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Externalizing Behaviors

People respond to challenges in a variety of ways. Some people direct emotional problems outward into externalizing behaviors. People with externalizing problems express their negative reactions to life’s pressures with behavior that generates discomfort and conflict in the surrounding environment. Conversely, people with internalizing problems direct their negative reactions to life’s pressures inward in ways that cause distress. As a clinical term, externalizing disorders is applied to a cluster of disorders (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], oppositional defiant disorder [ODD], and conduct disorder [CD]) with prominent issues related to impulsiveness and decreased self-regulation, disruptive conduct, and substance use symptoms. Externalizing behaviors manifest as behaviors that disregard social norms, generate discomfort and distress in others, and upset the environment. Externalizing behaviors are common and reported across a ...

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