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Oppositional Defiant Disorder | ODD | Troubled Girls

Oppositional Defiant Disorder | ODD | Troubled Girls

Oppositional defiant disorder, clinically known as ODD, is a disruptive type of behavior pattern, commonly found in pre-adolescents and adolescents, wherein the person is downright rude, argues, enjoys going against the crowd, and avoids the beaten track to forge an alternate path.

During infancy, and up to age 3, a child cannot differentiate between himself and his caretaker, and hangs onto every word of his caretaker. However, as he grows rich in experiences, and as more and more people make an entry into his life, he begins to differentiate between himself and others. As the ego develops, his feelings and opinions become distinct, and he learns to assert himself and expects others to comply to his wishes. While most children discover that complying is a two way process, some resolve this issue with a few hard bumps.

However, a few turn into rebels with a huge attitude and expect others to always tow the line. When this is greeted with resistance, it is met with counter resistance, and gradually such children tend to oppose the flow. Oppositional Defiant Disorder among teens is marked with insolence, going against the tide, deliberately arguing with authority figures, chalking a new and sometimes dangerous path, defying rules and questioning age-old customs. Oftentimes, such teens are at loggerheads with most people, as they misconstrue even the best of intentions.

While these are characteristics of any adolescent, it becomes disruptive when teens often get into trouble by flouting rules. Also, such teens enjoy getting into trouble, as this is purely an attention seeking tactic.

The following is an example of such behavior:  Sandra had lost her mother as a child. Her father remarried when she was 9, and like the fairy-tale step mother, the new lady favored her own children over Sandra and her father in order to make them feel at home, and soon began neglecting Sandra. She sought her father’s attention by making demands, by behaving oddly and getting reprimanded. This manifested in all her relationships, even into marriage. This impudence led to a divorce, after which she went into depression. During counseling, an extreme inferiority complex was found to be the root cause of her impertinence.

Psychologically, people enjoy getting attention and young children cannot discern how to appropriately obtain it. The one mistake caregivers make is to ignore right conduct and react only when they notice a deviant behavior. Also, it’s human nature to find someone’s mistake and try to rectify it. Psychologically, this is termed as identification, a defense mechanism wherein we project our mistakes over others, identify them and admonish others. This gives some sort of pleasure to the critic, but can be extremely demeaning to the criticized. Constant criticism, especially when the criticism is unconstructive, can result in Oppositional Defiant Disorder among teens and adults, for this serves as a protective shield. When you appear aggressive and rude, this can scare others away!

Oppositional Defiant Disorder among teens and adults is a result of a very repressive upbringing, or occurs in extremely stressful and restrictive settings. The basic human mind charges itself to either fight, or take flight, when faced with oppressive situations. So Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a defense mechanism, where the person becomes aggressive to counter perceived aggression.

During counseling, the person is taught to modify their behavior to comply with socially acceptable modes. Most importantly, teens are taught to handle criticism, both constructive and unconstructive, to beat the bully at his own game, without bullying. Children are taught to negotiate without having to compromise. Role modeling is most effective while dealing with Oppositional Defiant Disorder among teens.

Melissa, aged 16, was known to suffer from ODD. During therapy with her life coach, all her past relationship hassles were brought out into the open. They enacted each scene, and discussed how Melissa could have handled the situations better. Gradually, she learned to deal with her sister’s rudeness, her boyfriend’s bossy nature, her relatives’ unconstructive criticism, and the bullies that life often throws at us. People began to admire and respect her. From being querulous and peevish, she blossomed into a calm, confident and self-assured girl.

Misplaced confidence and fostering leadership qualities is also dealt with. 17 year old Harry was a confirmed rebel who sped in his father’s car, and his gang of friends consisted of unruly youngsters who broke traffic rules and flouted authority. After getting penalized from high school, Harry joined an alternative school for troubled teens where his behavior was monitored. While Harry’s behavior wasn't on the dangerous side, he did show signs of being a miscreant. Harry was placed in a group where youth work with openness. They were often given complicated and challenging puzzles to solve. They discussed and debated on several burning issues and a feeling of camaraderie, coupled with responsibility, was born out of this interaction. When the shift was from academics to intellectual pursuits, Harry began to handle his life more responsibly.


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