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Diagnostic Criteria for Conduct Disorder

In previous articles on Conduct Disorder, we looked at some of the genetic and environmental elements which contribute to the development of this condition. Today we look at the diagnostic requisites for a formal diagnosis if conduct disorder.

A.  A persistent pattern of ignoring the basic rights of others. Age-appropriate rules are repeatedly violated. The presence of three of the following behaviors in the past 12 months, and at least one in the last six months is required:

    1. Bullies, threatens or intimidates others
    2. Initiate physical fights
    3. Uses weapons to facilitate fighting (such as knives, bats, broken bottles, etc)
    4. Is physically cruel to others
    5. Is physically cruel to animals
    6. Has stolen while in the presence of the victim (e.g. mugging, stealing handbags, breaking into an occupied house)
    7. Has forced sexual activity onto another
    8. Has lit fires with the intention of destroying property
    9. Has maliciously destroyed property (other than by fire)
    10. Has broken into a car, house or other buildings
    11. Cons others, and tells lies to obtain money or goods
    12. Has stolen items of substantial value in the presence of significant others (e.g. shoplifting)
    13. Often stays out late despite parental permission, beginning before 13 years of age.
    14. Has run away from home overnight while under parent supervision (or once without returning for a long period)
    15. Persistent absences from school, commencing before the age of 13.

B.  The behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning.


Conduct Disorder can be further delineated into three groups based on severity:

Mild: few if any conduct problems and the conduct problems cause minimal harm to others.

Moderate: The number of conduct problems lies between the criteria for Mild and Severe.

Severe: Numerous conduct problems far in excess of the required number to meet he basic diagnostic criteria and/or the person causes considerable harm to other.


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