Conduct Disorder is a serious behavioral and emotional disorder that is common in children and teens. A child with this disorder normally demonstrates streaks of violent behavior and has a hard time being disciplined. The symptoms vary from aggressive behavior, destructive behavior, deceitful behavior, and violation of rules. Once a child shows signs of conduct disorder he or she is taken to a doctor to be diagnosed, but each individual shows different symptoms of the disorder. Most children with the disorder come across as very innocent when in reality they are doing horrible, inhumane things. This is the case for young Henry Evans in the movie The Good Son. He not only has aggression towards people and animals but also destructs property while lying, stealing and being deceitful.
DSM Multi-Axial Model
Subject: Henry Evans
Axis I: Clinical Disorders & Childhood Mental Illnesses
Axis II: Personality Disorders & Mental Retardation
Axis III: General Medical Concerns
Axis IV: Environmental Influences
Axis V: Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF Scale – Rating of 1-100) N/A
Conduct disorder is sometimes overlooked by parents of the child because it is so natural for the child to act blameless around his or her parents and display destructive behavior behind their backs. In the movie The Good Son this is the case for Henry. He come across as the perfect son to his parents, but his cousin, Mark, sees the real him while they are out all day playing around town. When Mark tries to explain to his aunt and uncle that Henry is doing horrible things they ignore the thoughts and do not believe him.
Aggression to People and Animals
Henry bullies his cousin Mark by forcing him to do things he does not always think are right. This is even demonstrated the first night Mark was at Henrys house, by repeatedly kicking him under the table. Also another clear demonstration is when Henry lunges his sister into thin ice with attempts of killing her. He was not successful in murdering his sister; however he was successful in murdering his little brother while in the bath tub. This was not made clear until the end of the movie.
Henry intentionally kills a dog with a weapon he had made on his own. It was not your average bow and arrow, but one that shot out steal bolts. This was not his first encounter with hurting animals, however, for he also tries killing a cat earlier in the movie, yet fails. Most child psychopaths are brilliant, which accounts for how Henry was able to make his own weapons.
Susan, who is Henrys mother, never thought her son had the capability to hurt anything or anyone. She was so caught up on the death of her youngest son that she never was able to make the connection that Henry killed him. It was not until she finally went to check out Henrys work shed that she found all his weapons and graphic dolls. Amongst these things was a rubber duck that had been in the bathtub with her fallen son at the time he had passed. She then realized Henry had done it. When she approaches Henry about the situation he lures her to the top of a mountain and tries tackling her off. He was unsuccessful in his murder attempt, and he actually ends up dying.
Destruction of Property
Henry is cleverer than most children his age. He conceives a plan to sew together a life size doll that he will throw off of a bridge over a highway. He brings his cousin along, not telling him the true plan he has in mind. He knows that Mark actually has a conscious, unlike himself, thus he leaves him with the idea that “it will be like nothing he’s ever seen before.” They carried the doll to the bridge where Henry waits for the perfect opportunity to launch it. He notices an RV coming and then throws the doll. This causes the RV to swerve, falling over, making a huge jam of flipping cars. Luckily no one is hurt, which bothered Henry, but he still left the scene smirking and in utter disbelief that his plan worked so perfectly.
Henry loves destroying things and a warehouse near his home is the perfect spot to get some anger out. He often takes rocks or other small objects and throws them, smashing the windows of this warehouse. After doing all these things, Henry never feels guilty or bad about anything he does, which is an extremely common trait from children with conduct disorder since they have no remorse. His cousin, Mark, who he often takes with him on these journeys, is very much different, although he did have some fun destroying the windows.
Deceitfulness, Lying, or Stealing
Activities in the Shed
Being deceitful and lying are two of the main symptoms that a child with conduct disorder possesses. Henry entails these symptoms by never telling his parents where he is going. “It’s top secret” he says. For example the shed that he always seems to be in. The parents never question what he does in there, when he really is making weapons, hanging dolls from nooses, and conducting terrible plans. He even steals his deceased baby brother’s rubber duck that his mom has been looking and longing for. When finally his mother goes too look in the shed she finds it and tries to take it back from him. Henry begins throwing a fit and runs from his mother into the woods.
Like any parent, losing a child is an absolute nightmare. For Henry’s mother, this nightmare is real life. She cannot grasp the fact that Richard is gone and that she believes it is her fault. His room was never changed and remained exactly as he left it. While Mark was staying over, Henry made it out that he wanted to stay in there. Mark had no intentions on doing so; however Henry wanted him to look like the bad guy. Henry tells his mother of Marks apparent motives and she runs out of the room crying. He just wanted to instill pain, just for a little while. He constantly reminds her of Richard, knowing it kills her inside.
Dr. Davenport is assigned to counsel Mark through his mother passing. Mark doesn’t like talking about the situation because it only causes him pain. He never truly opens up to her until he finally feels he needs to tell about his cousin’s heinous crimes. When he finally gets to her office, Henry is already there turning the tables on Mark. He tells of everything that he did, but says Mark had done it. He states “what he does scare me, but I don’t want to tell you because he’s my friend.” A very deceitful thing to do, making Mark feel more alone then he did before, because no one seems to believe him.
When a freak accident happens, most people like to have closure. Henry’s mom, Susan, needed this closure after the death of her son, Richard. This closure would be possible with the finding of a rubber duck that had been in the bathtub with him at the time of his death. She had longed for this duck, but could not find it. The reason was simple, Henry stole it. He had hidden it in his shed and finally, many months later, the mom finds it. He then uses it to lure the mom and attempt to kill her.