Mike Adams

I have a former student who has found the perfect job. She’s working with troubled youths in a faith-based program that allows her to finally put her psychology degree to use – a full eight years after she graduated from college. She likes the job, but she called my office recently to vent about a boy who suffers from Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD).

I have a B.A. and an M.S. in psychology. But I must confess that I needed some explanation of ODD because it wasn’t yet a disorder when I studied psychology back in the 1980s. So I asked my former student simply to describe the behavior of the boy with ODD. The conversation went something like this:

Erica (not real name): He is constantly pitching a fit over nothing – or nearly nothing. He argues with everything I say and there is no such thing as a rule he does not question.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, he has ODD. I mean, he actively defies and refuses to comply with every request made by every adult. I mean that literally. And he does it just to annoy us and to upset us. But he won’t take responsibility for his behavior or his mistakes. It’s never his fault.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, I said he has ODD. He’s also easily annoyed by other people. And he’s full of resentment and anger.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: No, there’s more to it than that. I know he has ODD because of the hateful words he uses when he’s upset. He is just so spiteful and so bent on gaining revenge against anyone he thinks has wronged him.

Me: So, in other words, the boy is a jerk.

Erica: I guess you’re right. He is a jerk.

The exchange with Erica was funny and we both eventually laughed about the absurdity of the whole idea of ODD. But the current trend towards viewing all undesirable behavior as symptomatic of a disorder to be treated, as opposed to a wrong to be punished, is no laughing matter.

There are a number of problems associated with redefining all undesirable forms of behavior as “disorders” to be cured. Among them is the unanticipated consequence of depriving man of his humanity. If a man is merely a victim of some disease then he cannot really be considered evil. If he has no potential to be evil, he has no potential to be good.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.