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Free Content BRIEF REPORT Conduct Disorder as an Adaptive Response to Situational Stress

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This article discusses the behavior of children and adolescents diagnosed with "conduct disorder" in the light of insights gained from bystander studies on situational factors which tend to produce lack of empathetic responding. Violence in the home and psychopathology in the caregiver have been associated with an increased likelihood of the young person's receiving the diagnosis of conduct disorder. Such youth have often been repeatedly exposed to highly stressful situations in which they are helpless. It is suggested that these situational factors contribute significantly to the acquisition of a lack of empathetic responding as a coping strategy. The lack of empathetic responding may not indicate psychopathology, nor an inherent incapacity for such responding, but rather may represent an adaptive response to the realities of the young person's family environment. Some conceptual, ethical, and practice implications are discussed.
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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Lakehead University ThunderBay, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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