"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, 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.
"No young child can be a brat anymore," he says. "Now, what right do we have to do that?"
The stories are rare, but they are out there.
A successful lawyer -- a husband and father of two, active in his community -- disappears, only to be found six months later, living in a different city under a new name in a homeless shelter.
A man without an identity walks into a hospital, saying he woke up on the street with no wallet or identification, and says he has no idea who he is. His family locates him two weeks later, after which he returns to normal.
Such cases are examples of dissociative fugue state. In these cases, an individual will disappear, leaving everything behind -- including their memories and identity. In some cases, the sufferer even assumes a new identity, which persists until they are reunited with their old surroundings and allowed to return to their old persona.
Few psychological disorders have attracted such wonder from the public -- and sparked so much debate among experts in the field. Nowadays, most psychological experts agree that such cases are not simply about individuals running away from their problems, but, rather, a legitimate condition.
"The thing that people experience as 'fugue state' does happen," Ongur says. "There are people who wake up in other cities and don't know what has happened."