The term passive aggressive is thrown around quite a bit. People will tell others that they are passive aggressive when that person doesn’t express their anger outright. But there is a big misunderstanding about what passive aggressive personality disorder is. These seven signs are indicators of someone who have passive aggressive personality disorder.
Before you can see and read the signs, you need to know what exactly is meant by passive aggressive personality disorder. It is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings such as anger or fear instead of openly dealing with them. There is a detachment between what the person says and what they do.
For example, a person may be very enthusiastic about an idea and even agree to assist with putting it into action. But, often they will miss deadlines or do things that will ensure the failure of the idea. They express their anger through non-compliance and lack of follow through.
Under current diagnosing guidelines, passive aggressive personality disorder is not a distinct and separate mental health issue, but is a facet of other diagnoses.
The passive aggressive person will often agree enthusiastically to someone’s request. But, they will purposefully act in a manner that is not useful or is actually damaging. This is the classic passive aggressive.
For example, a person who is angry at being asked to stay late to complete a project at work will agree to do so, although they are not expressing their anger. Then they will either do the work wrong or only do half way. This is their way of expressing anger at being assigned this task.
Intentional Avoidance Of Responsibility
Another sign that a person may have a passive aggressive personality disorder is the intentionally avoidance of responsibility. This particular sign can manifest itself in three different ways.
The person who exhibits this disorder often will needlessly or intentionally put things off. This is the person who will say, when I get around to it or I had to do this, when the requested thing was more important.
For example, A person needs to make an application for benefits to have medical coverage. Instead of making the application, the person plays video games all day long, despite having been reminded several times to make the application.
Purposefully Performing Incompetently:
These people will perform tasks and duties inefficiently on purpose. They will know how to perform the task, but as a way to express those negative feelings, they will consistently and intentionally not perform them correctly.
For example, An assistant manager needs to stay late with other workers to clean a restaurant for inspection. Because they had other plans, they will exhibit their anger at this interruption to their plans by not ensuring the cleaning is correct and by not completing their normal activities.
This is not the type of oops it slipped my mind that happens occasionally or that is associated with certain brain disorders and dementias. It is type of I don’t want to do it, so I won’t think about it, thereby forgetting to do it.
For example: The student who is pushed to excel. They can’t express the anger and resentment at being pushed into doing something they don’t really want to do. So they will forget to do assignments or forget to tell their parents about something important happening at school.
Continual Feelings Of Resentment Towards Others
This sign is more than just the occasional “Why do I have to do this but someone else doesn’t”. It is where they resent everything and everyone for even the tiniest thing. This is even more than the “keeping up with Jones’. The person who is passive aggressive will believe that they are put upon, and that everyone else has it easy.
This sign is in many people. But it is more than the occasional “you can’t make me”. It is the willful display of will in everything that is confronted in their lives.
For example: A child who cannot display anger and resentment will often become very stubborn about doing anything they are supposed to. This is very trying for a parent, as there are constant fights about having the child do anything like cleaning their room, doing chores or helping where needed.
Very Argumentative, Hostile And Sulky Especially Toward Authority Figures
This sign is the person who is always questioning those in authority. They will argue their position, even when they know that their position is wrong. You see this most often in the work place or with law-enforcement personnel.
For example: The salesman who refuses to follow the proper procedures to close a sale, arguing that they still get the sales and close the deal.
Unable To Take Constructive Criticism From Others
Any useful suggestions or hints are perceived as a “put down” from others. They are unable to to believe that anyone is trying to help them, and will see any attempt to do so as “they’re bad or wrong”.
For example: The employee who earns a decent evaluation, but has a few suggestions, such as wearing their hair back, wearing less perfume or anything that could help their performance will see these as negative put downs instead of being a way to improve their efficiency.
This goes along with the resentfulness. They play the victim well, and it is never their fault, but everyone else’s. No matter what the situation, they are there because of somebody else’s actions. They do not take personal responsibility for anything in their lives.
Passive aggressive personality disorder is not a separate mental illness itself, but rather a symptom of many other mental health issues. While these are not all the signs, these are the seven most commonly seen signs. If you believe someone may be exhibiting these signs, have them evaluated by a mental health professional.