47 Conduct Disorder

Name: Nelson Muntz

Source: The Simpsons (Television series, 1989 – present)

Background Information

Nelson Muntz is a 10 year old Caucasian boy who is a student at Springfield Elementary School. Nelson is unemployed and although he is a full-time student, he is on the verge of dropping out. His health appears to be in good condition, but there was a time when he was exposed to second hand smoking. Other than that, the patient does not seem to have any physical illness. However, some problems that are observed are how he behaves towards his peers and others. Nelson is feared by many of his classmates and peers. He is known to pick fights with the “nerds” and other kids that get in his way. Nelson is known by the community as the “bad kid on the block” and “the school bully.” Parents of other students, as well as school faculty, see him as a delinquent. Nelson’s family consists of his father, Mr. Muntz, mother, Mrs. Muntz, grandfather, Judge Muntz, and a sister who is unnamed. Little is known about the relationship between his parents as well as his relationship with them. Currently he lives with his mom, who works at Hooters as a waitress. His father is mostly absent in his life and as the story goes, Mr. Muntz abandoned his son and wife when Nelson was really young. However, there were few times in Nelsons’ life where his father does appear, such as after a football game where Nelson was the star player. Mr. Muntz came to congratulate him and invited him to have dinner at Hooters, but Nelson refused because he did not want to see his mother working there. Mrs. Muntz is known in the community as a jailbird, a prostitute, and a stripper. Mrs. Marge Simpson adopts Nelson informally. Nelson has difficulties in school when it comes to keeping up with his grades. Although he is known as a bully, there are occasions where his good nature comes out and befriends Bart Simpson and even dated Lisa Simpson. Nelson can be very disruptive and noncompliant to rules at school. He hangs out with older kids from high school, who also show no interest in education. Nelson has very little in the way of a support group, and keeping a friendship is difficult for him. Nelson can be very demanding and if he does not get what he seeks, then there will be consequences to those who get in his way. He enjoys seeing the misery of others and in many situations will laugh at their face. Nelson does not have very strong coping skills, if not any. He expresses his emotions physically by beating up someone and or by committing pranks and small crimes. There is no known history of drug or alcohol use.

Description of the Problem

Nelson Muntz displays a multitude of symptoms that are associated with Conduct Disorder. He displays anger and frustration through the act of bullying his peers. He shows no respect to authority figures and is disobedient towards them. He places no importance on school and constantly picks on the nerds and geeks that attend his school. He performs delinquent acts such as stealing, looting, vandalizing, and cheating. Nelson has made threats to other students and physically harmed them. For example, when one of his buddies stole Lisa Simpson’s cupcakes, her brother went to defend her by telling Nelson’s buddy to back off and soon they engage in a physical fight. Nelson, seeing Bart Simpson fighting his buddy, joins in the fight to defend his friend. Bart accidently makes Nelson’s nose bleed causing Nelson to become angrier. The fight was interrupted by the school bell indicating recess was over and it was time to go back to class. Nelson, full of anger, threatens Bart and tells him to meet after school. For the next few days, after school, Nelson physically beats Bart, shoves him into a trash can and rolls him down a hill. At one point or another, Nelson has terrorized virtually everyone in Springfield. He takes great pride in seeing those he believes to be inferior to him suffer pain and is in misery; he delights in other people’s pain and suffering. He shows guilt or shame about his misbehavior and often justifies his cruel actions. His close friends, who are just like him, only encourage his behavior and his parents show no concern or interest in their son’s behavior.
The diagnosis that is appropriate for Nelson Muntz is Conduct Disorder (312.81).
A. A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules that are violated, as manifested by the presences of three (or more) of the following criteria in the past 12 months, with at least one criterion present in the past 6 months.

  1. Aggressive conduct that threatens physical harm.
  2. Nonaggressive conduct that causes property damage.
  3. Deceitfulness or theft.
  4. Serious violations of rules.

Nelson Muntz meets all three of the above criteria. His aggression has led to physical harm to others as well as to him. He has been involved in vandalism and property damage due to recklessness. He has bullied his way into getting things that are not his. He has broken many state and school laws as well as showing no obedience to authority figures.
B. To the diagnosed with Conduct Disorder an onset of at least one criterion characteristic must be displayed prior to age 10 years:
Aggression to People and Animals:

  1. Often bullies, threatens, or intimidates others.
  2. Often initiates physical fights.
  3. Has used a weapon that can cause serious physical harm to others.
    1. A bat, brick, broken bottle, knife, gun
  4. Has been physically cruel to people.
  5. Has been physically cruel to animals.
  6. Has stolen while confronting a victim.
    1. Mugging, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery
  7. Has forced someone into sexual activity.

Nelson Muntz has displayed more than one of these symptoms of Conduct Disorder prior to age 10 and currently still does. These symptoms are described above under the headline “Description of the Problem.”
C. The disturbance in behavior causes clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning.
Nelson Muntz has no interest in school and often he is found to cheat on his assignments and exams.
D. If the individual is age 18 years or older, criteria are not met for Antisocial Personality Disorder.
Nelson Muntz is only 10 years old.

Accuracy of Portrayal

An average person watching The Simpsons would be able to come to conclusion that the character Nelson Muntz shows abnormal behaviors when compared to his peers. They will notice that his lack of a stable home does have a huge role in his delinquent behaviors. A person with an Abnormal Psychology background could easily identify Nelson’s behaviors are symptoms of Conduct Disorder. The character Nelson Muntz is an accurate portrayal of how a child with Conduct Disorder behaves and acts towards others. However, in the realistic world, such symptoms are worse.


Nelson Muntz should have a full medical examination before any treatments are given. First, Nelson’s parents should be educated about the disorder as well as provided with well-established treatments. Nelson’s behaviors should be modified in the class rooms as well as the play grounds. Treatments such as goal setting and developing ways to reach those goals should be taught to Nelson on a one-to-one basses. Nelson’s parents need to be more involved in his life, and therefore family therapy is recommended. According to research, the optimum method seems to be an integrated approach that involves both the child and the family, within a variety of contexts throughout the child’s developmental stages as well as his and his family’s life. Also, when Nelson misbehaves, he should have some sort of consequences for his actions instead of encouraging his behavior, therefore, grounding or timeout should be enforced.


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