Conduct Disorders and Severe Antisocial Behavior

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What is childhood antisocial behavior?

Indeed, Rice et al. Thus, the distinction between causality and correlation is an important consideration.

Risk factors for antisocial behavior in children

In terms of cognitive function, intelligence and cognitive deficits are common amongst youths with conduct disorder, particularly those with early-onset and have intelligence quotients IQ one standard deviation below the mean [30] and severe deficits in verbal reasoning and executive function. These findings hold true even after taking into account other variables such as socioeconomic status SES , and education. However, IQ and executive function deficits are only one piece of the puzzle, and the magnitude of their influence is increased during transactional processes with environmental factors.

Beyond difficulties in executive function, neurological research on youth with conduct disorder also demonstrate differences in brain anatomy and function that reflect the behaviors and mental anomalies associated in conduct disorder. Compared to normal controls, youths with early and adolescent onset of conduct disorder displayed reduced responses in brain regions associated with social behavior i. Lastly, youths with conduct disorder display a reduction in grey matter volume in the amygdala, which may account for the fear conditioning deficits.

These reductions are associated with the inability to regulate mood and impulsive behaviors, weakened signals of anxiety and fear, and decreased self-esteem. Aside from findings related to neurological and neurochemical profiles of youth with conduct disorder, intraindividual factors such as genetics may also be relevant. Having a sibling or parent with conduct disorder increases the likelihood of having the disorder, with a heritability rate of. Elements of the family and social environment may also play a role in the development and maintenance of conduct disorder.

For instance, antisocial behavior suggestive of conduct disorder is associated with single parent status, parental divorce, large family size, and young age of mothers. Family functioning and parent-child interactions also play a substantial role in childhood aggression and conduct disorder, with low levels of parental involvement, inadequate supervision, and unpredictable discipline practices reinforcing youth's defiant behaviors.

Peer influences have also been related to the development of antisocial behavior in youth, particularly peer rejection in childhood and association with deviant peers. In a separate study by Bonin and colleagues, parenting programs were shown to positively affect child behavior and reduce costs to the public sector.

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In addition to the individual and social factors associated with conduct disorder, research has highlighted the importance of environment and context in youth with antisocial behavior. For instance, neighborhood safety and exposure to violence has been studied in conjunction with conduct disorder, but it is not simply the case that youth with aggressive tendencies reside in violent neighborhoods.


Transactional models propose that youth may resort to violence more often as a result of exposure to community violence, but their predisposition towards violence also contributes to neighborhood climate. Similar criteria are used in those over the age of 18 for the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. Almost all adolescents who have a substance use disorder have conduct disorder-like traits, but after successful treatment of the substance use disorder, about half of these adolescents no longer display conduct disorder-like symptoms. Therefore, it is important to exclude a substance-induced cause and instead address the substance use disorder prior to making a psychiatric diagnosis of conduct disorder.

The most effective treatment for an individual with conduct disorder is one that seeks to integrate individual, school, and family settings. Additionally, treatment should also seek to address familial conflict such as marital discord and maternal or paternal depression. For those that do not develop ASPD, most still exhibit social dysfunction in adult life. The majority of research on conduct disorder suggests that there are a significantly greater number of males than females with the diagnosis, with some reports demonstrating a threefold to fourfold difference in prevalence.

Females are more likely to be characterized by covert behaviors, such as stealing or running away. Moreover, conduct disorder in females is linked to several negative outcomes, such as antisocial personality disorder and early pregnancy, [48] suggesting that sex differences in disruptive behaviors need to be more fully understood.

Females are more responsive to peer pressure [49] including feelings of guilt [50] than males. Research on racial or cultural differences on the prevalence or presentation of conduct disorder is limited. However, it appears that African-American youth are more often diagnosed with conduct disorder, [51] while Asian-American youth are about one-third as likely [52] to develop conduct disorder when compared to White American youth.

Conduct Disorders and Severe Antisocial Behavior | Paul J. Frick | Springer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Disorderly conduct. Conduct and oppositional defiant disorders: Child psychopathology E. Barkley ed. New York: Guilford Press. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th ed. Child Mind Institute.

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Conduct Disorder in Children

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th ed. Washington, DC: Author. Psychological Medicine. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Psychological Bulletin. May J Stud Alcohol. Personality Disorders. Springer: New York.

Archives of General Psychiatry. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Academic underachievement and the disruptive behavior disorders". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The role of neuropsychological deficits in conduct disorders. Maughan Eds. New York: Cambridge University Press.

The neuropsychology of conduct disorder and delinquency: Implications for understanding antisocial behavior. Fowles, P. Goodman Eds. New York: Springer. Commentary on "The neuropsychology of conduct disorder". This widespread concern has prompted professionals from many disciplines to search for more effective interventions to prevent and treat youth with such disorders. This book is my attempt to summarize the current status of this very important endeavor.

In providing this guide to clinicians, I have attempted to emphasize the critical link between understanding the clinical presentation, course, and causes of conduct disorders and designing effective interventions for children and adolescents with these disorders. Many past books, book chapters, and review articles have emphasized one or the other of these objectives. Others have focused on the implementation of specific interventions for youth with conduct disorders that is divorced from a basic understanding of the many diverse and clinically important characteristics of this population.

The applied-science approach used throughout the book is especially commendable, as is the use of concrete examples to illustrate the main ideas. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser.


Callous-unemotional traits and developmental pathways to severe conduct problems.

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