Conduct Disorder

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Brain damage and a distinct difference in brain anatomy is one characteristic of "Conduct Disorder", a disorder seen in 2-16% of children who display certain characteristics, including anti social behavior, like hurting animals and other children, a lack of empathy and more.  According to my research these children are likely to grow up into sociopaths and that many who are incarcerated suffer from sociopathy.

A friend of mine had a daughter with this disorder so in first becoming aware of it recently, it hit home - I never did quite understand what this friend went through but at one point, she told me that she felt her daughter (who died at the age of 5) had severe brain damage because she was in the lady's birth canal for a couple of days (they should have done a C-section on her).  It was a horribly sad case in which the family was still traumatized by the child years after her death.

In researching this disorder I found that they now know the brain anatomy of a child with "Conduct Disorder" has definite and distinctive characteristics.

According to the article on "Conduct Disorder" in the WIKI:

"Beyond difficulties in executive function, youth with conduct disorder may also demonstrate differences in brain anatomy and function. Compared to normal controls, youths with early and adolescent onset of conduct disorder displayed reduced responses in brain regions associated with antisocial behavior (i.e., amygdala, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, insula, and orbitofrontal cortex). In addition, youths with conduct disorder also demonstrated less responsiveness in the orbitofrontal regions of the brain during a stimulus-reinforcement and reward task. This provides a neural explanation for why youths with conduct disorder may be more likely to repeat poor decision making patterns. Lastly, youths with conduct disorder display a reduction in grey matter volume in the amygdala, which may account for the fear conditioning deficits. This reduction has been linked to difficulty processing social emotional stimuli, regardless of the age of onset."

This is apparently a recent DX ... from my research, they only began to identify this disorder in the late 1980's - my friend's child was born in 1960 and died in 1965... and that they still, have no medications for this disorder although some meds may reduce some of the symptoms.

Coincidentally, Two "Law and Order" Shows, which I viewed recently, one made in the mid 1990's and one made around 2002, described Conduct Disorder (CD) and it was the first I had heard of it.  According to the shows, the parents took their children with CD to specialists for years with them not knowing what was wrong with their children and that parallels my friend's attempts to help her daughter with similar non results. 

The lack of empathy - almost a total lack of empathy as described in the article, in children with CD, is something my friend described in her daughter by the way.  My friend said, for example, one time she was so desperate, she just sat down and wept.  Her daughter, then about 3 years old, jumped up and down with a happy look on her face, shouting "Mommy cry, Mommy cry" over and over (total lack of empathy similar to what was described in the articles).​

I guess the take-away from this article is - if you know someone with a child with this disorder, treat her/him kindly for the parents suffer much with these children.  My friend back in the '60's was judged very harshly and blamed for her daughter's misbehavior.  Also, if you know someone with a child like this, perhaps suggest that this might be the problem because there are some modern medications which help the symptoms.

Two articles describing this disorder