What is passive aggression?

If some people openly show negative emotions, others suppress them and keep them to themselves. Passive aggression - a separate type of behavior, which has its own reasons. But such a phenomenon can and must be fought.

What is it?

What is passive aggression? It is the suppression of anger, the retention of it within yourself. Man is a living creature, which is characterized by emotions, and they must find a way out. But not all people show them: some show feelings and do not hide their anger, others suppress aggression. But it does not go anywhere, but becomes passive, invisible to others, but negatively influencing the psychological and emotional state of a person.

Interestingly, the term appeared during the Second World War and was introduced by William Menninger, an American colonel and part-time psychiatrist. Also in psychiatry there is the concept of passive-aggressive personality disorder, and this state is regarded as a deviation, contributing to a violation of the processes of adaptation and socialization, provoking the strongest stress and deviant behavior, that is, deviating from the generally accepted norms of morality.

Interesting fact! It is believed that men passive aggression develops more often than women. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the representatives of the weaker sex are more emotional and more often show feelings, and the strong half of humanity is prone to self-control and suppression of emotions.

Why does passive aggression arise?

The causes of passive aggression are different:

  1. Many psychologists agree that the passive-aggressive behavior develops in early childhood, when the child is forbidden to openly express emotions. Parents are unlikely to think about the consequences when they ask the child not to get angry or scream. But the child gradually gets used to suppress anger and in adulthood simply cannot openly show it.
  2. Character traits. People who are indecisive, apathetic, asthenic, weak, unsure are inclined to passive aggression. But at the same time, psychologists do not refer to hiding anger as character traits, since they can develop in adulthood (which is often the case).
  3. Constant stay in an environment in which it is impossible or not accepted to show emotions. Such conditions are formed in strict conservative or religious families, in political or diplomatic activities,in workplaces in organizations with strict rules, in military service, and so on.
  4. Strong influence of foreign or public opinion. If a person strongly and constantly worries about what others think about him, he will restrain emotions, especially negative ones. But anger is almost inevitable in everyday life, so it will be consistently suppressed and restrained that it will become a habit.
  5. Psychological dependence. If a person depends on someone (from a spouse, mother or father, employer), then he is afraid to demonstrate and even feel anger, constantly suppressing him.

How to recognize a passive aggressor?

The suppression of aggression changes a person’s behavior, his attitude towards others and life in general. Signs can be very different:

  • absent-mindedness, inability to concentrate and concentrate on something, to perform actions requiring increased attention;
  • lack of reaction to a negative from people around, silence in controversial or conflict situations;
  • disagreements and quarrels with people around them (usually with relatives) in everyday life, moreover, unreasonable and literally arising from scratch;
  • hidden sabotage (the person does not openly refuse to do anything, but as if he simply forgets about it or comes up with excuses and arguments);
  • positioning oneself as a victim, deliberately demonstrating resentment and one’s own weakness;
  • unwillingness to take responsibility, shifting it to others, frequent delegation of authority;
  • systematic non-fulfillment of requests, ignoring these promises;
  • constant postponement of cases, non punctuality;
  • unwillingness to make important decisions and make choices;
  • apathy, inaction, indifference;
  • blackmail and manipulation through instilling guilt feelings in others;
  • avoiding visual contact with opponents;
  • constant discontent, irritability;
  • sarcasm in words, undisguised dislike of others, irony in communication;
  • constant grumbling, discontent;
  • unwillingness to enter dialogues or abruptly stop them (especially in case of disagreement with the interlocutor);
  • depressions, unfounded fears, obsessive thoughts (including suicide).

How to solve a problem?

How to deal with passive aggression? If suppression of anger has become a habit, it will be difficult to get rid of it. But it is real, if you reconsider and change your behavior.Hidden aggressors are encouraged to express their opinions more often and at least sometimes if they do not show emotions, then openly talk about them so that others can understand the feelings.

But what to do when emotionality in the current conditions of life or work is not appropriate? You can look for alternative ways to get rid of the negative: playing sports, creativity, tearing the paper to shreds, a loud cry and so on. Giving an outlet to emotions, you will not keep them to yourself and accumulate.

If the passive aggressor understands that he cannot change on his own, then it is worth asking a psychologist or psychotherapist for help. The expert will help to find out the reasons for suppressing anger, teach you to get rid of the negative, openly express your opinion. To solve the problem, not only personal consultations are applied, but also group lessons that help learn to interact with people, not to be afraid of conflicts and disagreements.

How to behave with a person prone to passive aggression?

If the passive aggressor is one of the close people, it is important to competently build interaction with him. But how to behave in this case? Help recommendations:

  1. You should not openly provoke a passive aggressor, try to bring it to emotions. You need to be calmer and more indulgent.
  2. Do not try to manipulate an overwhelming anger man, dominate him.
  3. Do not impose your opinion, do not try to prove the truth.
  4. Do not force the aggressor to anything.
  5. Do not place a great responsibility on a person, do not demand to fulfill complex tasks, do not take promises.
  6. Some features of the behavior should be ignored, for example, frequent tardiness, indecision, absent-mindedness, irresponsibility.


Passive aggression and constant suppression of anger lead to negative consequences affecting not only the most hidden aggressor, but also the people around him. Negative emotions go nowhere, gradually accumulate and affect the psychological state of a person. He feels depressed and annoyed, begins to hate everyone around, faces problems in communicating with people.

Hidden aggression is reflected in all spheres of life. Absent-mindedness and detachment provoke errors in the performance of professional duties.There is a hostility towards colleagues and superiors. Restrained negative emotions are regularly manifested in everyday life and in family life. Suppressed anger provokes conflicts with close people, increased nervous irritability, depression. If emotions do not find a way out, personality disorders and deviations in behavior and suicidal thoughts develop. The outcome can be very deplorable if you do not take action in a timely manner.

Important! If aggression is constantly suppressed, then at one moment it can break out and lead to thoughtless actions - causing harm and pain to someone, or even murder.

Passive aggression can make life difficult not only for the aggressor, but also for his close ones. But the behavior can be changed if you make an effort and act systematically.

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