Chapter 12- Emotions and mental health in childhood
The case of Peter
-Peter, 11 has problems at school. Has conduct disorder, screams at everyone, is rude and
defiant. Steals money hits his sisters and fights with people at school.
Classifying childhood disorder
-Diagnoses are descriptions of patterns of behaviour. The study of abnormal functioning is
known as psychopathology.
-The main scheme used to diagnose psychiatric problems of adults and children in North
America is the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (DSM-IV)
-Another way of conceptualizing emotional disorders often preferred by psychologists is to
accept that there are no sharp distinctions between having and not having a disorder.
There is a continuum. The method of assessment here involves checklists of symptoms or
behaviour patterns and sometimes questionnaires.
-In middle childhood 2 types of disorders become important: externalizing disorders –
defined by anger, hostility, aggression, stealing, and lying, and internalizing disorders
which include anxiety and depression with tendencies to withdraw.
How are emotions involved in children’s disorders?
-2 principal emotion-based externalizing disorders of childhood are called oppositional
defiant disorder and conduct disorder.
-The conditions for oppositional defiant disorder is that over a 6 month period the child
frequently displays 4 or more of the following behaviours that lead to impairment of
school or social life- loses temper, argues with adults, defies or refuses adult requests or
rules, does things that will annoy other people, blames others for his mistakes, is touchy
or easily annoyed by others, is angry and resentful, is spiteful or vindictive.
-The criteria for conduct disorder include more seriously antisocial behaviour such as
missing school before age 13, stealing, fire-setting, sexual assault, physical fights, cruelty
to people or animals and use of weapons.
-As to internalizing disorders the 2 main are anxiety and depression. Anxiety disorders are
fears that are abnormal in intensity, duration, and how they are elicited. One disabling
syndrome is is overanxious disorder in which there is excessive or unrealistic anxiety or