Free Psychotherapy Thursday….Dealing With Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder

Posted: February 23, 2012 in FREE PSYCHOTHERAPY THURSDAY
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Passive-aggressive (negativistic) personality disorder – is a pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance in interpersonal situations.

Do you have people who infuriate you with their indirect behavior? They act without looking you in the eye, with sarcasm or by doing stuff that slightly ambiguously gives them a chance to not take responsibility. It can make you ragefully angry.

You spend your time rehearsing how you’ll tell them off, get back at them or fantasize totally ignoring them. But when the time comes for direct interaction they flip the script, adeptly change subjects or simply just don’t show up.

What’s the solution?

Don’t play with them. Engaging them is their payoff. The drama is reinforcing.

Realize they’ll make you crazy…if you let them. Back up, take care of what you have to–often there’s stuff left in their wake–but forget about addressing them. It doesn’t work.

Behaviorally address things. Stick to you guns when the drama comes but don’t change your behavior. Check your anger. Realize this is them, not you. As you get more skilled at backing away prepare for them to up the emotional drama. Don’t take the carrot.

If you give no drama they will eventually move on to someone who will give it. Don’t hate, don’t seethe. Be strategic.

And while you’re at it examine your own thoughts and demands. Why does what someone does effect you emotionally? Are you looking for their approval, friendship or apology? We all like those things but some people are incapable.

Boundaries and limits are the answer.

For other Free Psychotherapy b logs click here.

  1. Great stuff, Tom. This is the sort of thing I’ve been meditating on daily, working through in my personal life. My wife, who is currently in the process of selecting a PhD program for counseling psychology, shared the following idea with me: Anger is always a secondary emotion. I try to keep this in mind constantly. Beneath anger is usually hurt feelings, which people tend to be embarrassed to admit–particularly men in our culture–and beneath hurt feeling, I’ve found in myself, is usually frustrated expectations. This line of thinking can of course go on for quite sometime, continually unraveling into deeper realizations of our emotional formation. And as they sometimes say in Acceptance and Commitment Theory/Therapy (ACT) at some point you have to get out of your mind and into your life. That said, I’ve found that in order to hold up to the type of maturity that your post calls for—a call deeply needed in our reactionary culture—understanding at least the most immediate thing underneath the anger, and presenting that to the person I’m in conflict with, usually leads to an openness to conversation that doesn’t occur when we are in attack mode. In other words, “this thing you did hurt my feelings” always yields more effective results than “Hey man! Stop being an asshole.” When I show a person they don’t need their defenses, USUALLY that works much better. Of course, there are always unsympathetic people and psychopaths, in which case this approach probably won’t work. I’ve been returning to the Bible lately, the reading of my youth that I put away for a few years, and I keep returning to this phrase of Jesus: Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. Thanks for the free psychotherapy! I’ve been taking in as much as I can find.

  2. tjs9261 says:

    Culturally as a male we do get jammed up because it is much more acceptable to want to kick someone’s ass then to say “I was hurt when you…” I try to do my best to ignore what culture says because that’s what gets people jammed up.

    It’s also important to be able to know the difference between distancing yourself from toxic people and hating and cursing their existence.

    ACT says to pay attention to where you’re experiencing the emotional pain physically and then breathe into it while saying “let it be.” Don’t fight uncomfortable feelings, acknowledge their existence but don’t “fuse” yourself to them.

    I’m tryin!

  3. […] here: Free Psychotherapy Thursday….Dealing With Passive Aggressive … ch_client = "trevone"; ch_width = 550; ch_height = 250; ch_type = "mpu"; ch_sid = "Chitika […]

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