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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Passive Aggressive

    I'm interested in starting a thread on this topic, since I've seen the word used pretty much as a "nasty man/woman" or "meanie" kind of insult or objection. That's not exactly what it is about when I looked it up.

    Passive–aggressive behavior - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I think this is how the word "neurotic" was used for a while but not presently and I'm unsure if neurosis and being neurotic is still accepted as a diagnosis to be honest.

    Do you think that this is the fate of all psychological concepts when they enter popular culture or get critiqued by popular culture? Or do you have anything to say or add more specifically about the idea of passive aggressive behaviour?

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I think the term gets thrown around a lot, but the behavior (not the official "disorder") is probably more common than something like neuroticism. I don't think passive-aggressive people are meaner than overtly aggressive people, but they tend to maintain some degree of deniable plausibility. It is probably also possible to not see one's own passive aggression.

    People who have internalized a self-concept of being peaceful and kind, or even logical and rational, can't always admit to themselves when they are acting in a passive-aggressive manner. They can't see it and they have plausible deniability, so it most often creates a grey area where no one is completely certain what is going on. At that point it is a matter of detecting longer-term patterns.

    Basically the aggressive part is finding ways to gain control over a person or situation even against their will without requiring confrontation or responsibility. There is a deceptive quality to passive-aggression that can bother people in particular. The back-handed compliment followed up with, "what?! I was just being nice." Or the cutting remark followed by, "I don't know why you are getting upset because my perspective is logical." Both cut-downs are combined with an assumption of superiority of being "nicer" or more "rational" than the recipient and is therefore being misunderstood which exacerbates the nature of the cut-down even further.

    I've noticed that the most passive-aggressive behaviors will often get other people to act out the emotion the reserved, controlled passive-aggressive person is feeling. They insult others, get them to act out of control, all the while maintaining control and superiority when in reality, it is them who are internally out of control. People who are really good at it can almost never be conclusively pegged with having done it.

    People are fairly consistently offended at the accusation of it because either they are sincerely not being passive-aggressive and therefore the accusation is unfair, or they are unaware and it is threatening to have someone else observe more truth than one can perceive in oneself (also it can shatter an important self-image), or they know they are being passive-aggressive and part of the success of the behavior is being certain they are not called on it. There is not positive result for calling it out. I tend to initially give the benefit of the doubt, but if the pattern keep emerging, it is better to just avoid the person. I'm not sure that is the best way, it is actually a rather difficult topic.
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    Senior Member guesswho's Avatar
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    People use words.
    That doesn't necessarily mean that they know what the words actually mean.

    But passive aggressive behavior is kinda obvious. This type of behavior has always existed, but now that it's labeled, it got popular.

    It's funny because...if you tell someone that's passive aggressive that he's passive aggressive, in an insulting way...they probably won't fight back.

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guesswho View Post
    People use words.
    That doesn't necessarily mean that they know what the words actually mean.

    But passive aggressive behavior is kinda obvious. This type of behavior has always existed, but now that it's labeled, it got popular.

    It's funny because...if you tell someone that's passive aggressive that he's passive aggressive, in an insulting way...they probably won't fight back.
    Ha. Yeah, your friend might wilt in light of the accusation, but next time you loan him your Ipod, it will come back with your favorite songs missing. When you confront him, he will adamantly deny having ever saw those songs on there and might even offer to help replace them only to download corrupt files, etc. Passive-aggression has much more plasticity than overt aggression. Don't be too sure.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  5. #5
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    I have noticed that everyone seems to be talking about this, these days. That an narcissism. Sometimes I think people just like to sound smart.

    As for the definition, I think people take a small part of the definition and focus on that, and the definition has seemed to narrow based on popular usage.

    It seems like these days when people talk about passive aggressive behavior, they are referring to the things I've bolded below from the Wiki definition:

    -Ambiguity or speaking cryptically: a means of engendering a feeling of insecurity in others
    Chronically being late and forgetting things: another way to exert control or to punish.
    Fear of competition
    Fear of dependency
    Fear of intimacy as a means to act out anger: The passive aggressive often cannot trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone.
    Making chaotic situations
    Making excuses for non-performance in work teams
    Obstructionism
    Procrastination
    -Sulking
    -Victimization response: instead of recognizing one's own weaknesses, tendency to blame others for own failures.
    I don't think many people think of chronic tardiness, procrastination, fear of intimacy or fear of dependency as "passive aggressive."
    Masquerading as a normal person day after day is exhausting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    I have noticed that everyone seems to be talking about this, these days. That an narcissism.
    Yeah, it seems to me that it's a convenient label now any time two people disagree. Kinda like the 'jealous' phase.

    Not saying that there isn't p/a or narcissists, but I think it's possible for the dynamic between the two person to be dysfunctional more of the time than just one person speaking/acting p/a. A lot of time people get caught up in the differences of direct and indirect styles of speech.

    I think there is a subset of true p/a personality but you will see that person interact with everyone that way and observe lasting problems that span across the relationships as a result.

  7. #7
    meinmeinmein! mmhmm's Avatar
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    when i meet passive agressive chicks
    99% of time i always conclude they just need dick
    every normal man must be tempted, at times,
    to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag,
    and begin slitting throats.
    h.l. mencken

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    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    Oh good. I wanted to start a thread on this. I wanted to solicit examples of passive-aggressive behaviour in relationships, how people deal with it, etc. I think a lot of people deal with this all the time without labeling it as such. And, as others have mentioned, the term is frequently misapplied to more innocuous behaviours e.g. sarcasm/irony is not necessarily passive aggressive (though it can be).

    From here: Passive Aggressive Behavior - Passive Aggressive Behavior as Covert Abuse

    Passive Aggressive (adj.) Of, relating to, or having a personality disorder characterized by habitual passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in occupational or social situations, as by procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, and inefficiency.
    Covert (adj.) Not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed : VEILED


    Passive Aggressive Behavior Defined: Passive Aggressive behavior is a form of covert abuse. When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you've been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse.
    Passive aggressive behavior stems from an inability to express anger in a healthy way. A person's feelings may be so repressed that they don't even realize they are angry or feeling resentment. A passive aggressive can drive people around him/her crazy and seem sincerely dismayed when confronted with their behavior. Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings the passive aggressive often feels that others misunderstand them or, are holding them to unreasonable standards if they are confronted about their behavior.
    Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors:

    • Ambiguity: I think of the proverb, "Actions speak louder than words" when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don't act until after they've caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.
    • Forgetfulness: The passive aggressive avoids responsibility by "forgetting." How convenient is that? There is no easier way to punish someone than forgetting that lunch date or your birthday or, better yet, an anniversary.
    • Blaming: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren't to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around him/her who has faults and they must be punished for those faults.
    • Lack of Anger: He/she may never express anger. There are some who are happy with whatever you want. On the outside anyway! The passive aggressive may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. Hence they go through life stuffing their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way.
    • Fear of Dependency: From Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man. "Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn't depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battle grounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support."
    • Fear of Intimacy: The passive aggressive often can't trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone. A passive aggressive will have sex with you but they rarely make love to you. If they feel themselves becoming attached, they may punish you by withholding sex.
    • Obstructionism: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to him/her that you don,t get your way. He/she will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will he/she follow through with giving it. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what he/she wants to you to feel.
    • Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else's fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
    • Procrastination: The passive aggressive person believes that deadlines are for everyone but them. They do things on their own time schedule and be damned anyone who expects differently from them.

    The Passive Aggressive and You:
    The passive aggressive needs to have a relationship with someone who can be the object of his or her hostility. They need someone whose expectations and demands he/she can resist. A passive aggressive is usually attracted to co-dependents, people with low self-esteem and those who find it easy to make excuses for other's bad behaviors.
    The biggest frustration in being with a passive aggressive is that they never follow through on agreements and promises. He/she will dodge responsibility for anything in the relationship while at the same time making it look as if he/she is pulling his/her own weight and is a very loving partner. The sad thing is, you can be made to believe that you are loved and adored by a person who is completely unable to form an emotional connection with anyone.
    The passive aggressive ignores problems in the relationship, sees things through their own skewed sense of reality and if forced to deal with the problems will completely withdraw from the relationship and you. They will deny evidence of wrong doing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical.
    So... thoughts? Experiences?
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle99 View Post
    I have noticed that everyone seems to be talking about this, these days. That an narcissism. Sometimes I think people just like to sound smart.
    I think that those two maladies are pretty widespread, on the other hand I do think that people often DO use labels like this to seem smart too, a lot of the time labelling it mean, rude or unmannered would amount to the same thing.

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    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    That list scares me because I do some of that ... but when, for example, I forget, I really DO forget, and I feel horrible about it, and I do something to make up for it ... is that passive-aggressive or is that early Alzheimer's, I wonder.

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