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#10971 - 04/10/11 05:33 PM can psychopaths be passive-aggressive?
Elvie Offline
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Registered: 03/25/11
Posts: 17

I'm asking this question because the man (X) I've talked about on another thread fits sooo many of the Psychopath criteria (he has shallow emotional responses, poor impulse control, is secretive, manipulative, sometimes violent, fails to learn from experience, abuses alcohol and seem to lack all real remorse, BUT he isn't really overtly controlling or highly charismatic, in fact quite the reverse, he puts over a persona of quiet diffidence, shyness and helplessness. He rarely refuses to do anything he's asked, and cultivates a superficial impression of being something of a dogsbody.

He does definitely exert a huge amount of control over his immediate family, but he does so through classic passive-aggressive traits - non-compliance, withholding, persistent 'forgetting', unpredictable moodiness etc. One typical scenario might be that I might ask him if he can spare the time from work to - say - pick up some shopping. He'll say of course he can, no problem, and do it. Only at some later date it'll transpire that this made him miss a deadline, and he'll feel able to start raging at me for how selfish I am to have insisted on my needs coming first. If I say, "but I said don't do it if you don't have the time" he'll say "oh sure, as if you'd ever accept me saying no". So, somehow, even though I've tried to be reasonable and fair he's played it so that I seem selfish and he has a right to scream at me. But conversely, if I didn't ask him to do things he'd suggest I was trying to make him feel guilty by 'making a big thing' of considering him!

He also 'accidentally' breaks things, often things that are specially important to a person (usually me) he has an issue with. For example, I bought some little paper lanterns to hang in my room one time. Shortly after one of our fights I found them all smashed and ruined. When I asked him he said he'd accidentally smashed the bed back against the wall and broken them. But logistically I just knew it couldn't have been accidental, whatever he said. Such things were a regular occurrence. But if I ever said I thought he was doing it on purpose he'd fly into a torrential rage and tell me what an evil bitch I was to doubt him.


You get the picture? So, can psychopaths use this passive-aggressive MO? Or does this mean he's something else and not a Psychopath?

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#10972 - 04/12/11 06:25 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Elvie]
skybluepaint Offline
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Registered: 02/05/11
Posts: 100
I asked myself this question in the beginning... is my ex passive-aggressive or a psychopath? I've never seen a full comparison of the two traits, but there probably are quite a few things that overlap. The passive-aggressive, like the psychopath, lies or hides their intentions to get what they want at the time, sees people as objects or an extension of themselves, is afraid of intimacy or dependency, is totally out of touch with their own feelings, and, although "passive", when the passive-aggressive does get angry and let it all out, you DON'T want to be around! I got screamed at 2 years later because I'd forgotten my ex's favorite cap at a restaurant and she'd apparently been searching since then to find one resembling it. At the time, she said it was no big deal. So, I can relate to your stories.

However, from your previous posts, though, it sounds like your ex was violent and took funds, which aren't necessarily passive-aggressive traits. Also, there is a fine line between being out of touch with your feelings, as in passive-aggressive, and not having any, like a psychopath. As for the glib, superficial charm thing, this was one of my big questions in the beginning. Certainly, my ex wasn't glib or showy, instead she lured me in, told me all her problems, made me feel sorry for her, told me how funny I was and how I made her nervous, as if she were a shy, little girl. Was that superficial charm? I think the answer I received from others was that she sounded like a pretty confident woman, and I know that is true. She was like two entirely different people. She'd flip into this little naiive helpless routine when it suited her. And, I began to realize her tears never seemed genuine or occured at odd times. When you get on a train and know you are going to see the person again a week later, do you cry and say "I love you," as if the person is gone forever? When you write a song, do you say, "I look into you eyes and I see love", as if I am the only one feeling it? Or, perhaps more like the passive aggressive, she'd sometimes say that she 'wanted to say I love you', like lovers do, but wasn't sure of the right time to do it. It was like everything was an act, not genuine. But I, like most people do with psychopaths, filled in the odd blanks for her and just assumed she was a bit linguistically, socially awkward.

I think the passive-aggressive knows what they are doing and how it will push someone's buttons, doing it on purpose. To me, the psychopath seems clueless to understand the feelings of others, to feel remorse, empathy, guilt, genuine caring, joy, sadness, anything that another is feeling, and is sometimes literally surprised by a person's feelings or reactions to what they have done. They are just absolutely totally bewildered by the realm of feelings. They know words. They are craftsmen at words, but the reaction to those words, a genuine expression within those words, is beyond their grasp. For example, if you have a great achievement or success in your life, maybe you hit a home run in baseball, the psychopath says congratulations, but you don't feel them cheering inside for you. There is something missing. I can recall taking my ex out for a fabulous meal and gushing over how great it was afterward, but she really didn't say anything. She never said much of anything. She was just quiet and went along with things, no highs, no lows.

So, I don't think every psychopath is overtly glib, superficial, the life of the party extrovert. You only have to look at some serial killers to see that. There are plenty of odd, quiet, reserved types, too, whose lack of understanding of the world of emotions has caused them major social isolation, but it doesn't mean they aren't capable of crafting words to get what they want.

And in the end, at least for myself, I have to accept that it doesn't matter whether she was a passive-aggressive with psychopathic traits or an antisocial, passive psychopath, she wasn't a normal, feeling human being. She was literally a robot, and while I loved a lot of the things that robot had programmed herself to say and do, there was always some humanity, genuiness, realness missing.

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#10973 - 04/12/11 10:23 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: skybluepaint]
Dianne E. Offline

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Here is some interesting info, follow the link and it will explain the history of how professionals defined this:

Passive Agressive

*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

My note: because Psychopaths are well known to view themselves as the victim when logic says otherwise this is quite fit.


Passive–aggressive personality disorder was listed as an Axis II personality disorder in the DSM-III-R, but was moved in the DSM-IV to Appendix B ("Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study") because of controversy and the need for further research on how to also categorize the behaviors in a future edition. As an alternative, the diagnosis personality disorder not otherwise specified may be used instead.

The DSM-IV Appendix B definition is as follows:[2]

A pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicted by four (or more) of the following:

1. passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks
2. complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others
3. is sullen and argumentative
4. unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority
5. expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate
6. voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune
7. alternates between hostile defiance and contrition

Passive Agressive continues...

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#10974 - 04/12/11 10:44 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Dianne E.]
Dianne E. Offline

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Hi, I have to think about that skypaint, not sure that violence and taking funds don't fit into the passive aggressive criteria.

Di

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#10975 - 04/12/11 10:57 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Elvie]
Dianne E. Offline

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Many members over the years have spoken of the issues you are talking about in regards to breakings, tripping them on purpose causing a fall.

I think you have a very good issue to discuss. Psychopaths imo are a mixed bag of many things that fit their criterial.

I had a non Psychopath business partner for several years. Although she didn't steal in terms normally used it had another slant in misuse of funds to keep things off kilter. In my mind that was stealing because everytime I had to clean up the mess it cost money and took me off track from making more sales. I guess it is how we define stealing, in my mind she was stealing in her own passive agressive way to set up situations to create chaos and herself as a victim vs. the instigator.

Di

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#10976 - 04/12/11 12:27 PM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Dianne E.]
Elvie Offline
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Registered: 03/25/11
Posts: 17
Hi guys - really appreciate the feedback. S - your lady sounds like a nightmare!

Does a lot hinge on the emotional depth of the person? Passive-Aggressives seem to be out of touch with their emotions, but presumably they do still have attachments and feel love?

I sincerely doubt that my X feels deep emotions. Not only did he feel capable of planning (if not committing) his mother's murder, but he seems to exhibit only superficial interest in his own children - rarely calls or asks for them and has even deliberately damaged their stuff as well as mine.

Would I be correct in thinking this seems to be more of a psychopathic than merely Passive-Aggressive trait?

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#10991 - 04/15/11 01:22 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Elvie]
skybluepaint Offline
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Registered: 02/05/11
Posts: 100
Elvie,
I think this is such a good question, and, as I mentioned, one that I struggled with. I think the best way to figure out which was more characteristic of your ex, would be to closely look at the Passive-Aggressive traits Dianne posted here, as well as the ones she reposted in the other resources thread with characteristics of Psychopaths. Then, try to decipher which best applies, or perhaps both apply, as you said.

I think you are on the right track that perhaps there is a difference in emotions. One psychopath trait is a lack of empathy or remorse, but those aren't listed on the passive-aggressive traits. On the other hand, you have to wonder whether the passive-aggressive real likes, loves, feels for others if inside they are a stewing pit of anger, and whether they feel much guilt when they retaliate? Hence, it is most certainly a perplexing and good question to which I hope you'll get some more insightful responses.

And, yes, my lady was a nightmare- a fabulous grabbag of inexperience, immaturity, passive-aggresion, and psychopathic traits. I could deal with the first two, unfortunately didn't recognize the passive-aggression and internalized anger at the time, and when I saw her repeat the same pattern with someone else, the helpless little victim routine, the psychopath gaze and thought of all her bizarre language throughout, I accepted she is a psychopath who brilliantly constructs words and scenarios to get what she wants.

Whether the passive-aggressive or the psychopath, I think they both easily fool us. There is a great comedy sketch I once saw of the passive-aggressive "mascot". The comedian says he is like a happy little mascot, going along with whatever people say, but inside he has a great secret... he hates people! The psychopathic stare, that look of hunger and desire and all of the flattery and gifts feels like love, but in reality, it is just a hunger and when they have a change of appetite, they'll gladly fill it elsewhere. Sad, but true.

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#10995 - 04/15/11 04:18 AM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: skybluepaint]
Dianne E. Offline

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I have been thinking about this for awhile. What is not to say that passive agressive behavior is part of the Psychopath make up. Not every passive agressive, probably very few are anything but that but perhaps most Psychopaths have passive aggressive as far as their personality mix. Think of a Psychopath as being a pie chart with pieces written in, maybe Passive Agressive behavior is one of those slots on the wheel that makes up the Psychopath picture.

Di

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#10998 - 04/16/11 07:40 PM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Elvie]
Newboy Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 36
Hi Elvie,
This is Newboy responding. I will introduce myself properly later, but for now I just want to say that I hear in your postings a questioning, querying about the circumstances in your life, trying to understand and come to terms with events and the person who has brought them. I am sorry that we have to meet like this, here, but then perhaps in the circumstances this is the best place to "meet".
It can be a long and painful road (shocking as well) to uncover and understand just what has been operating in your life, but in the end I think enlightening, and that leads to Freedom to find your own health & happiness. I want to respond to your question but it is with difficulty & taking me a long time so in the meantime I just wanted to drop you this and my best wishes
yours sincerely - Newboy.

Psychopath.s I think it is actually doing me some good to write down and clarify some of the jumble thats rumbling in my own head! Cheers.

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#10999 - 04/16/11 07:44 PM Re: can psychopaths be passive-aggressive? [Re: Newboy]
Newboy Offline
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Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 36
Damn it, I've got it wrong again. Last sentence in my post should read : PS.....
Cheers - Newboy.

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