PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITY

A personality trait disturbance characterized by immaturity and failure to develop an adequate balance between dependence and independence, and between aggressiveness and submissiveness.This failure may be exhibited in three ways. In the passive-dependent reaction type, the individual is timid, helpless, and totally lacking in self-confidence. He is “afraid of his own shadow,” constantly requires reassurance, and depends on others to make his decisions. These individuals were generally raised by dominant parents, and reacted by repressing their resentment and becoming oversubmissive. In adulthood they still avoid all open expression of anger or aggression, but gain an unconscious outlet for their hostile impulses by making excessive demands and forcing others to take responsibility for them.In the passive-aggressive reaction type, hostile urges are closer to the surface and are expressed in a sullen, disgruntled attitude and actions that obstruct the wishes of others. These are the people who frustrate their associates by postponing decisions, constantly raising objections, or taking ineffective action. In some cases their hostility is more open and they become chronic complainers. These behavior patterns can sometimes be traced to childhood— in particular, to suppressed anger against an overdemanding and over- critical father.In the actively aggressive type, resentment is directly on the surface, and the individual has a constant chip on his shoulder. In response to frustration of any kind he becomes irritated, openly hostile, and sometimes violent. Even without provocation, these individuals may express their aggressiveness in caustic remarks, lengthy arguments, or cutthroat competition. They rebel against the authority of others, yet often try to assume unwarranted authority themselves. If they succeed in attaining a position of even slight power, they are likely to overreach themselves and in some cases develop grandiose fantasies. Most of them show an early history of open hostility toward the father, with strong dependence underneath. Their aggressiveness in adulthood is usually interpreted as an extreme reaction to unconscious feelings of dependency

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITY," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/passive-aggressive-personality/ (accessed June 25, 2019).
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