Friday, May 16, 2014

Oppositional Disorder: In Praise of the Therapeutic
by Gary K Clabaugh

There was a time when insufferable children were thought to be a product of parents failing to set limits and impose responsibilities. "Spoiled brats" was the common lexicon. But we now know that “brats" actually suffer from a medical condition called “oppositional disorder.”

According to the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders, oppositional disorder's symptoms include:
(1) violations of minor rules
(2) temper tantrums
(3) argumentativeness
(4) provocative behavior
(5) stubbornness

We can easily see why it was thought to be “brattiness.”

Think how terribly misguided a trip to the woodshed was. Reflect on how off the mark more modern remedies, like "grounding," still are. Even now, well into the 21st Century, we lack adequate appreciation of the disorder and its insidious subtlety. Parents are still trying to "cure" Johnny by means of time-outs and the like. They must be brought to realize that he instead needs:
• Clinical diagnosis via psychological testing and assessment
• Chart notes, a case history, test reports, and probably
• Psychotherapy and/or behavior therapy possibly combined with
• Psychopharmacological treatment using drugs such as: Ritalin, Librium or Haldol.

Reactionaries claim that the therapeutic model of child rearing (and schooling) has gotten out of hand. They think that brats still exist and blame the absence of firm, consistent, loving, discipline. Extreme skeptics even think that the therapeutic approach enjoys growing popularity chiefly because it:
• Enriches clinicians,
• Increases drug company profits and
• Relieves parents (and school officials) of the onerous responsibility of actually enforcing their own rules.

Those of us who have achieved a therapeutic view know better. We recognize "brattiness" as a dangerous relic from a blame-happy past. There are no brats, only sick children. And thankfully, given adequate therapy and appropriate drugs, the illness that torments them can usually be controlled.

For a more personalized version of these thoughts, see:
Oppositional Disorder

-- GKC