Chapter 14: Disorders of Childhood and Adolescence
People often think of childhood as a carefree and happy time, yet it can also be
frightening and upsetting. With a growing incidence of schoolyard bullying, child abuse,
and other traumatic early-life experiences, it is not surprising that at least one-fifth of all
children and adolescents in North America experience a diagnosable psychological
disorder. While some children may experience conditions whose features center around
behavioral problems, defiance of authority figures and rules, and tend to be very stable as
a child ages (oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder), other problems are
more internally focused and may change form as a child moves toward adulthood
(ADHD and elimination disorders). Still other disorders begin in childhood and persist in
a very fixed and predictable form throughout the lifespan (pervasive developmental
disorders and mental retardation). These issues may drastically impact a child’s social,
emotional, and intellectual development.
Clinicians who work with children and adolescents generally employ a wide variety of
treatment techniques, and generally, the family needs to be involved in treatment and be
educated about the challenges of dealing with childhood and adolescent disorders.
Current concerns in the area of childhood psychopathology also consider the issue of
race, gender, and culture with regard to diagnosis, and the question of the appropriateness
and utility of psychotropic medication for children is an ongoing debate. Although some
disorders, such as autism and more serious forms of mental retardation, are mainly traced
to biological origins, many childhood disorders, such as mild retardation and disruptive
behavior problems, are more linked to individual psychological and sociocultural factors.
Childhood and Adolescence
Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder*; conduct disorder*;
nondestructive; covert-destructive; covert nondestructive; relational aggressive;
Connected to Antisocial Personality Disorder
What Are the Causes of Conduct Disorder?
Genetic and Biological factors, drug abuse, traumatic events, exposure to violent
peers or community; Most often tied to – troubled parent-child relationship,
inadequate parenting, family conflict, marital conflict, and family hostility;
Parents reject, leave, coerce, abuse, or fail to provide appropriate consistent
supervision; Children more prone if parents are antisocial, display excessive