Doing the Opposite of What You Say. Is This Any Kind of Disorder?

NOV 16, 2022 AT 01:36 AM


We've all been there. You say you're going to do one thing, but then you end up doing the opposite. It's frustrating. But what if this happened all the time? What if you found yourself constantly doing the opposite of what you said you would do? Would that be cause for concern?

In short, yes. This behavior pattern indicates a bigger problem known as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). ODD is a type of conduct disorder that is characterized by a pattern of defiant and disobedient behavior. If left untreated, ODD can lead to serious consequences, both in terms of your personal life and your professional life.

Here's a closer look at why ODD is extremely risky and what you can do to get help.


What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

ODD is a mental health disorder that affects approximately 16 percent of school-aged children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). ODD symptoms typically emerge during early childhood and may include:

  • Arguing with adults
  • Deliberately doing things to annoy or upset others
  • Being touchy or easily annoyed by others
  • Being angry and resentful 

These are just some of the common signs and symptoms of ODD. If you suffer from this disorder, you may find it difficult to follow instructions at work or home. You may also have difficulty making friends and maintaining long-term relationships. As troubling as these signs and symptoms are, remember that everyone exhibits these behaviors from time to time. The key is distinguishing normal defiance from a more serious problem.

Also, remember that ODD is a disorder that affects both boys and girls equally. However, if you're experiencing many of these symptoms at an early age (such as before seven years old), you should seek help.

Having ODD doesn't mean that you're a bad person. It's important to remember that ODD is a real mental health disorder that requires treatment. Without treatment, ODD can lead to serious consequences, such as: 

  • Poor performance in school
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Substance abuse
  • The trouble with the law
  • Mental health conditions like depression or anxiety

If you suspect that you or someone you know has ODD, it's important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you or your loved one identify the underlying causes of ODD and develop coping mechanisms to deal with the symptoms. Treatments make it possible to live a happy and healthy life despite ODD.

Why Does Oppositional Defiant Disorder Happen?

We're still learning why people develop oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), but we know it's not caused by parenting style or family environment. Parents of children with the disorder are usually very supportive and involved in their child's life.

That being said, children with ODD often have other disorders as well, including the following: ADHD, autism, spectrum disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and dysthymia (chronic depression).

How Does Oppositional Defiant Disorder Affect Parents and Children?

Parents of children with ODD often suffer from chronic stress due to their battles at home. These parents tend to be very loving and involved in their child's life but still struggle to get them to comply with instructions and rules. The stress can even lead to parents divorcing, which is terrible for everyone involved.

Teachers of students with ODD also suffer from the difficulties these children cause in the classroom. They often have to enforce strict discipline policies in class because otherwise, the student with ODD will cause problems for the other students. This can lead to teachers feeling like they're being harsh on all their students because of one student with ODD.

But what about the children themselves? They also suffer greatly, as they constantly feel criticized by their parents and teachers. They also face much rejection by their peers, who can never be sure if the child with ODD is about to bully them or become their friend.

The children also feel a lot of frustration and anger, which they may express violently. In extreme cases, children with ODD may even contemplate suicide. It is a severe disorder that needs to be addressed by parents, teachers, and children themselves.

What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Experts do not fully understand what causes ODD, but they have identified some factors that make children more likely to develop it. These factors include:

  • Genetics:Having a parent or parent-like figure with ODD increases your chances of developing the disorder. Conversely, being raised in an abusive household also increases your chances of developing the disorder.
  • Baby temperament: Children with easy temperaments are more likely to develop ODD as they age.
  • Parenting style: Children who are harshly disciplined are more likely to develop ODD. 
  • Family structure: Children who live with single parents or are adopted are more likely to develop ODD.
  • Stress: Children who experience tough life situations, like losing a loved one or going through a move to a new home, are at a higher risk of developing ODD.

Although other factors may contribute to the emergence of ODD, these are some of the most common. Parents, teachers, and children can identify which factors apply to them and work to address them to improve the well-being of those affected by ODD.

ODD Diagnosis

It's easy to think that every defiant child has ODD or that every defiant child is just being defiant. But if you feel like your child frequently challenges your authority or the authority of others, especially when other children don't, it could be a sign of ODD.

While the exact cause of ODD is unknown, it is believed to arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Diagnosis typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. If you suspect that your child may have ODD, it is important to seek professional help. With treatment, most children with ODD can learn to manage their symptoms and lead happy and successful lives. 

How to Care for those who have ODD?

Sometimes children with ODD are easy to spot. But sometimes they aren't. Sometimes their ODD-like behaviors are hidden behind a mask of niceness. So it's always better to be cautious and assume that someone might be affected by ODD.

Even if you don't feel like you're able to talk to the person directly (for example, because the person is a teacher and you're a child), you can ask them questions in a non-threatening way, such as "Do you feel like people rarely give you enough respect?" or "Do you feel that people are often unkind to you?" Then, if their answers match the symptoms of ODD, you can suggest getting help from a professional.

Children and adults with ODD often need professional help to improve their behavior and relationships. A psychologist or psychiatrist can diagnose ODD and recommend treatment. Treatment usually involves therapy and sometimes medication.


This blog post provides an overview of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), a mental illness distinguished by a pattern of defiant and disobedient behavior. If left untreated, ODD can lead to serious consequences, such as poor performance in school, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, trouble with the law, or mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

People with ODD are often successful and even brilliant. They can accomplish great things in the world — if they can learn to control their impulses and find ways to relax their relentless thoughts.

If you or a loved one is struggling with ODD, remember that it's a real disorder. You are not just a bad person. With support and understanding, people with ODD can learn to control their impulses, feel more comfortable around others, and reduce their feelings of anger and depression.