Oppositional defiant disorder is a childhood disorder that is characterized by negative, defiant, disobedient, and often hostile behavior toward adults and authority figures primarily. In order to be diagnosed, the behaviors must occur for at least a period of 6 months.
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is characterized by the frequent occurrence of at least four of the following behaviors: losing one’s temper, arguing with adults, actively defying or refusing to comply with the requests or rules of adults, deliberately doing things that will annoy other people, blaming others for his or her own mistakes or misbehavior, being touchy or easily annoyed by others, being angry and resentful, or being spiteful or vindictive.
Negativistic and defiant behaviors are expressed by persistent stubbornness, resistance to directions, and unwillingness to compromise, give in, or negotiate with adults or peers. Defiance may also include deliberate or persistent testing of limits, usually by ignoring orders, arguing, and failing to accept blame for misdeeds.
Hostility can be directed at adults or peers and is shown by deliberately annoying others or by verbal aggression (usually without the more serious physical aggression seen in conduct disorder).
Manifestations of the disorder are almost invariably present in the home setting, but may not be evident at school or in the community. Symptoms of the disorder are typically more evident in interactions with adults or peers whom the individual knows well, and thus may not be apparent during clinical examination. Usually individuals with this disorder do not regard themselves as oppositional or defiant, but justify their behavior as a response to unreasonable demands or circumstances.
Specific Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- A pattern of negative, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:
- often loses temper
- often argues with adults
- often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
- often deliberately annoys people
- often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
- is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
- is often angry and resentful
- is often spiteful or vindictive
Note: Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.
- The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.
- The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a psychotic or mood disorder (such as depression).
- Criteria are not met for conduct disorder, and, if the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for antisocial personality disorder.
For more on treatment, please see treatment of oppositional defiant disorder.