It is important to look for other disorders which may be present ...
January 22, 2003 9:22 AM   Subscribe

ODD. Indeed.
posted by magullo (55 comments total)
Jesus. Heaven spare us from the inventors of disorders. I personally suffer from RDCNBD, or Ridiculous Disorder Cynical Non Believers Disorder.
posted by jonson at 9:28 AM on January 22, 2003

A local high-schooler (yes--high schooler) was formally diagnosed with this a few years back and it was a nightmare for his teachers. They allowed him to break dress-code, walk out of class, cause disruptions, swear at his teachers... A substitute teacher I knew told me the buzz amongst the faculty was, "Let him do what he wants, or he'll cuss at you, maybe even smack you--he'll get away with it and you might get sued."

The ultimate in our culture of excuses for social responsibilty, or a true psychological disorder? Hmph.
posted by Shane at 9:29 AM on January 22, 2003

I too share the shame of RDCNBD. Perhaps we should start a support group.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:32 AM on January 22, 2003

Hey! I had ODD! Still do as a matter of fact. And I expect all you MeFiers to make concessions for that. It's Troll Time!
posted by orange swan at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2003

Great another excuse for parents who raise brats.

I have a 2 year old daughter who is starting to go through her "NO" stage.

When I ask her to do something and she yells "No!", I reply with a mildly stern "Excuse Me" and her response quickly changes to "yes daddy". Problem solved. I don't keep my kids from having fun, but I do demand that they obey and respect my wife and me.
posted by Blubble at 9:36 AM on January 22, 2003

Shane, that does sound horrible. Being a high school teacher's difficult enough, without a hooligan with a free pass.

This all begs the question, "so what if this IS a psychological disorder". I mean, even if it is, in the real world we can't have kids & teens running around like nutcases, instigating violence and being disruptive. What does classifying such behavior do?

On Preview: Blubble, how can you be so cruel to a poor child who is clearly afflicted with ODD? You heartles, heartless father!
posted by jonson at 9:38 AM on January 22, 2003

Great. Another label. Uh, maybe they (or their parents) are just bad? Ah well, maybe they'll make a pill for it!
posted by LouReedsSon at 9:41 AM on January 22, 2003

Treatment of ODD may include: Parent Training Programs..., Individual Psychotherapy..., Family Psychotherapy..., Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy..., and Social Skills Training...

Why no pharmaceutical interventions? Seems like that would be the cheapest way to get the little ODD-balls out of their bad moods. As it stands, this looks like a permanent-employment policy for psychotherapists.
posted by alms at 9:43 AM on January 22, 2003

ODD? Sounds pretty normal to me.
posted by gramcracker at 9:47 AM on January 22, 2003

alms, it's a two step process. Before they can push a drug they have to create a market for it. So step one is to label the behavior as a disorder. Pushing the pills is step two.

Clearly the pharmaceuticals have saturated the market for amphemines for schoolchildren -- they were able to keep their growth figures for a while by pushing it to younger and younger children. But they can no longer offer the growth projections that shareholders and analysts like to see, so their pusherspartners in the psych industry oblige by turning another aspect of normal behavior into a disorder. Sure, the description of the behavior sounds extreme enough to treat now, but if it follows the ritalin pattern, they're just a few years away from schools mandating the drugging of any kid who frowns.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2003

is there any difference between simply thinking up a label for behaviour that's outside-the-average and it being a "disorder"? is there any evidence that indicates an underlying causal connection that's somehow separate from this being the tail end of a normal (in both senses of the word) distribution? or are the 10-15% of children that are happiest suffering from happiness disorder? and the 10-15% that are tallest from height disorder? is there, in short, any science behind this?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:52 AM on January 22, 2003

I thought ODD was just the name for all people who had ADHD, PDD-NOS and other similar disorders.
posted by ginz at 9:52 AM on January 22, 2003

Symptoms of ODD may include:
  • frequent temper tantrums
  • excessive arguing with adults
  • active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
  • deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
  • blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
  • often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • frequent anger and resentment
  • mean and hateful talking when upset
  • seeking revenge

Sounds like MeFi to me....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2003

On one side, I could see that defining these 'disorders' comes from too much parental concern. On the other, I could see that it is the parent's problems causing the 'disorder' (ala SNL's Homocil.

I dunno, let's lock 'em all up in military school & keep drinking.
posted by password at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2003

ODD sounds to me like the personality profile of most succesfull CEO's and many politicians.
posted by troutfishing at 9:53 AM on January 22, 2003

I thought he linked it beacuse approx. 20% of our members suffer from it. Should we all go into therapy? I'd like to suggest we have an encounter group at the pub down the block.

I suspect ODD was originally meant to diagnose a really, really severe condition you see from time to time, and like ADD it'll get turned into a major psychological epidemic. What if you have ODD and ADD? Do you get really angry but keep forgetting and moving on to other things?
posted by Salmonberry at 9:57 AM on January 22, 2003

"ODD sounds to me like the personality profile of most succesfull CEO's and many politicians."
Not to mention a (un)healthy chunk of my co-workers, fellow commuters, checkout cashiers, drinking buddies...
posted by chandy72 at 9:59 AM on January 22, 2003

I'm not Okay, you're not Okay!
(Soon available in paperback)
posted by HTuttle at 10:10 AM on January 22, 2003

Wow... such a lot of pontificating on subjects no-one so far has declared experience or expertise in.

No shrinks here? No parents of kids with that set of symptoms? No partners of adults with ODD? No bonkers co-workers that fit the pattern?* You lucky, lucky people!!

Guess I could always trawl the help pages of a whole bunch of professional associations, and present you all with another easy target.

Or maybe I'll not bother...

On preview - well, ok, chandy has spotted a few...
posted by dash_slot- at 10:11 AM on January 22, 2003

I don't see what all the fuss is about ... anyone want some Soma?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:14 AM on January 22, 2003

Sounds like MeFi to me....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:53 AM PST on January 22

Or at least some particular members of our esteemed community. No names please. In general I rank MeFi very high on the adult conversation scale. But feel free to disagree if that keeps you from throwing a tantrum. ;-)
posted by nofundy at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2003

HTuttle - How about "I'm OK, you suck!"

maybe we can give the ODD people the new "no guilt" pills. That'll fix 'em.
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2003

Damn you, Steve_at_Linnwood! that line was mine! MINE! MINE! ME! ME! me! me! me! me! me! me! me! me! me! me! ! ! ! !
posted by troutfishing at 10:20 AM on January 22, 2003

Speaking as a parent with an one ODD child and one non-ODD child, the difference between ODD and normal-everyday childhood defiance and bellyaching is like night and day. Unless you live with it, you have no idea. Consider what it would be like if you took a 2-year-old's temper tantrum and scaled it up to a 15-year-old boy-- and make it a regular occurance, for years.

That doesn't mean that these kids deserve a free pass, nor does it absolve parental responsibilities. What it does mean is require an alternate strategy for dealing with an ODD child. You can ground, restrict, spank or otherwise punish an ODD child until hell freezes over, and it won't make one whit of difference. A truly ODD child will *not* respond to the stick; only the carrot.

That's the key. My wife and I have different strategies for dealing with our ODD child (J.) vs. our non-ODD child (Z.). With Z., normal punishment and reward parenting works just fine; he responds and alters his behavior in response to both.

With J. we have to more actively seek and identify behavior we approve of and reinforce it with a rewards. This isn't to say he doesn't get punished-- he does. But he's punished less frequently, and more often by revokation of privilege than anything else.

Overall, we've been pretty successful I think. Only time will tell.
posted by Cerebus at 10:29 AM on January 22, 2003

*ODD bubbles to the surface*

The problem here is the perception that some people are "normal" and that any one who can be described as having the symptoms of a named disorder or disease is "abnormal".

In the case of these disorders and syndromes, each person is falls somewhere along a continuum. He might be described as "having" ODD, but that is not at all like having a tumor in his brain or even having a plasma tv in his living room... it is simply a way for psychologists to describe an portion of his mental state using symptoms (or less charged, "aspects") that tend to be found as a collection.

Unfortunately, people use a diagnosis like this to dissociate themselves from those aspects. They get angry, break a window, and say, "hey, it's not me, it's my ODD!" Of course it is you though, as is your ADD, and your alcoholism, and your tendency to eat too much, and your penchant for photos of barely legal young ladies.

If we disowned every nameable aspect of ourselves as some THING that we have, rather than all that we ARE, there would be very little left besides a bag of bones. Oh wait, I just named bag and bones... okay then, there would be nothing.
posted by 4easypayments at 10:32 AM on January 22, 2003

A truly ODD child will *not* respond to the stick; only the carrot.

Most current child psychology thinking (gradually being accepted by the general public, thankfully) says that this is true of all children, or at least that the prospects for long-term success in terms of behaviour modification for all children are greatly improved by more carrot and less stick.

I sympathise with you, you sound like you're doing everything right, and I agree with what Salmonberry said, too.
posted by biscotti at 10:39 AM on January 22, 2003

troutfishing: HaHa.. too slow....

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:40 AM on January 22, 2003

Consider what it would be like if you took a 2-year-old's temper tantrum and scaled it up to a 15-year-old boy

Isn't this already called puberty?

More seriously - Is there any data available as to whether people get over this/what they end up being like as adults?

More liberally - Hey, isn't it about time we moved on from labelling our children as odd? (Should it be 'differently even'?)
posted by biffa at 10:42 AM on January 22, 2003

Western civilization has become so advanced we can now define exactly what disorders hold us back and place it in remission by considerately marketing the proper medication causing most to forget the reason they were angry/upset/etc and ultimately do nothing to fix their individual problem. Now that's progress!

"One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small..."

Hi. I'm Lou and I'm an addict...
posted by LouReedsSon at 10:43 AM on January 22, 2003

biscotti: Of course, but I feel there is a legitimate place for the metaphorical stick in parenting as well as the carrot. The problem with parenting ODD kids is learning that that portion of the parent's arsenal just doesn't work as expected.
posted by Cerebus at 10:46 AM on January 22, 2003

biffa: Puberty normally doesn't involve being spat on, assaulted with a knife, and having to restrain a child in a body hold to prevent him from hurting himself until the tantrum ends.

Welcome to ODD.

Generally-- though I don't have the links ATM-- as ODD kids age they steady their keel to a great extent. It's not necessarily a lifelong debilitating condition. Later-in-life ODD-related problems stem mostly from failure to build proper coping strategies as a youth. Parents address this by learning their own coping strategies and (hopefully) transmitting them to the child. A good therapist is incredibly useful in this process, for both the parent and the child.
posted by Cerebus at 10:52 AM on January 22, 2003

Cerebus: the metaphorical stick in the parent's arsenal doesn't work as expected more often than not with "normal" children either (punishment-based methods tend to teach the child to merely avoid punishment (which is not always a good thing - sometimes this results in cessation of unwanted behaviour, but sometimes it just results in hiding the behaviour), not learn from and modify their behaviour). At very least it's far less reliably effective in the long term than the methods you're using with your ODD child, and has negative ramifications in many cases. There's no real negative side to using positive reinforcement except that it may take longer to achieve the desired changes (the plus to this is that those changes tend to become permanent).
posted by biscotti at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2003

A truly ODD child will *not* respond to the stick; only the carrot.

Most current child psychology thinking (gradually being accepted by the general public, thankfully) says that this is true of all children, or at least that the prospects for long-term success in terms of behavior modification for all children are greatly improved by more carrot and less stick.

Just a question, what happens to the child when they grow up and leave their parents' control and the reality of the world offers them nothing but the proverbial stick? Are they equipped to deal with a situation that involves negative repercussions?

More liberally

Nice try[oll]

I really liked what 4easy had to say. Recognizing a pattern of behavior or a problem does not excuse the actions, very nicely put, however rule number one to survive working with the mentally ill is that you never take anything personally, if you internalize it every time a schizophrenic calls you a name, you aren't going to make it very long, or you are going to learn to resent that person. I can imagine ODD kids are a lot like psychotics during their eruptions, the difference being that an ODD child can learn to control when the eruptions occur and to what level they go where a schizophrenic has no control. Anyone got any ideas/ real knowledge about this?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:16 AM on January 22, 2003

Puberty normally doesn't involve being spat on, assaulted with a knife, and having to restrain a child in a body hold to prevent him from hurting himself until the tantrum ends.

so 5-15% of children are like this (the claim in the original link)?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2003

5-15% of children can be described as "having" ODD. Even these kids fall along a continuum, which I would have thought was self-evident. My son is near one extreme, obviously.
posted by Cerebus at 11:40 AM on January 22, 2003

Sounds to me like what ODD kids needs is some good old fashioned deprivation therapy.

If I were a teacher and a student walked out of my class, I'd simply never let them in again. If sued, I'd cite evidence like what Cerebus said and simply state that I felt that my life would be in danger, and that I've never been equipped with the skills to prevent a teenager from commiting suicide.

Eventually the problem would go away.
posted by shepd at 11:42 AM on January 22, 2003

I have had ODD students. Fortunately, I teach at a private school, which means that the kids don't necessarily get any special breaks for being ODD. What they do get (from me anyways) is what every student gets - treated as an individual.

By this I mean that there isn't really an easy "cookie cutter" approach to educating children. I think most teachers would agree with me on this. I have had as much success working with students with ADD, ADHD, ODD, etc as with normal students. It is a matter of understanding the disorder, setting appropriate boundaries, and enforcing them consistently and fairly.

The rules that force local public school systems (including the public school system in my state) into giving some of these kids a "free pass" ultimately do more harm to these kids than good. A close friend at a public school tells me stories of kids with ODD who are allowed to do everything up to hurl desks at teachers without so much as a suspension. Many of these kids gets arrested for doing similar things out of school. When they say, "you can't punish me - I have a learning disorder," they still go to jail.

A kid with ODD can still learn personal responsibility and do a high level of academic work. You just need to understand how they are different from normal students.
Yea, yeah, normal is relative.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2003

Eventually the problem would go away.

Go away where? Prison? The graveyard? Yeah, let's just sweep problems under the rug! Why don't we just take all the sick people and put them on an island, Hawaii maybe, and let them fend for themselves, eventually the problem would go away. That's a really kind attitude.

First of all these are children, secondly they are sick, third it is a PUBLIC school and public schools are required to teach ALL children, so if you passed off the kid you'd be winning a whole lot of friends in the teachers' lounge from whoever you dumped your problem student off on because you "can't deal" with disruptive behavior. What about parents like Cerebus, does the problem just go away for them? We're talking about their kids here!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:52 AM on January 22, 2003

What's the difference between this and resisting arrest!? "But your honour, my client's suffering from ODD, so those police officers shouldn't have given him the beats!"
posted by freakystyley at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2003

My son is near one extreme, obviously.

i don't doubt that your son's behaviour is extreme, but if it's so extreme that there's only, say, 1 in a 1000 children like that, then why does it have to be a "disorder"? why isn't it just your unfortunate luck (in this particular aspect; i guess you find him rewarding in other ways) to have a particularly badly behaved child?

as you point out, children have a range of behaviours. so why the need to explain this with a "disorder"? i'm assuming (maybe this is my mistake) that isolating some children as having a particular problem means that they're not just at one end of the normal range, but somehow qualitatively different.

i'm not trying to criticise your life or your child - i just don't understand what "disorder" means in this case. if anyone does know if there is some evidence that makes these children an identifiable group then i'd be glad to learn what it is.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2003

So EVERY SINGLE kid in middle school/Jr. High has this, right?
posted by LoopSouth at 12:05 PM on January 22, 2003

Like Cerebus, I have an ODD child in my family. As far as I'm concerned, this is yet another topic that just shouldn't be brought up on Metafilter, because the quality of response is likely to be more on the order of Fark than anything else. Sadly, this thread demonstrates my misgivings quite effectively.

The point of labeling a disorder is not to give the bearer an excuse, or to remove caregivers' options under thread of ADA lawsuit. The point is to identify a patient as requiring a specific treatment (and parenting) approach, which is drastically different from normal kids, permissive Summerhillians fantasies in this thread notwithstanding. ODD kids simply do not respond the way most of us expect. I'm not the parent in this case, thank God, because most of the time I don't realize how to handle a situation until it's too late and the child is throwing things. Ask her to keep her mouth shut while eating dinner, and she is likely to start eating her mashed potatoes with her fingers. Discuss a family member's stroke, and she will laugh out loud. Tell her not to hit her brother, and she might grab a ballpoint pen and try to stab him. Ask her, gently, to take her medicine, and she will kick your hand and send the pills flying, while screaming that she will report you to the police for "giving her drugs" which her teachers told her made you criminals. Try to prevent her from hurting someone or damaging the house, and you may have to get three adults to hold her down.

Bright ideas, peanut gallery? Because I'm all ears.
posted by dhartung at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2003

andrew: Because identifying a disorder can be helpful to both the parents and the child. Despite the "oh no not another disorder" rhetoric, there is a lot of value in identifying disorders.

The parents get the comfort of knowing that the problems they have at home are not unique, and access to a support network that would otherwise be closed to them. Do you think a "Parents with badly-behaving kids" support group would be easy to find, compared to a "Parents of ODD children" support group? Additionally, identifying a disorder helps parents get access to professionals who actually can help, which is of inestimable value.

On the child's side, he gets the knowlege that he is not alone; that the way he feels and deals (or doesn't) with the world is not unique to him alone. If you think children don't notice where they themselves stray from "normal" you don't know how kids are. Having the handle of a disorder to grasp can give children an important "leg up" on coping with it. Finally, the child gets access to help in coping with his differences from both his better-educated parents, more aware teachers, and mental health professionals.
posted by Cerebus at 12:15 PM on January 22, 2003

They call it a disorder instead of a disease or a syndrome because those terms imply that there is an outside pathological problem causing this pattern of symptoms like a germ or a cancer, but that there is a distinct pattern of symptomatic behavior. It doesn't really matter how many people have the disorder, just that there is a distinct pattern and that there is something wrong (something is in disorder)

Yeah, teenagers are shit heads, but when they come at you with a knife, there is obviously something wrong somewhere. These are kids we're talking about, they need to get beyond these problems before they become adults or you're right, not a whole lot of judges are going to sympathize with them when they use ODD in a courtroom!
posted by Pollomacho at 12:22 PM on January 22, 2003

ok, i misunderstood what "disorder" meant (it would have saved a lot of time if someone had simply said to my first question "no, there's no 'science' behind it, it's just a (very) useful label"). thanks for the clarification and sorry for any offence - i really did believe that a disorder was something identifiably different rather than the extreme end of "normal" (like disease/syndrome in Pollomacho's comment).
posted by andrew cooke at 12:35 PM on January 22, 2003

maybe it would have helped if i'd used "quantitative" rather than "qualitative" earlier. duh.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:42 PM on January 22, 2003

I wonder if some of these kids actually have another psychiatric condition that manifests in this manner. Also, does anyone know if anyone has ever done medical testing, such as brain scans, on these kids?
posted by konolia at 1:56 PM on January 22, 2003

Is this an American thing? I've never heard of it in the UK, and with my school of around 1600 people, there should be at least 80 'ODD' people, according to the 5-15% statistic. At 15% its 240, and thats an entire YEAR of pupils. I don't think so.

Yes, there are people who do extreme things such as threatening teachers, but they don't have a disorder, they just don't want to be in school. Outside of the classroom, they exhibt the behaviour of a 'normal' person.
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:14 PM on January 22, 2003

I'd never heard of ODD before reading this Mefi thread, and then later today I see this article in the Detroit Free Press:

Boy Scared of Returning to School
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:07 PM on January 22, 2003

Orange Goblin - i can think of someone at my old school (uk, comp.) who would have qualified. carried a knife, fought with parents, eventually lived in the woodshed after being thrown out of the house, kicked out of school, ended up in juvenile prison or whatever it's called. wasn't called ODD then, though. i'd hesitate to call him normal - with hindsight maybe "misunderstood", but "violent thug" felt accurate at the time.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:10 PM on January 22, 2003

Now that we've all been made to feel guilty about our disbelief or our cynicism towards the camps of experts who place these labels on children, let us accept the fact that yes, there certainly can exist such a disorder, but also, let us acknowledge the past misdiagnosed multitudes of ADD and similar disorders who were placed with like "inflicted" and shunned by "normal" while Ritalin coarsed through their veins constantly.

5% - 15%? I'd want a second opinion is all.
posted by LouReedsSon at 5:16 PM on January 22, 2003

Pollomacho, I just remember that when _I_ was defiant as a child (certainly not to the point of ODD) and I refused to listen, the best way to snap me back to reality was simply to ignore me.

I really don't know too much about ODD, but it's always seemed to me that if someone wants something, and they're ignored, they'll eventually figure out they need to ask why they're not having any attention paid to them.

Also, it seems to me that a child that reacts badly to any sort of stimulation (especially badly to negative stimulation) would be best left unstimulated. So, if that's true, simply deprive the person of your presence and let _them_ decide when they want to talk to you again.

Because, again, it seems to me that ODD (from the description I've read) is a child who thinks they've grown up to the point where they don't want to be told what to do, but yet don't know how best to react to a situation. So, what do we do to adults we don't like (not despise, just don't like)?

Well, I hope you just ignore them...

Beats me, but hey, I'm a _salted_ peanut...
posted by shepd at 11:09 PM on January 22, 2003

LouReedSon - if it's a label with no particular undelying cause then they can pick whatever number they like - maybe 5-15% is seen as the right kind of size for defining a group that can self-support, for example.

the whole thing seems weird, but it also seems no different to the classic problem of punishment or treatment for those that break the law. daniel dennett, in elbow room, which i've just been reading, tries to clarify this from the pov of free will and/or determinism, but i found it very confused. need to read it again...
posted by andrew cooke at 2:22 AM on January 23, 2003

if you want to discuss coping with a child who exhibits ODD behaviour, maybe a dedicated forum might be the place to visit, dhartung?
you may find some of the comments on this thread flippant, but that is the nature of the beast. a healthy level of cynicism is fairly normal around these parts. this is not at all suprising, considering the Ritalin/ADHD (includes *fantastic* 'we don't need no education' midi file) situation high-lighted by LouReedsSon, above.
posted by asok at 2:35 AM on January 23, 2003

I think Orange Goblin brings up a terrific point. Why don't we hear about this sort of problem in other parts of the world? If this disorder were caused by a physical problem instead of a social one, I'd imagine psychologists in Europe would have noticed 5%-15% levels by now. Maybe it's something in our American food supply? Or perhaps it's just a culture of total tolerance and limited personal responsibility.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:15 PM on January 23, 2003

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