It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Adults with ODD?

By far the most popular question coming through my website and email is one that doesn’t even deal with children and adolescents. Regardless of how the questions are stated, they all sound something like this:

Everything I hear and read talks about Oppositional Defiant Disorder in children and adolescents. What about ADULTS? Is there an adult ODD?

Odd is classified as a condition of childhood and adolescence according to the current edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as published by the American Psychiatric Association. When a youngster reaches 18, he or she moves out of ODD and into the adult classification system. If the adult’s behavior is serious enough, they might be classified according to a group of diagnoses called “personality disorders.” At one time there was a classification called Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder, but it is no longer being used. One theory on it being discontinued was that all personality disorders contain some passive-aggressive (oppositional and defiant) behaviors.

Okay, what constitutes “serious enough?”

Maladaptive behaviors are serious enough when the adult cannot maintain employment or constantly moves from job to job, has trouble with significant other relationships (possible multiple divorces), or has a strong dependence on alcohol, substances or negative habits.

Although we’re talking about adults here, young people can engage in similar behaviors when they have trouble in school, have difficulty making and keeping friends, and rely on fancy toys or video games to synthetically alter their mood.


James D. Sutton, Psychologist


Note added December 5, 2009:

This post has obviously struck a chord with a lot of folks. The comments are reflective of the frustration of not only family members of individuals presenting adult-type features of oppositional and defiant behaviors, but of these individuals themselves as they watch their lives and the lives of loved ones fall apart before them.

As noted, these behaviors in adulthood can go by a lot of different names, classifications and diagnoses. Identification and treatment can be a paramount concern, also. In response to these posts, I have added a short video (length: 9:51) entitled  Adults with ODD. My intent was to offer introductory insights, interventions and resources. I hope you find them helpful. –JDS

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 272 Comments

Helping a Troubled Child Self-Soothe (Part Six-Final)

The information in this serial posting comes from psychologist Dr. James Sutton’s current work-in-progress, The Changing Behavior Book: a fresh approach to the difficult child. One of the chapters is on teaching troubled youngsters the skills of soothing themselves in times of difficulty. To read Dr. Sutton’s comments on this new book (which will also be available in e-book format), including a description of its 20 chapters, click here


Helping a Troubled Child Self-Soothe (Part Six-Final)

“Automatic” Soothing

The capacity for a youngster to self-soothe is directly related to that child’s concept of themself. This concept is Self Concept, and the youngster’s evaluation of it makes up Self Esteem. When a youngster improves or gains in Self Concept, his ability to self-soothe improves also; they move together. It makes sense then that efforts at improving Self Concept would “automatically” boost skills of self-soothing.

In addition to Self Esteem, there are three other components to Self Concept: Body Self, Social Self and Cognitive Self. It’s not at all unusual for a youngster to struggle with one or more of these. Here’s where we can help.

Body Self relates to how a youngster views her physical appearance and presence in comparison to peers. Although we can’t always change every aspect of how our children look, the best appearance or correction possible is important, whether it be clothing, braces, eyeglasses or any number of things that enhance appearance and a sense of physical wholeness and functionality. In other instances, Body Self might be related to physical skills and abilities. Sports and athletics would be an example. Helping a youngster with these skills contributes powerfully to Body Self.

Social Self reflects a youngster’s comfort in being around and interacting with others. Like any other skill, it can be developed. Consider also how Social Self is critical to self-soothing. If a youngster is socially adept enough to ask other for help or assistance, they are getting the soothing they seek.

Cogntive Self is closely tied to self-soothing. It’s the ability to use skills of thinking and accumulated knowledge to solve problems and issues. A child who is failing in school is experiencing a major problem with Cognitive Self. Helping a child with homework or finding for them a good tutor address Cognitive Self. The practice of commenting on a youngster’s good decision making addresses Cognitive Self and encourages the child to keep up the effort.  A child with a stronger Cognitive Self finds it easier to self-soothe.

All four of these, Self Esteem, Body Self, Social Self and Cognitive Self are all inter-related. When we improve a youngster’s capacity in one or more of them, the whole Self Concept receives a boost. When that happens, improved skills of self-soothing follow “automatically”.

(To read about my informative 73 page e-book, Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem, click here. It gets into much more detail on the subject.)


James Sutton, Psychologist           

September 6, 2008 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Educators, family, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment