Passive-aggressive behavior is a general term used in many contexts.
According to some, passive-aggressive behavior can manifest itself as learned helplessness (in which an organism has learned to be helpless because proactive behavior is useless), procrastination, hostile jokes (though jokes in general are recognized as a method of expressing veiled hostility), stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. According to Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man, a self-help book, a passive man does little to get what he wants as it is too much effort to do so, and ranges from the inept "loser" type to the conformist who does anything to be liked, avoids making waves and rarely says what he feels.
Concept in different areas 
In psychology 
In psychology, passive-aggressive behavior is characterised by a habitual pattern of passive resistance to expected work requirements, opposition, stubbornness, and negativistic attitudes in response to requirements for normal performance levels expected of others. It occurs in the workplace or interpersonal contexts, but behavior is not considered passive-aggressive if exhibited during a Major Depressive Episode or cannot be attributed to Dysthymic Disorder.[further explanation needed] Most frequently it occurs in the workplace where resistance is exhibited by such indirect behaviors as procrastination, forgetfulness, and purposeful inefficiency, especially in reaction to demands by authority figures.
Another source characterizes Passive-aggressive behavior as: "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".
Passive-aggressive behavior, although very similar, is not the same as passive resistance exhibited in groups by social protesters, although the dynamics are similar. The nonviolent resistancer is working to defeat demands for social behavior required by others as a method of defiance of authority figures. In contrast, the person characterized by passive-aggressive behavior is not working with others toward a defined social goal.
In conflict theory 
In conflict theory passive resistance is a rational response to demands that may simply be disagreed with. Passive-aggressive behavior can resemble a behavior better described as catty, as it consists of deliberate, active, but carefully veiled hostile acts which are distinctively different in character from the non-assertive style of passive aggression.
In the workplace 
Passive-aggressive behavior from workers and managers is damaging to team unity and productivity. Warner in the ad for his online ebook says: "The worst case of passive-aggressive behavior involves destructive attitudes such as negativity, sullenness, resentment, procrastination, 'forgetting' to do something, chronic lateness, and intentional inefficiency." He advises that though the temptation for a worker may be to quit the job: "Stay and fight back: Engage in guerrilla tactics to counteract passive aggression and defend your own work". If this behavior is ignored it could result in decreased office efficiency and frustration among workers.
If managers are passive-aggressive in their behavior, it can end up stifling team creativity. De Angelis says "It would actually make perfect sense that those promoted to leadership positions might often be those who on the surface appear to be agreeable, diplomatic and supportive, yet who are actually dishonest, backstabbing saboteurs behind the scenes."[page needed]
Diagnosis as a personality disorder 
|Passive-aggressive personality disorder|
|Classification and external resources|
DSM-IV Appendix B 
|Cluster A (odd)|
|Cluster B (dramatic)|
|Cluster C (anxious)|
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. According to DSM-IV, passive-aggressive personality disorder is "often overtly ambivalent, wavering indecisively from one course of action to its opposite. They may follow an erratic path that causes endless wrangles with others and disappointment for themselves." Characteristic of these persons in an "intense conflict dependence on other and the desire for self-assertion." Although exhibiting superficial bravado, their self-confidence is often very poor, and others react to them with hostility and negativity.
Millon's subtypes 
|Vacillating||Including Borderline personality disorder features||Emotions fluctuate in bewildering, perplexing, and enigmatic ways; difficult to fathom or comprehend own capricious and mystifying moods; wavers, in flux, and irresolute both subjectively and intrapsychically.|
|Discontented||Including Depressive personality disorder features||Grumbling, petty, testy, cranky, embittered, complaining, fretful, vexed, and moody; gripes behind pretense; avoids confrontation; uses legitimate but trivial complaints.|
|Circuitous||Including Dependent personality disorder features||Opposition displayed in a roundabout, labyrinthine, and ambiguous manner, e.g., procrastination, dawdling, forgetfulness, inefficiency, neglect, stubbornness, indirect and devious in venting resentment and resistant behaviors.|
|Abrasive||Including Sadistic personality disorder features||Contentious, intransigent, fractious, and quarrelsome; irritable, caustic, debasing, corrosive, and acrimonious, contradicts and derogates; few qualms and little conscience or remorse. (no longer a valid diagnosis in DSM)|
Passive-aggressive disorder may stem from a specific childhood stimulus[non-primary source needed] (e.g., alcohol/drug addicted parents) in an environment where it was not safe to express frustration or anger. Families in which the honest expression of feelings is forbidden tend to teach children to repress and deny their feelings and to use other channels to express their frustration.
Children who sugarcoat hostility may have difficulties being assertive, never developing better coping strategies or skills for self-expression. They can become adults who, beneath a "seductive veneer", "harbor vindictive intent", in the words of a US congressman psychologist and a writer/practicing therapist. Alternatively individuals may simply have difficulty being as directly aggressive or assertive as others. Martin Kantor suggests three areas that contribute to passive-aggressive anger in individuals: conflicts about dependency, control, and competition, and that a person may be termed passive-aggressive if they behave so to most persons on most occasions. Alternatively, the term may apply to a person who forgot to return a library book more than one time.[further explanation needed]
Murphy and Oberlin also see passive aggression as part of a larger umbrella of hidden anger stemming from ten traits of the angry child or adult. These traits include making one's own misery, the inability to analyze problems, blaming others, turning bad feelings into mad ones, attacking people, lacking empathy, using anger to gain power, confusing anger with self-esteem, and indulging in negative self-talk. Lastly, the authors point out that those who hide their anger can be nice when they wish to be.
Kantor suggests a treatment approach using psychodynamic, supportive, cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal therapeutic methods. These methods apply to both the passive-aggressive person and their target victim, according to Kantor, a retired Staff Psychiatrist for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Jersey.
Passive-aggressive behavior was first defined clinically by Colonel William Menninger during World War II in the context of men's reaction to military compliance. Menninger described soldiers who were not openly defiant but expressed their aggressiveness “by passive measures, such as pouting, stubbornness, procrastination, inefficiency, and passive obstructionism” due to what Menninger saw as an "immaturity" and a reaction to "routine military stress".
According to some psychoanalytic views, noncompliance is not indicative of true passive-aggressive behavior, which may instead be defined as the manifestation of emotions that have been repressed based on a self-imposed need for acceptance.
In the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-I, in 1952, the passive-aggressive was defined in a narrow way, grouped together with the passive-dependent.
The DSM-III-R stated in 1987 that passive-aggressive disorder is typified by, among other things, "fail[ing] to do the laundry or to stock the kitchen with food because of procrastination and dawdling."
Increased public exposure to the term has led to websites like Passive-Aggressive Notes, which uploads purportedly passive-aggressive emails, notes and signs, although many of the examples are not correctly passive-aggressive in nature.
See also 
- Wetzler 1992, pp. 35–37.
- American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatic Association. p. 733. ISBN 0890420629.
- Diagnostic criteria at The Free Dictionary
- Simon, George (2010), In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, Little Rock: Parkhurst Brothers, pp. 21–22, ISBN 978-1-935166-30-6
- Harms, Kimberly A (May–June, 2012), Passive Aggressive Behaviour in the Dental Office (3 ed.).
- De Angelis, Paula (Jun 22 2008), Blindsided: Recognizing and Dealing with Passive-Aggressive Leadership in the Workplace (Kindle ed.).
- American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatic Association. p. 734. ISBN 0890420629.
- Millon, Theodore (2004), Personality Disorders in Modern Life.
- Johnson, JG; Cohen, P; Brown, J; Smailes, EM; Bernstein, DP (July 1999), "Childhood maltreatment increases risk for personality disorders during early adulthood", Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 56 (7): 600–6, doi:10.1001/archpsyc.56.7.600, PMID 10401504
- Tim, Murphy; Hoff Oberlin, Loriann (2005), Overcoming passive aggression: how to stop hidden anger from spoiling your relationships, career and happiness, New York: Marlowe & Company, p. 48, ISBN 1-56924-361-1, retrieved April 27, 2010
- Kantor 2002, pp. xvi–xvii, 5.
- Tim, Murphy; Hoff Oberlin, Loriann (2005).
- Kantor 2002, p. 115.
- Lane, C (1 February 2009), "The Surprising History of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder" (PDF), Theory & Psychology 19 (1): 55–70, doi:10.1177/0959354308101419
- Kantor, Martin (2002), Passive-aggression: a guide for the therapist, the patient and the victim, Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, ISBN 0-275-97422-7, retrieved April 27, 2010.
- Wetzler, Scott (1992), Living with the Passive-aggressive Man, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9781451640175, retrieved April 27, 2010.
- Oberlin, Loriann Hoff (2005), Overcoming Passive-Aggression: How to Stop Hidden Anger From Spoiling Your Relationships, Career and Happiness, Perseus, p. 45