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Is Passive Aggression overdiagnosed?

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panda1176

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I've just started to read up on passive aggression because I have an inquisitive mind and am at the beginning of a relationship that gave me a few red flags that I pop psych diagnosed as "passive aggressive". The research and books on passive aggression seem to cast a very large umbrella over many behaviors, and the reactions are incredibly extreme, mostly by exes of "PA"s. It certainly seems pretty awful. Like you can't deal with these people, they are terrible, abusive, and absolutely unable to discuss the situation. They will always make you feel unworthy. It's like they are despicable and unmanageable. There is no real way to find a compassionate solution with them. I also read that it is no longer classified as a disorder- is it because it's too wide of a net of symptoms? But it also seems like a lot of people could have this judging from the "symptoms". I mean, if someone exhibits a little of two or three of the symptoms, does that mean they are hopeless? Is it really common? Is it hard to diagnose? What's the deal? Thank you.
 
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panda1176

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Hi Nikita!:)
Thank you! Okay, yeah, I am trying to figure that out, too… let's see, according to wiki this is one of the definitions...A personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and characterised by passive, sometimes obstructionist resistance to complying with expectations in interpersonal or occupational situations. Behaviors: Learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
 
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Helena1

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i think most people show passive aggressive behavior to some extent. i dont think it is something you are diagnosed with.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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Yeah, I'd agree with that. It's not a psychiatric diagnosis - it's more of a...... trait, I guess, that people show from time to time, usually if they're not all that good at dealing with / expressing anger. That in itself is not a psych diagnosis. Sometimes people can deal with and express anger perfectly well with most people, but there might be one person that they just can't get on with and get passive aggressive with.
 
Just A Girl

Just A Girl

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Being "passive aggressive" generally means that when for example you are confronted with a situation that would easily make most people act openly aggressively (for example being repeatedly verbally abused), the passively aggressive person does not react in an openly aggressive manner. This does not mean though that they have no negative feelings on the matter, it simply means that whatever negative feelings they have (anger, resentment, frustration etc) they keep for the most part hidden (as this is their nature). However this also again does not necessarily mean that the feelings remain perfectly hidden- it is very common in someone who is passive aggressive that when faced with anger (and really pushed & pushed to show a reaction), they let it be known (in a somewhat passive way) that they are in fact deeply unhappy about the situation (for example expressing their negative emotions through a "veiled insult").

Being "passive aggressive" is not a psychological disorder and nor is it necessarily a bad thing. For example someone who is very passive aggressive is unlikely to shout and lose their cool in the heat of an argument (instead they will remain calm & rational throughout), which can be a good skill to have if you work with a lot of annoying people or are in a position of high responsibility. But it all depends on the underlying personality of the individual as at the same time some passive aggressive people can be very frustrating characters to deal with (what with their lack of obvious reaction in negative situations, for someone who wants a reaction a passive aggressive person can be an extremely frustrating person to get any reaction out of) and at their worst they can very manipulative, sly or spiteful (for example "baiting" people into arguments or making veiled insults or threats which although not shouted, strike deep into the other persons heart etc).

So Panda, when you say you are dealing with someone who is "terrible, abusive, and absolutely unable to discuss the situation" i really don't think you are dealing with a passive aggressive person here but rather some other type of person entirely (because passive aggressive people generally have no problems discussing tough subjects nor would have extreme/very abusive reactions when such subjects are raised. In general its very hard to have an actual argument with someone who is passive aggressive because while they might disagree with you about things, they won't argue in a typically heated manner about the disagreement either).

Also Nikita what you seem to be describing is IMO more somebody who is a sociopath than a passive aggressive type.
 
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