting block.

    You seem to deify society, as if functioning within it is the sole purpose of an individual. Well, I’m not an ant and while it is indeed true that we need society to manage our centralized systems, at the moment, it has always existed to serve us, not the other way around.

    As it says at the bottom of all my emails.

    “Systems were made for men, and not men for systems, and the interest of man which is self-development, is above all systems, whether theological, political or economic.” – Hugh Douglas

    Third, the description of how a “black child growing up under civil oppression” would meet the criteria is completely bogus due to the situation. As you state, defiance against oppression is natural, therefore the diagnosis doesn’t apply.

    It only fails to apply because those with the condition eventually won and made their behavior classifiable as accepted and natural. As with the fundamental truth that there is a first time for everything, in every social movement there will be ODD (heh) men (or women or children) out.

    You of all people should know that genius is by definition in the minority and that minority is not an acceptable indicator of psychopathy.

    True, it could’ve been used by the oppressors to further oppress the individual, but that would’ve been a complete misuse of the diagnosis.

    How would that misuse have been detected until after the fact? You seem to assume there is some sort of objective social reference by which all action can be judged. This is not the case. The structure of society is in effect a collective delusion, a form of tribalism used for survival, nothing more. In some societies it is completely acceptable to beat your wife to death with a rock if she has the audacity to get raped and before you think yourself a member of en enlightened culture, realize that we consign some young men to daily rape for daring to sell a couple pounds of plant derivative. Then we make drop the soap jokes about it.

    Your view is radically ethnocentric, it speaks of a very polar cultural attitude, our way and the highway so to speak. The point is, we have to agree on what is right and wrong in order to build a society and the only way society can change over time is the acceptance of deviation.

    Indeed the very purposes of sexual reproduction is to create that required deviation. It’s written into our genes in order to avoid the weaknesses of an unchanging system. The ultimate expression of your assertion that children must be turned into “acceptable” adults leads to a level of homogenization that is frankly disturbing to contemplate.

    “You’ve not made ever everybody equal, you’ve made them the same, and there’s a big difference!” – Harrison Bergeron (the film)

    By the time a child is 18 and sufficiently domesticated to avoid a diagnosis of ODD it is probably already too late and that is precisely the aim. To control a child utterly during its formative years is to control an adult. No society deserves that much power because it will lead to a human ant colony that can be wiped out by a single ant specific event.

    Like a sticker I once had said. “The survival of any species over time requires a reserve of mutants capable of exploiting or resisting opportunity. Support mutation.”

    You further made the statement “going against society is not a mental illness when society is wrong”. That’s absolutely true – which is why that situation negates the diagnosis.

    Again, how would you know that society is wrong until it’s been changed and we all agree it was wrong? Even Lincoln was a racist, it was just a facet of his society.

    You demand a paradox. A society is how it defines things. Society needs people to tell it when it is wrong, so that it can become right.

    Your father put me up to this. 🙂

    I’m glad he did. Intelligent debate forces me to demonstrate my logic. Ideally both parties learn something. Ironically, this is something that would not have been possible had my parents felt the need to drug me into homogeneity.

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” –
    John F. Kennedy

  5. ODD is a steaming load of crap! I had never heard of it until a student who had a free period and was dating a current student of mine sat in on class – behaving perfectly. Then, when a space opened, he joined another class of mine, and I was given his “diagnosis.” I said, “he never acts that way for me.” I was told that I created an environment where he could thrive despite his “condition.” I retorted that he didn’t misbehave in my class sicne I didn’t put up with any shit. I love your post becasue it basically sums up to: an excuse for being an asshole.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts, I really appreciate it 🙂

      I’m glad you liked it 🙂

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