What is Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder?

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  • Written By: L. Jablonsky
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Someone with passive aggressive personality disorder (PAPD) may appear to go along with the desires of other people while in reality, they are passively resisting orders and instructions. He or she may avoid responsibility, respond negatively to suggestions, and appear easily offended. People with this disorder may also develop a resentful attitude towards family members, romantic partners, and authority figures over time.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV describes PAPD as a pervasive pattern of negative, resentful attitudes and passive resistance. The signs of PAPD may be evident in early adulthood and may continue throughout the rest of the person's life. These symptoms include an avoidance of responsibility, resentment towards loved ones and authority figures, stubbornness, and general inefficiency. People struggling with PAPD may sulk and appear angry, hostile, and offended at inappropriate times. People with other types of personality disorders may display similar negative attitudes and behavior.

Someone struggling with PAPD will often respond negatively to suggestions, instructions, or orders from another person. If he or she must complete a task, the person with PAPD may deliberately avoid hearing the instructions or procrastinate while attempting to complete the task. In some cases, the person may bungle the task intentionally as an expression of resentment against the person issuing the order. Passive-aggressive behavior may simply be the person's outlet for expressing general hostility and anger.


According to the five-factor model for personality, people with Passive aggressive personality disorder display highly neurotic, extroverted, and conscientious tendencies. The PAPD psychological profile also indicates that people are not very open and agreeable with others, at times appearing paranoid or overly cynical. Despite a high level of intelligence, people displaying the symptoms of PAPD may struggle with relationships and career development.

Passive aggressive personality disorder is diagnosed by a psychologist. The psychologist analyzes the patient's behavior, taking note of drug use, survival skills, and psychosocial history. Some of the symptoms of PAPD may also be identified under other types of personality disorder, such as borderline personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder. An extreme and continuous display of passive-aggressive behavior may lead the psychologist to diagnose the patient with PAPD.

There is no treatment for patients with passive aggressive personality disorder. Patients may struggle with other issues with exacerbate their negative behavior, however, such as anxiety, depression, and any other drug or alcohol-related problems. People with other problems in addition to PAPD can take medication for anxiety and depression and seek counseling for addiction and behavioral issues. Cognitive-behavioral and group therapy might be very beneficial for the patient. Group therapy can help the individual address his behavior within the context of a group setting and possibly improve relational issues.


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Post 5

I am sure my daughter has PAD. She knows that something wrong with her but I just can't say what it is. What I should do?

Post 4

Truthfully, I think it is impossible for anyone to co exist with PAPD with narcissism. As for being codependent, that just entangles you with the person out of guilt or confusion. (maybe if I communicate better, or maybe I should have acted differently etc) We codependents make excuses for our bad behavior and even take the blame for them, which is right up their alley as most PAPD, as well as narcissists, never take responsibility for their own actions. It is simplly never their fault, ever.

My story is long but I have finally started putting boundaries in my life and allowing others to get angry about them even if that means the PAPD ex husband may accidentally wreck my

car, or forget to pick up the child from school or even poison our child against me. Some feel I am overactive in my journey, but once you have seen how underhanded PAPD narcissism truly is, you tend to sleep with one eye open.

Many years ago, I was going through chemo treatments, my liver began shutting down and my urine was turning mud brown. At this point, my own reasoning skills were non existent. A family member came for a visit to check on me. She told me months later that she had harshly told him to get me to the hospital and I was dying. Due to his disorder and his "you are not the boss of me" mentality, he waited five days to check me in. My body was dehydrated to 92 pounds and I was put in quarantine with dying patients. I walked out five days later, eight pounds hydrated and on my way to recovery. For people to pretend this disorder is inane is naive. Be warned: you will never be able to communicate and have a symbiotic win-win relationship.

Post 3

Anon127272- I hope things work out for you. You must be going through a tough time. I just wanted to say that dealing with people that have this disorder is difficult, but it is a real problem for a lot of people.

I know that there is treatment for passive aggressive behavior that often involves psychotherapy and antidepressants.

People diagnosed with passive aggressive personality disorder as well as those that receive a borderline personality disorder diagnosis do have suicidal tendencies and have to be treated right away.

Although it is a draining condition for both the patient and the therapist, these patients resort to harming themselves as a way to deal with misplaced anger.

Post 2

I know that it is difficult dealing with passive aggressive people because they seem to have a hidden agenda.

You can never really feel comfortable with them because they almost always seem upset about one thing or another. For example, if you buy a present for a passive aggressive person and they do not like it, they may act like the gift is acceptable but later on they will act in a negative manner with you and then will tell you that nothing is wrong.

These people are so hard to figure out because they never mean what they say. When I see that a person has passive aggressive traits, I try to avoid dealing with them because life is too short to try and figure these passive aggressive people out.

Post 1

The description of PAPD is right on for my husband, with tendencies toward narcissism, although not a full blown narcissist. Being a recovering co-dependent, I am having a difficult time living with him since my co-dependency has been brought forward. I hardly think the two can quietly co-exist.

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