Disintegrated Social Engagement Disorder: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Last Update on June 22, 2022 : Published on January 22, 2022
What Is Disinhibited Social Engagement disorder

Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) is a type of both behavior and attachment disorder. To put this disorder simply, it’s when your child is not really attached to anyone and at the same time is over friendly with other people, even with strangers.

Have you ever met the one child who was elated to see you even when you met them for the first time? Upon asking to come along with you, did they agree to go with you without any hesitation? If yes, there is a high chance that the child has disinhibited social engagement disorder.

Let’s get to know more about this ‘too friendly child’ disorder in depth…

What Is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder?


Disinhibited social engagement disorder can be defined as a dis-order in the behavior of a child because of dis-order in the attachment style of the child. DSED is mostly seen in children but in some cases it can be present in adults as well.

Disinhibited social engagement disorder is when your child does not hesitate in having an engagement with a told stranger. They show almost zero attachment to any of their kin and can easily walk away from their safe space if a stranger tells them to.

These children have a persona of a very friendly and outgoing person. They do find it very difficult to form meaningful bonds with anyone. DSED is part of attachment disorder more than a type of behavioral disorder. Even though your child shows behavioral difficulties the root cause is an attachment disorder.

Reactive Attachment Disorder v/s Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED) both are two branches of attachment disorder. Both RAD and DSED are most commonly found in children.

Reactive attachment disorder: children who suffer from a reactive attachment disorder face difficulties in building an emotional bond/attachment with their family or caregivers. Children with RAD fear having conversations/interactions with other people. They also find it difficult to express their feelings.

Disinhibited social engagement disorder: Children who suffer from a disinhibited social engagement disorder have no inhibitions about meeting new people, talking to them, etc. They seem like extroverts. Although their open and friendly behavior does not help them at all in forming any meaningful relationship or bond.

Common ground- both find it difficult to emotionally attach with someone or form a meaningful bond with anyone.

Not so common ground- children with RAD are afraid to talk to strangers and children with DSED are elated and excited to talk to strangers.

Earlier RAD and DSED were diagnosed together under a complete diagnosis of attachment disorder. Only recently both these disorders have been separated because of the difference in both the conditions.

Symptoms Of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder


Did you know, a child as young as 8-10 months can develop disinhibited social engagement disorder?

Here are a few signs and symptoms of disinhibited social engagement disorder that you should look for in your child. If your child displays any two of the following symptoms, they have disinhibited social engagement disorder.

  • They get excited when they meet strangers (usually children are shy or scared of meeting strangers.
  • Too friendly, talkative and appear physically close with strangers
  • Their behavior seems socially unacceptable according to the social norms
  • They walk away with a stranger without any hesitation
  • They will not seek permission to go anywhere, they’ll just walk out with anyone
  • They might seem very impulsive and socially disinhibited

DSM-5 Criteria for Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

A pattern of behavior in which a child actively approaches and interacts with unfamiliar adults and exhibits at least two of the following:

  1. Reduced or absent reticence in approaching and interacting with unfamiliar adults.
  2. Overly familiar verbal or physical behavior (that is not consistent with culturally sanctioned and with age-appropriate social boundaries).
  3. Diminished or absent checking back with adult caregiver after venturing away, even in unfamiliar settings.
  4. Willingness to go off with an unfamiliar adult with little or no hesitation.

Causes Of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

  • Inavailability or absence of caregiver/parents
  • No emotional support available to the child
  • Absence of love and care in a child’s life
  • Child faces neglect and rejection
  • Childhood trauma, physical or emotional abuse
  • Living in a foster care/orphanage

Treatment for Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

Disinhibited social engagement disorder is curable but you will need to help your child get professional help. Attachment disorders can be treated with the help of various therapies. Usually there is no need for any kind of mediation but if your child has any underlying psychological condition, the doctor might suggest some medicine.

Therapies work really well in case of disinhibited social engagement disorder;

That’s all folks!

Disinhibited social engagement disorder can affect your child and the main reason can be lack of love, care and attachment in their early days.

I hope you found this blog informative and interesting. Disinhibited social engagement disorder has quite visible symptoms and the treatment for the same is also available. So take care of children around you and give them the love and care they deserve.

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe.

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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