A “new” personality disorder?


I’ve heard of Passive Aggressive (Negativistic) Personality Disorder before, but it’s not currently recognized by the DSM. I think it should be added because I know people like this. In many ways it resembles narcissism, but some of the well known traits of narcissism are lacking, such as arrogance and grandiosity. It also resembles Paranoid Personality Disorder in some ways, without the schizoid traits. Passive-aggressives can be quite manipulative. They are well known for giving the “silent treatment” and sabotaging others. A person who complains constantly, is never satisfied, always sees the glass as half empty, and openly envies the more fortunate would probably qualify.

Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder
From “Personality Disorders Revisited” (450 page e-book) – by Sam Vaknin

Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder is not yet recognized by the DSM Committee. It makes its appearances in Appendix B of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, titled “Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study.”

Some people are perennial pessimists and have “negative energy” and negativistic attitudes (“good things don’t last”, “it doesn’t pay to be good”, “the future is behind me”). Not only do they disparage the efforts of others, but they make it a point to resist demands to perform in workplace and social settings and to frustrate people’s expectations and requests, however reasonable and minimal they may be. Such persons regard every requirement and assigned task as impositions, reject authority, resent authority figures (boss, teacher, parent-like spouse), feel shackled and enslaved by commitment, and oppose relationships that bind them in any manner.

Whether these attitudes and behaviors are acquired/learned or the outcome of heredity is still an open question. Often, passive-aggression is the only weapon of the weak and the meek, besieged as they are by frustration, helplessness, envy and spite, the organizing principles of their emotional landscape and the engines and main motivating forces of their lives.

Passive-aggressiveness wears a multitude of guises: procrastination, malingering, perfectionism, forgetfulness, neglect, truancy, intentional inefficiency, stubbornness, and outright sabotage. This repeated and advertent misconduct has far reaching effects. Consider the Negativist in the workplace: he or she invests time and efforts in obstructing their own chores and in undermining relationships. But, these self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors wreak havoc throughout the workshop or the office.


People diagnosed with the Negativistic (Passive-Aggressive) Personality Disorder resemble narcissists in some important respects. Despite the obstructive role they play, passive-aggressives feel unappreciated, underpaid, cheated, and misunderstood. They chronically complain, whine, carp, and criticize. They blame their failures and defeats on others, posing as martyrs and victims of a corrupt, inefficient, and heartless system (in other words, they have alloplastic defenses and an external locus of control).

Passive-aggressives sulk and give the “silent treatment” in reaction to real or imagined slights. They suffer from ideas of reference (believe that they are the butt of derision, contempt, and condemnation) and are mildly paranoid (the world is out to get them, which explains their personal misfortune). In the words of the DSM: “They may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical and contrary.” They are also hostile, explosive, lack impulse control, and, sometimes, reckless.

Inevitably, passive-aggressives are envious of the fortunate, the successful, the famous, their superiors, those in favor, and the happy. They vent this venomous jealousy openly and defiantly whenever given the opportunity. But, deep at heart, passive-aggressives are craven. When reprimanded, they immediately revert to begging forgiveness, kowtowing, maudlin protestations, turning on their charm, and promising to behave and perform better in the future.

Click here to read about passive aggressive bureaucracies and collectives: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/personalitydisorders36.html#pacollect

9 thoughts on “A “new” personality disorder?

  1. I always find these people to be covert Narcissists. I can see the body language and it is the same. Their eyes can’t lie as well perhaps. At least when the hate or envy is so strong, they scream it way too loudly, just by glare.

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        • LOL. An ex of mine had big black bushy eyebrows. When he glared, which was several times a day after the love bombing stopped, his thick wooly eyebrows would go way above his glasses, high up on his forehead… I wish I had taken a picture of that, he looked so ridiculous. Mean and ridiculous, both at the same time.

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          • LOL! You should see my ex’s eyes. He’s not a passive aggressive or a covert N, he’s a fullblown malignant narcissist with an antisocial PD dx.
            He used to be really good looking. Now his eyes have all but sunk into his head so all you see are slits. He always had deep set eyes, but man, looking at him is creepy. I can’t look at his face anymore. Shudder.

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    • Yikes…!
      I can see how this could be taken as covert narcissism. I think coverts are better at hiding their negativity though. If this disorder gets accepted, I bet it will be added to the Cluster B disorders (and covert narcissism, which also isn’t recognized by the DSM may be included under this disorder instead).

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  2. I was thinking about this post after I read it earlier today. My daughter, who is pretty awesome now, went through a passive-aggressive phase when she was a kid that was absolutely maddening. For example, any time she was getting ready to go somewhere, like to school or church, when I would tell her that she needed to hurry — she would visibly SLOW WAY DOWN. She looked like a movie that was playing in slow motion! Infuriating!!

    I would tell her again that she really needed to hurry to keep from being late. “I am hurrying, Mama,” she would answer in a sweet little voice — while slowing down even more! Grrr!!

    I guess it’s normal for kids to go through a phase like that when they are trying to grow up and assert their independence. But when adults do it, especially when your partner does it…. OMG!

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