You've Got What? Curious Conditions, Debated Diagnoses

If you're like most people, none of these situations poses a real threat to your daily routine. But take any of these situations and imagine them magnified exponentially. Suddenly, you're dealing with Sibling Rivalry Disorder, Mathematics Disorder or one of any number of Caffeine-Related Disorders.

Like some of the other diagnoses on this list, these conditions appear in one form or another in the DSM. And Kupfer says there is a good reason for including them; specifically, he says these collections of symptoms can often cause a certain level of personal distress or impairment -- the very definition of a disorder.

"In a way, what we are looking for is to diagnose things reliably to allow individuals to seek treatment," Kupfer says.

With regard to Sibling Rivalry Disorder, treatment can mean counseling that could solve family problems or prevent future psychological conditions. Teaching someone to cope with caffeine abuse may save them from sleep-related problems. It is in these situations, Kupfer says, that labeling such conditions as disorders is helpful.

But Hadler cautions that labeling can also have its downsides.

"A label will always change your self perception," he says. "Sometimes it elicits a positive change, sometimes a negative one."

And as far as Mathematics Disorder goes, most are skeptical that receiving such a diagnosis will get you much pity from your teachers.

"Would anybody actually say, 'I have math disorder and I'm getting treatment, and that's why I'm not successful'?" asks Dr. Dost Ongur, clinical director of the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder program at Harvard University's McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. "No, you would never get something like that. Math disorder is not like diabetes."

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD for short, is a diagnosis that is applied to children who display such frequent and aggressive defiance of their parents that it disrupts the lives of those within the family.

According to the Mayo Clinic Web site, as many as one in 10 children may have oppositional defiant disorder in a lifetime, and it is often associated with other childhood behavioral disorders, such as ADD.

Galynker says the roots of this disorder are most likely genetic; aggression, he says, is one of the most highly inherited qualities. And genetic links to the kind of aggression seen in children with ODD have been proven in twin studies. Based on this, he says, ODD is likely a very real disorder.

"It's their internal characteristic to argue with their parents," he says. "Some deal better with this, while others deal worse."

An official diagnosis of ODD would likely be met first with counseling, and later with medications to help control a child's behavior. Parents may also receive counseling in order to learn more about how to control their children's behavior.

But many would argue that the blame should be more squarely placed on nurture than nature -- in order words, that parenting styles are more likely to be responsible for this disorder than genes. Ongur says it is little surprise that this may be the commonly held perception.

"For these disorders, I think it makes sense for the lay person to have that kind of reaction -- not because they are fake disorders, but because of the way it plays out in society," he notes.

Hadler, however, has a different take -- that ODD is yet another example of the medicalization of commonly seen behavior.

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