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anyone had experience of partner with 'oppositional defiance disorder'??

(36 Posts)
anynamesleft Sun 11-Sep-11 22:46:48


I've been researching child behaviour to try to support my 5yo in managing their emotions and came across 'oppositional defiance disorder' (I've cut and pasted a description of ODD below).

It didn't really fit with my child's behaviour but DID resonate with some of my partner's behaviour which I find difficult to deal with. It's as if when I have expectations of him (in contributing to / participating in things as part of the family) he sees me as an 'authority figure' to which his natural response is to be defiant. It's pretty unremitting and v wearing.

Has anyone had experience of an adult / partner with ODD? Can it be an adult condition? What's the best way of responding to them?

The key behavioural symptoms of ODD are negative, hostile and defiant behaviour. For ODD to be diagnosed, symptoms have to have been present for at least six months and involve four or more of the following:
often loses temper
often argues with adults
often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults? requests or rules
often deliberately annoys people
often blames others for his mistakes or misbehaviour
often touchy or easily annoyed by others
often angry and resentful
often spiteful or vindictive.
To be classified as ODD, the behaviour also has to have caused a significant degree of disturbance to home, social or school life.

How does it cause problems?
For parents, having a child with ODD can be very difficult. ODD children can vary from being mildly oppositional to always being hostile.
A child with ODD will:
deliberately take the most difficult path, eg to say ?no? on principle
enjoy challenging and arguing with people
refuse to do what he?s told.
It's common for a child with ODD to blame everyone else for his problems, and at his worst he can be angry, spiteful and vindictive.
These types of problem behaviours are typically directed towards parents and teachers, plus others in authority. Coping with a consistently disruptive attitude can be extremely frustrating and physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Sun 11-Sep-11 22:48:38

Is your DP like this with other people too, or just with you?

anynamesleft Sun 11-Sep-11 22:58:33

... with others too, he is intellectuallly v bright and not especially tolerant of bosses / employers / the 'system' as he sees it.

anynamesleft Sun 11-Sep-11 23:03:46

.. i'm trying to put my finger on how to describe his behaviour, but it's as if his viewpoint is that the world consists of him and non-him, and even DC and I are in the 'non-him' category!

He can and does do lovely things occasionally and voluntarily, regularly does most of the cooking but the killer seems to be if he's asked or expected to do something.

LeninGrad Sun 11-Sep-11 23:08:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anynamesleft Sun 11-Sep-11 23:23:41

Hi Leningrad, he'd probably nitpick dispute whether there was a problem, disagree with my suggestions, be indignant if they involved him doing something. Or, after the initial dispute go off on a tangent about the generalities of the issue and 'what wrong in society' !!

TastyMuffins Sun 11-Sep-11 23:34:24

I used to go out with someone like this! He would easily get into arguments with waiting staff/shop staff/bus drivers if he took offence to something they said. Also had problems with authority at work. He just hated anyone telling him what to do, if it was phrased in a nice enough way, it was possible to get around it.

I'd love to suggest to him that he had ODD but because of the nature of it, he wouldn't have anyone telling him anything about him.

If he asked 'what can I do about it?' about a situation, that was very frustrating because he didn't actually want to be told what to do. I used to say 'Do you really want me to tell you because that would be telling you what to do?'. Sometimes it seemed he hadn't really thought about it when he asked the question and didn't actually want any suggestions, it was more of a thinking out loud or admitting he didn't know what to do sort of thing.

sonictonic Sun 11-Sep-11 23:38:39

Have you considered Asperger syndrome?

anynamesleft Sun 11-Sep-11 23:54:55

Hi Sonictonic, yes, there's some definite Aspergers' tendencies going on! but it does seem there's more to it than that.

He can be v personable and sociable but it's as if it has to be on his own terms - any requests / expectations seem to prompt an automatic reaction of defiance.

sonictonic Mon 12-Sep-11 00:03:04

Read Tony Attwood and then see what you think. Seeing you as his mum can be part of it.

anynamesleft Mon 12-Sep-11 00:06:59

Thanks sonic - I'll take a look at Attwood, although the thought of DP relating to me as his mum is a bit scary it does strike a bit of a chord in the general woman-ending-up-organising-the-family kind of way smile

anynamesleft Mon 12-Sep-11 00:18:50

... I'm heading for bed but for the sake of my sanity I really am v interested in anyone's comments / thoughts / ideas / suggestions / advice on this one so please don't take a lack of instant response as a lack of interest!

sonictonic Mon 12-Sep-11 05:32:54

"Woman-ending-up-organising-the-family" - pretty inevitable with Aspergers, AFAIK. Does dp accept that he has Asperger traits? I'm in a similar situation, and mine doesn't.

nooka Mon 12-Sep-11 06:02:01

I don't know any adults with ODD, but my friend's little boy was diagnosed with this a few years ago. I'm no longer in touch (I moved) but he was a very unhappy and difficult little boy, and his behaviour caused him to be physically aggressive to his mother and little sister (to the extent that he had to be watched most of the time) and he was also very withdrawn at school. They had a lot of support (specialist mental health services etc). He might have been an extreme case, but I think if your dh did have ODD he would probably have had a difficult childhood and have had problems at school or later at work (this is one of the diagnostic criteria as you note).

However ODD is on the autistic spectrum (I've seen it described as a consequence of AS too) so those with Aspergers for example might well have some oppositional traits. Aspergers does seem to go under the radar more and so be diagnosed in adulthood sometimes - the dad of the little boy with ODD was only diagnosed as having Aspergers when they were receiving family therapy.

EricNorthmansMistress Mon 12-Sep-11 07:36:52

I know someone with AS and ODD and your H sounds quite similar in his behaviours. If he does have them I'd struggle to see how you can have a fulfilling relationship with him TBH, it must be constantly exhausting sad

taokiddy Mon 12-Sep-11 08:02:15

Sounds v much like my exDP. Asking him to empty the dishwasher/ put washing on/ help tidy etc was me just 'having a go at him'. I tried various communication techniques, humour, crying, everything really but if it was me asking him for something he just couldn't bear it. It was like it was too much pressure for him. He was the same with his mother. He was unable to take responsibility for ANYTHING from finances, me, the house, the DCs to knocking a drink over (my fault because I moved this and then it made him do that and then his drink 'got knocked over'!)
He's an incredibly defensive/ competitive/ argumentative person generally. eg. if we travelled somewhere to meet up with family/ friends and someone asked how long it took us, I'd say the real journey time and he'd invariably say 'no it wasn't' and knock half an hour off! why?! He couldn't bear working for other people either so set up on his own where he was able to feel very self important and in control.
I think in part is due to his upbringing but there's definitely Asperger type stuff going on with his whole family too. None of them are able to empathise and are all very self absorbed.
Incredibly hard to live with someone like that. i couldn't but good luck to you!

anynamesleft Mon 12-Sep-11 22:33:39

Hi sonictonic, yes, he will joke about autistic tendencies and does have some self-awareness but it seems to be a big leap from there to feeling there's a need to do something about it and then doing it.

What I find hard to get my head around is that he CAN function socially v well - he needs to for his line of work and is v good at it. Even outside of work he can socialise well, which makes it feel as if it's something he's choosing not to do at home rather than not being able to.

Anyone found any strategies / tactics that work well in this sort of situation?????

MooncupGoddess Mon 12-Sep-11 22:47:16

Is he, perhaps, just a narcissistic twat?

<sorry, perhaps not v. helpful>

anynamesleft Mon 12-Sep-11 22:58:06

Mooncupgoddess ... sometimes it's tempting to think so!! smile but I know he does have real issues with dyslexia (which affect planning / memory / organising as well as the obvious literacy stuff) and am wondering if this is another associated trait.

Rereading the thread I've realised I've only commented on the behaviours that are frustrating me - if that's all there was to him he would be an unremitting b*****d, he does have many good qualities it's just that when something is this frustrating it ends up being the thing you focus on.

trulyscrumptious43 Mon 12-Sep-11 23:09:42

OMG yes! I can't believe that someone else has this too! 14yr old DS has been difficult from toddler age and I have always wondered what I am doing wrong. He fits the profile you describe so well, anynamesleft.
My DD and I have brought him up - she is only 5 yrs older than him but because of DS's character she has supported and helped me wherever possible (we're a single parent household). We despair of him being able to operate in the real world, and school is just a joke. (Except for D&T, which he likes as long as no writing is involved).
And taokiddy - DS's dad is just like your ex. Competitive dad (I think part of the reason DS doesn't want to see him), and bullying, overbearing, can't bear to be wrong/asked to do anything. Could never work in a team as empathy doesn't enter his psychological makeup.
In fact empathy (lack of) has a lot to do with it I think. Although DS is vegetarian and can't bear it if I step on an ant, and cried at a Ray Mears DVD this weekend where wolves hunted elks.

HereIGo Mon 12-Sep-11 23:34:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

anynamesleft Mon 12-Sep-11 23:40:24

Hi HereIGo - that's the dilemna - I think there are some 'additional challenges' contributing to his behaviour but I'm struggling to find ways of engaging that get a positive response and don't just press his buttons and lead to more defiance.

Any advice on resources to help people in dealing with someone with ASD / conduct disorder???

alittlebitresignedtoitall Mon 12-Sep-11 23:55:21

Sounds as if my 76 year old mother has it!

HereIGo Tue 13-Sep-11 00:02:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbutty Tue 13-Sep-11 01:21:49

When you have a child displaying a behavioural disorder, you try to identify it because this will help you to assist the child in becoming more at ease in her social surroundings, maximise her talents and manage her problems, and so forth. As adults, it's our responsibility to help children grow up to function as well as possible in the world. It is important to do this, because children who have such problems, if not adequately helped, can become dysfunctional adults with a tendency to cause social damage.

Once that person has become an adult, the pattern is set. It's impossible to make them change, and unlikely they will effect much change in themselves.

A diagnosis of ODD can be very helpful to your child but is totally pointless where your H is concerned. He might have an ASD, a PD or simply be a selfish, stroppy git. But he's not a five-year-old. You've tried reasonable, adult discussion and it doesn't work. Therefore he is not a reasonable adult. Sorry.

Has it occurred to you that DC might be aping DP?

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