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Oppositionality And Oppositional Defiant Disorder

The boundaries between oppositionality—displayed by most young people at one time or another—and the psychiatric condition called oppositional defiant disorder are blurred. Whether oppositionality is considered maladaptive, that is, a disorder, largely depends on the intensity, frequency, and duration of the behaviors and if they interfere with the young person's psychosocial functioning. Defiance and noncompliance can cause impairment through frequent arguments at home, reduced school performance, school detention, or suspension.

Children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder display a pattern of negativistic and hostile conduct towards people in authority, typically parents or teachers. They lose their temper and swear with little provocation, especially if they cannot get what they want. They are stubborn and cannot give in. When asked to do something, they simply do not do it ("I will do it later," "I forgot"). They are touchy, blame others for their mistakes, and often seem to get enjoyment from provoking and annoying people. They hold grudges and can be vindictive. Oppositional children justify their behavior by saying that what they are asked to do is unreasonable or unfair (American Psychiatric Association 1994).

These problems occur more often at home where they can result in extreme family tension, but can be seen at school also. Parents and teachers feel frustrated with these young people and this leads to angry confrontations. However, these defiant young people seldom carry out serious antisocial or delinquent acts and their conduct can be normal in many situations, for example at school or in social settings (Angold and Costello 1996).

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaOther Marriage & Family TopicsOppositionality - Oppositionality And Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Causal Factors, Epidemiology, Treatment, Family's Response To Oppositionality