Matthew Cohen, MSW

Matthew Cohen, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Does Congress Have A Personality Disorder?

Nothing is more fun than taking the criteria for mental disorders and applying them to institutions. Given the recent dysfunction in Congress over the Fiscal Cliff and Sandy relief,  I decided to take their recent behavior and dust off my trusty DSM-IV. My first instinct was some sort of personality disorder, and there could be an argument for anti-social tendencies. I will let you be there judge.

A. There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.

2. Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.

3. Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead.

4. Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.

5. Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.

6. Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.

7. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

B. The individual is at least age 18 years of age.

C. There is evidence of Conduct Disorder with onset before age 15.

D. The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia or a manic episode.

Now It seems we have hit our mark, especially with reckless disregard for safety of others, irresponsibility, and failure to plan ahead, but what about criteria C, conduct disorder before age 15? Well I started thinking that  there might be a history of Oppositional Defiant Disorder somewhere in there.

A. A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

(1) often loses temper
(2) often argues with adults
(3) often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults’ requests or rules
(4) often deliberately annoys people
(5) often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
(6) is often touchy or easily annoyed by others
(7) is often angry and resentful
(8) is often spiteful or vindictive
Note: Consider a criterion met only if the behavior occurs more frequently than is typically observed in individuals of comparable age and developmental level.

B. The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.

C. The behaviors do not occur exclusively during the course of a Psychotic or Mood Disorder.


Now the picture is becoming clear. Loses temper, check. Argues with adults, check. Blames other for mistakes, check. Often angry, check. Spiteful or vindictive, check. So there you have it. I want to make it clear that this an evaluation of Congress as a whole and not one individual party. Please give your own diagnosis and share your thoughts!

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