Well, having taken a giant step back from some of my relatives has given me peace, serenity and complete freedom from severely dysfunctional relationships. It would be relatively impossible for me to feel comfortable in an environment where so much passive/aggressive interaction occurs. Limiting my interactions with people who aren't able to accept or understand me is far less isolating then trying to fight for my voice in a roomful of people intent on drowning me out.
Signs and Symptoms:
1. Ambiguity or speaking cryptically: a means of engendering a feeling of insecurity in others.
2. Chronically being late and forgetting things: another way to exert control or to punish.
3. Fear of competition.
4. Fear of dependency.
5. 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.
6. Making chaotic situations.
7. Making excuses for non-performance in work teams.
I have a few relatives that fit the criteria so closely, the passive/aggressive handbook could have been written about and for them.
Behaviors associated with passive/aggressive personality disorder are varied; but perhaps the one that consistently fits the people I used to try to deal with is psychological manipulation.
Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other's expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious and deceptive.
The following techniques are employed by passive aggressive sufferers.
1. Lying. It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time they do it although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimize the chances of being lied to is to understand that some personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently and often in subtle ways.
2. Lying by omission. This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.
3. Denial. Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
4. Rationalization. An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. rationalization is closely related to spin.
5. Minimization. This is a type of denial coupled with rationalization. The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting, for example, saying that a taunt or an insult was only a joke.
6. Selective inattention or selective attention. Manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like "I don't want to hear it".
7. Diversion. Manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
8. Evasion. Similar to diversion, but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague responses, weasel words.
9. Covert intimidation. Manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle indirect or implied) threats.
10. Guilt tripping. A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.
11. Shaming. Manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle, such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm. Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
12. Playing the victim role ("poor me"). Manipulator portrays him-or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else's behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy, or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.
13. Vilifying the victim. More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.
14. Playing the servant role. Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause, for example, saying he/she is acting in a certain way for obedience and service to God or a similar authority figure.
15. Seduction. Manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and give their trust and loyalty to him or her.
16. Projecting the blame (blaming others). Manipulators scapegoat in often subtle, hard to detect ways.
17. Feigning innocence. Manipulator tries to suggest that any harm done was unintentional or did not do something that they were accused of. Manipulator may put on a look of surprise or indignation. This tactic makes the victim questions his or her own judgment and possibly his or her own sanity.
18. Feigning confusion. Manipulator tries to play dumb by pretending he or she does not know what you are talking about or is confused about an important issue brought to his attention.
19. Brandishing anger. Manipulator uses anger to brandish sufficient emotional intensity and rage to shock the victim into submission. The manipulator is not actually angry, he or she just puts on an act. He or she just wants what he/she wants and gets "angry" when denied.
Here are the character traits that make a person a prime target for passive/aggressive personalities:
1. Too trusting.
2. Too altruistic.
3. Too impressionable.
4. Too naive.
5. Too Masochistic.
6. Too Narcissistic.
7. Too Greedy.
8. Too immature.
9. Too materialistic.
10. Too dependent.
11. Too lonely.
12. Too impulsive.
13. Too frugal.
14. Being elderly.*
With the exception of numbers 7, 9, 10 and 13, I have certainly embodied many of the traits that have made me a prime target for the passive/aggressive types.
Supposedly, passive/aggressive personality disorder manifests itself in childhood, usually because of a problem with a parent, i.e., a drug addicted father, a mentally ill mother, etc. Therapy can uncover the cause and illuminate a road to a more integrated personality.
Probably all human beings have been passive/aggressive in their lifetimes, showing a few traits and behaviors somewhere in their personal histories. At some point, I believe people realize that their behaviors aren't working for them, usually when difficulties arise in interpersonal relationships. Faced with that reality, we either gain insight, get help or we end up with a fairly limited number of relationships. One thing is certain, emotionally healthy people avoid emotionally unhealthy people. Temperament and emotional stability tends to be the great equalizer of long lasting relationships and true intimacy.
*Reprinted from Psychological manipulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.