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Is Conduct Disorder A Personality Disorder?

Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that can occur in children and teenagers. It is represented by the frequent and repetitive appearance of hostile, disruptive, violent, or cruel behavior of the child. Personality disorders are chronic patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differ significantly from what is expected. It is the pattern of experience and behavior that typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It interferes with one’s participation in society, school, work, or society. Without treatment, personality disorders can continue for a long time.

Is Conduct Disorder A Personality Disorder?

Conduct disorder is a mental condition represented by a behavioral pattern of breaking of age-appropriate social norms and rules by the affected child. It typically affects children and adolescents. Untreated or complicated Oppositional Defiant disorder develops into conduct disorder. It is considered a disruptive behavior disorder and one of the most common psychological disorders to be diagnosed in people of young age. Its symptoms include the cruel and violent behavior of the child towards others. These behaviors are often expressed towards pets and other animals. They are often destructive, damaging, and breaking property.(1)

Conduct disorder is consistent and repetitive that frequently occurs rather than occasional outbursts. Its impact is serious enough to interfere with the education, family life, and social life of the child.(1)

Conduct disorder can occur in children below the age of 10 years in the teenage. Its incidence is more prevalent in boys than girls. Clinical studies state that 25% of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to develop conduct disorder. Around 45 percent of teenagers with ADHD display conduct disorder behaviors. A child or adolescent with the condition requires proper diagnosis and medical treatment. A child with this disorder may exhibit a pattern of disruptive and violent behavior and have problems complying with the rules.(2)

It is common for children and teenagers to have behavior-related issues at some time during their development. However, it is diagnosed as a conduct disorder when it is chronic and when it interferes with the rights of others, goes against accepted norms of behavior, and disrupts the everyday life of the child and the whole family.(2)

Personality disorders symbolize a group of mental health conditions characterized by fixed and non-healthy patterns of one’s thoughts, feeling, and behavior. These inner experiences and behaviors are contrary to the expectations of the culture or society one belongs to. People who have developed personality disorders usually face problems dealing with the expectations of their cultural group. They cannot detect abnormality in their thoughts and behavior. However, their vision of the world is quite different from others. For this reason, they avoid participating in social, educational, and family activities. They blame others for their challenges.(3)

The cause of personality disorders is unclear. Scientists believe that genetic, environmental influences and childhood trauma are some of its risk factors that can trigger this disorder. The incidences of Personality disorders are seen in the teenage years or early adulthood. Personality disorders are classified into ten specific types. The symptoms may be manifested according to their specific type of personality disorder. Treatment typically includes talk therapy and medication.(3)

A mental health professional evaluates the symptoms of a personality disorder after precise and observation of long-term patterns of function and symptoms of the child.

Diagnosis is usually observed in individuals age 18 years or more. People under 18 typically often remain undiagnosed with personality disorders as their personalities are in the stages of development. Some people with personality disorders may not even know that it is a problem.(4)

Thus, Conduct disorder is not a personality disorder. It is a behavioral disorder.


Conduct disorder is a behavioral disorder represented by the frequent appearance of disobedience, violence, and disruptive behavior of children against social rules and norms. A personality disorder is mental conditions characterized by abnormal behavior inappropriate to the cultural practices of the affected person. Conduct disorder is not a personality disorder.


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 16, 2020

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