The essential feature of Conduct Disorder is a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior by a child or teenager in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated. These behaviors fall into four main groupings: aggressive conduct that causes or threatens physical harm to other people or animals, nonaggressive conduct that causes property loss or damage, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules time and time again.
Conduct Disorder is characterized by a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated, as manifested by the presence of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6_months:
Aggression to people and animals
Destruction of property
Deceitfulness or theft
Serious violations of rules
The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.
If the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Two subtypes of Conduct Disorder are provided based on the age at onset of the disorder (i.e., Childhood-Onset Type and Adolescent-Onset Type). The subtypes differ in regard to the characteristic nature of the presenting conduct problems, developmental course and prognosis, and gender ratio. Both subtypes can occur in a mild, moderate, or severe form. In assessing the age at onset, information should preferably be obtained from the youth and from caregiver(s). Because many of the behaviors may be concealed, caregivers may underreport symptoms and overestimate the age at onset.
Individuals with Childhood-Onset Type are usually male, frequently display physical aggression toward others, have disturbed peer relationships, may have had Oppositional Defiant Disorder during early childhood, and usually have symptoms that meet full criteria for Conduct Disorder prior to puberty. These individuals are more likely to have persistent Conduct Disorder and to develop adult Antisocial Personality Disorder than are those with Adolescent-Onset Type.
Adolescent-Onset Type. This subtype is defined by the absence of any criteria characteristic of Conduct Disorder prior to age 10 years. Compared with those with the Childhood-Onset Type, these individuals are less likely to display aggressive behaviors and tend to have more normative peer relationships (although they often display conduct problems in the company of others). These individuals are less likely to have persistent Conduct Disorder or to develop adult Antisocial Personality Disorder. The ratio of males to females with Conduct Disorder is lower for the Adolescent-Onset Type than for the Childhood-Onset Type.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Oct 2010
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