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What are main criteria for diagnosing sociopathic behavior?

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Quick Answer

The main criteria for diagnosing sociopathic behavior includes a variety of behavioral traits, such as social charm, lack of empathy, deviant behavior starting at age 13, irresponsibility and limited emotions. Psychologists determine sociopathic behavior, also called psychotic behavior, with a checklist of approximately 20 qualifying factors. Diagnosing sociopathic behavior includes evaluating the personal characteristics of individuals as well as their relationships to others.

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Full Answer

Sociopaths typically display charm, wit and an inflated sense of self-worth. They might act smooth and charming, disguising a lack of empathy with confidence, wit and humor. Sociopaths do not display hesitance or reservation in social situations, and appear conceited, fearless and self-assured.

Sociopaths exhibit certain behavior characteristics, but do not present with symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, fantasies and irrational thinking, according to Psychology Today. They often participate in risky or deviant behavior, such as cheating, lying and harming others. Although displaying self-confidence, sociopaths lack the ability to focus and remain consistent. They might fail to complete tasks and assignments, deeming them trivial and unexciting.

Sociopaths typically do not have self-identities, and never set long-term goals or life plans. They might display lack of financial independence, and enjoy manipulating, deceiving and harming others. Sociopaths might show a lack of remorse and shame, and jump from one marriage to the next, displaying an inability for forming and maintaining personal relationships.

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