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Children and adolescents with conduct
disorder are budding psychopaths. They repeatedly and deliberately (and
joyfully) violate the rights of others and breach age-appropriate social norms
and rules. Some of them gleefully hurt and torture people or, more frequently,
animals. Others damage property. Yet others habitually deceive, lie, and steal.
These behaviors inevitably render them socially, occupationally, and
academically dysfunctional. They are poor performers at home, in school, and in
the community. As such adolescents grow up, and beyond the age of 18, the
diagnosis automatically changes from Conduct Disorder to the Antisocial
Children with Conduct Disorder are in denial. They tend to minimize their problems and blame others for their misbehavior and failures. This shifting of guilt justifies, as far as they are concerned, their invariably and pervasively aggressive, bullying, intimidating, and menacing gestures and tantrums. Adolescents with Conduct Disorder are often embroiled in fights, both verbal and physical. They frequently use weapons, purchased or improvised (e.g., broken glass) and they are cruel. Many underage muggers, extortionists, purse-snatchers, rapists, robbers, shoplifters, burglars, arsonists, vandals, and animal torturers are diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.
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Conduct Disorder comes in many shapes and
forms. Some adolescents are "cerebral" rather than physical. These
are likely to act as con-artists, lie their way out of awkward situations,
swindle everyone, their parents and teachers included, and forge documents to
erase debts or obtain material benefits.
Conduct-disordered children and adolescent find it difficult to abide by any rules and to honor agreements. They regard societal norms as onerous impositions. They stay late at night, run from home, are truant from school, or absent from work without good cause. Some adolescents with Conduct Disorder have been also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and at least one personality disorder.
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