PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR
These individuals are usually unaware that difficulties are a
result of their own behaviors. They experience conscious
hostility toward authority figures, but do not connect their own
passive resistant behavior with hostility or resentment. They do
not trust others and they usually tend to be nonassertive and are
intentionally inefficient. They try to get back at others through
agitation. Feelings of hostility are released through others who
become angry and may suffer because of the passive aggressive
personality's inefficiency. The passive aggressive personality is
resistant to demands for adequate performance both in social
circumstances and in the workplace. This pattern usually begins
in early childhood and can occur in various contexts.
Individual's with this disorder have resentment of responsibility
in both work and social spheres and they show this resentment
through the expression of symptoms listed above rather than openly
expressed anger. They tend to use procrastination and
inefficiency and forgetfulness to avoid fulfilling obligations.
Rather than take responsibility for their own actions, they tend
to blame and manipulate others.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS (at least five of the following)
2. Sulks, becomes irritable or becomes very quickly argumentative
3. Tends to work slowly or deliberately do a bad job on tasks
that he or she really does not want to do
4. Protests (unrealistically) that everyone is making
5. "Forgets" obligations
6. Believes that he or she is doing a much better job than others
7. Usually resents useful suggestions from others on how to
become more productive
8. Fails to do his or her share of the work, thereby obstructing
9. Unreasonably criticizes people in positions of authority
10. Cannot seem to accept responsibility or blame for problems
resulting from their poor performance and tend to project this
blame on others
These behaviors are usually not disturbing to the
individual, but to those who interact with him or her. Therapy is
usually not sought, but the client is generally referred for
therapy by family members. Psychological theories suggest that
environmental factors occurring in the very early years of a
child's life contribute to the development of this disorder.
Usually, the child has extreme feelings of rejection or inadequate
nurturing by the mother figure which results in extreme anger.
The child has a fear of expressing this anger toward the parent
figure and, as a result, there is a shifting which results in the
"passive aggressive" behavior. Depression is also common since
there is a shifting back and forth between expressing this anger
toward the parent through passive aggressive behavior which
arouses anger in the parent which is the child's goal and
tendencies toward depression which results from the anger which is
then turned inward on the self. Very often these clients have
difficulty becoming appropriately assertive, however, they may
shift into covert aggressive behaviors when sufficiently angered.
In therapy, clinician's report that kids tend to be very
resistant to change and that other's often complain about
stubbornness, procrastination, and forgetfulness. They do not
appear to be uncomfortable in social situations. Interpersonal
relationships are usually strained. They tend to have difficulty
expressing warm feelings, and also tend to sulk, pout, and even
when they passively acquiesce or conform there is usually unspoken
resentment. In therapy clients often express anxiety and
depression along with low self esteem, lack of self confidence.
They tend to be very dependent and passive. They also tend to
view the world in a negativistic manner or fail to connect their
behavior to other's reactions. They usually complain about others
being unfair and see the world as a hostile, unfair environment.
In therapy, the goals involve:
1. Helping the client learn methods to control anger and anxiety
and express them in an appropriately assertive fashion.
2. To promote effective and more satisfying coping strategies to
cope with environmental stress
3. To help them realize that their behavior does affect how
others react to them and promote the value of effectiveness in
getting things done as a means of reducing their own feeling
of anger and resentment.
4. Promote development of a positive self concept. Very often
these individuals can be helped by complimenting appropriate
behavior rather than criticizing inappropriate behaviors.
5. Help the client resolve feelings of anger and hostility,
particularly toward authority. Very often there may be some
disturbance in childhood in the parent-child relationship
which are still unresolved.
6. The client needs to explore situations that lead to resentment
and hostility, and be helped to understand possible causes.
They also need to discuss their feelings toward authority, and
discuss how these feeling came about. Aid the client in
establishing a possible cause and effect relationship between
their forgetfulness and procrastination to the internal
resentment they feel toward the person making the demands.