The Passive-Aggressive Narcissist

Although the classic narcissist is often thought of as charming, boisterous and positive (in public), they can also reflect traits of the passive-aggressive personality.

They can be negativistic in outlook, blame others and engage in frequent complaining and whining.

Narcissists will tell you that they will do something, but if they don’t want to do it for whatever reason, they won’t- just like the passive-aggressive personality.

There are some narcissists who never display the charming, boisterous façade but only the negative personality (along with lack of empathy and other defining characteristics of NPD).

A narcissist can have mild or occasional passive-aggressive traits or they can be a narcissist with a full-blown passive-aggressive personality.

Passive-aggressive personality

A passive aggressive personality is considered (according to DSM-IV, Appendix B) when an individual demonstrates “a pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance as indicated by four (or more) of the following”:

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

Traits of the passive-aggressive personality are similar to some of the significant traits of narcissism.

Passive-aggressive individuals tend to feel misunderstood, under-appreciated, underpaid, and often claim they have been cheated.

They consistently play the role of victim or martyr and blame others for their failures or misfortune. They chronically complain, whine and criticize.

The passive-aggressive personality frequently sulks or engages in the “silent treatment” in response to slights, real or imagined.

They usually are mildly paranoid believing that they are the butt of derision and contempt and that the world is out to get them.

“They may be sullen, irritable, impatient, argumentative, cynical, skeptical and contrary” (DSM). Like narcissists, people with passive-aggressive personalities are envious of those who have “more” than they do or are in a higher position; they are even envious of those who are happy.

They will boldly vent their envy openly whenever they have the chance (although never to the person they are venting about).

However, their boldness ceases if they are chastised or held accountable for any of their behaviors; they literally beg for forgiveness, weepingly protest, turn on the charm, and/or promise to behave in the future.

That sounds uncannily similar to a narcissist when he is “caught” or held accountable.

So how and where does passive-aggression overlap with narcissism?

Traits common to narcissists and passive aggressive personalities

  • Negativistic outlook (many narcissists won’t exhibit this in public)
  • Use denial  as a frequent defense mechanism
  •  Manipulate and distort facts
  • Do not accept (or recognize) their own feelings, actions or responsibilities
  • Passively resist doing any routine, expected tasks (narcissists feel they are “above” this or will only do them if it gets them Narcissistic Supply)
  • Blame others for anything and everything wrong in their lives
  • Commonly complain of not being appreciated, misunderstood or under-valued
  • Exaggerate their misfortunes
  • Do not consider or care about other people’s feelings (although they will insist that they do)
  • React with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined.

Tips for dealing with the Passive Aggressive Narcissist

Don’t feel guilty
No matter how much they will try to blame you for the misery and wretchedness in their lives, do not fall into their guilt trap.

They are solely responsible for the choices, behaviors and feelings that have led them to where they are.

You are not responsible for anyone’s feelings, thoughts or behaviors except your own.

Reading Suggestion: How To Annoy a Passive Aggressive Person?

Don’t continue the game
Passive-aggressive narcissists have not learned how to deal with conflict, effectively or ineffectively.

Instead, they will revert to using the primitive defense mechanism of Denial or turn the tables on the other person by placing total blame/responsibility on them (or on someone else).

For example, if they stand you up when you were supposed to meet or “forget” to do a task they agreed to do (at home or at work), they will either deny they ever agreed to it or blame someone or something(s) for it.

A passive-aggressive narcissist will never take responsibility for his or her actions.

Don’t continue this game by arguing “the truth” or trying to persuade them.

You won’t win. Express your concerns and feelings (how their actions made you feel) but do not waver from the fact that they did not do what they were supposed to do.

Ignore their denial and blaming and state the consequences. Then stick to them.

Confront the behavior
Many people choose to ignore the passive-aggressive behavior hoping it will disappear with time.

Ignoring passive-aggressive behavior actually increases the behavior because it reinforces the idea that the behavior is acceptable.

Instead of letting the person continue the unwanted behavior, confront them privately in a calm, matter-of-fact voice.

Let them know you are puzzled or disturbed by their behavior. You may want to consider telling them that if they want the relationship to continue, they must stop the passive-aggressive behavior.

However, unless they are financially dependent on you, this often relieves passive-aggressive narcissists as they really don’t want, and are not capable of, any kind of genuine relationship.

Leave the relationship
If you are unfortunate enough to be in a relationship with a passive-aggressive narcissist and you sincerely desire happiness, you need to leave. 

If you are in business and have unwittingly hired a passive-aggressive employee, you know by now how toxic and disruptive they can be to the work environment.

You may have lost good employees who left the business or department after they were forced to work in that negative environment.

If at all possible, fire them or get them to quit. It’s actually not difficult to get a passive-aggressive narcissist to quit their job.

You need only to start enforcing the everyday, expected rules – being on time for work, completing a time card, finishing what you start, etc.

The passive-aggressive narcissist will be unable or unwilling to comply and will usually quit under the pressure. If not, they can be fired when they violate the rules of the employee contract.

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Alexander Burgemeester

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. Want to know more?

53 thoughts on “The Passive-Aggressive Narcissist”

  1. Helpful article! It reinforces the approach I have been taking, which seems to be effective so far. But I’m not sure if the person is just startled at this point or truly subdued by being held accountable by means of calm, clear communication that consistently ignores the blame/self-pity tacks.

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

    PS: In your bio, change the word “nursery” to “nursing.”

  2. Interesting article! But I think Passive-aggressive personality disorder is actually narcissistic personaly disorder. I mean they are one and the same. If you read Karen Horneys description of what she calls persons “Going away from others”, you will se that there is no such a thing as passive-aggressive disorder. What Horney described is called nowadays “Vulnerable Narcissism”! In psychiatric litterature one can read about co-morbidity and for exemple Millon writes that Passive-aggressive disorder can mimic many other disorders. But it seems to me that it is narcissism which is the mimicing one! Right from the start when I read About PAPD, I could see that everyting about PAPD was already said by Horney. As you know PAPD was removed from DSM-IV to Appendix B. Best Regards.

    • A passive aggressive personality is considered (according to DSM-IV, Appendix B) when an individual demonstrates “a pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance….

      In my opinion, not all narcissists fit this definition, so PAPD (which is very real whether it is within another personality disorder or not) and narcissism are not one in the same. In my reading, I have come across the term “covert narcissist” that describes a narcissist who is also passive aggressive.

      Furthermore, if you have ever been unfortunate enough to find yourself living or working with one, you would probably agree with me that it is very disturbing that PAPD was removed to Appendix B. Unless a person totally understands PA behavior, they will never be able to rid themselves of those people who constantly exhibit manipulative vindictive behavior toward those they are suppose to love or work with but pretend they have good intentions. PA people are truly the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    • Russ:

      I think I understand what you’re saying, but I have interpreted this a little differently. Passive Aggressiveness is really a behaviour, whereas NPD is a personality disorder. I look at it like PA is the modus operendi of the NPD person. I think a good way of looking at this too [and I could be wrong too, but I’ll try anyway :-)], is that many people who suffer from various personality disorders may exhibit passive aggressivetendencies, but not everyone who exhibits PA behaviour necessarily has NPD.

      What amazes me most about these discussions though is not that everyone seems to have had similar experiences as me when confronting narcissism…they have had the EXACT same experiences as me :-). How does that happen? Did all these narcissists take the same narcissist courses at school, or perhaps attend the same conventions LOL.

      • This perplexed me too. It’s as if there is a narc playbook they all use. The narc I knew has PA behavior over the top! It was his primary operating behavior and he would do it to retaliate against what he perceived to be even the slightest injury to his false self. after awhile you catch on to their tactics. They are pretty dang messed up and disordered people. This is how I figured out he was a narcissist. From the PA behavior. Because PA behavior is not a disorder rather a symptom of the narcissist disorder. PA behavior is a symptom of much deeper issues and indicates a cluster b disorder.

      • I totally agree with your view that not all people who exhibit PA behavior have NPD.

        Regarding your statement about people who are experiencing the effects of a narc, I, too, am amazed at how the experiences are spot on. I feel liberated, in a way, and hopeful because. . .I AM NOT ALONE. There is power in finding my people.

        I’m going to be implementing strategies I discovered before splitting from my NPD husband. I know I have the strength to confront and the patience to wait out the tantrums. My husband responds well to me WHEN I stand up to him, but it takes a while. And it’s best if I just let him stew about a situation, then its better. He never says that he’s sorry, but his behavior changes.

        Wish me luck.

        • I too live with one. His behaviour hasn’t changed but he thinks I won’t pick up his subtle ways. Walking with a group of my friends, he straggles behind me. Looks harmless but it is his way of letting people know how I ignore him. It upsets him when I keep calling for home to walk with us instead of on his own for pity because I am terrible. He won’t say everything so he can go back later and say I wouldn’t let home say such and such which is really not true. But it gets him sympathy.
          I really thought I was an intelligent person. It has taken me 25 years to unseat and why people abuse me and feel sorry for him. He appears so nice even to me. But behind my back he sets a scene.

          I am distraught. It’s like I’m living a nightmare. I’m looking at someone else. He is “nice” all the time but has no feelings for anyone but himself. The niceness fooled me. I’m having counselling.

          • You are not alone- I was married to this same exact thing for 23 years . It took several health issues and what I can only call a psychological breakdown of horrendous proportions and prayer for the truth before I finally saw what was going on. He would do the same walking behind thing and all kinds of other weird behaviors meant to appear as if I was a tyrant over him, and if I said anything, I was even more the bad guy, especially in public. God it was nightmare!
            I am so glad I am not with him anymore. My life is very lonely now, but at least I don’t have anyone manipulating or abusing me (except at work-lol)

        • Dear Tina, After about 20 years of marriage I realized my husband was PA. At the time I didn’t think or know how to look it up on the computer, approx. 2001. I have a strong personality even though I suffer from depression so believed I could handle it. Fast forward to 34 years of marriage and I googled it. My first reaction was I wanted to kill him!! OMG, things I hadn’t ever considered that he had done intentionally I now realized that he most certainly did. He was trying to destroy me and if our children got hurt in the process, oh well!
          He had the career, I was discouraged from finishing college, so he has the 401K, and 2 pensions. It was not be in my best interest to leave him after 34 years. I had to set new ground rules and I have to be ever vigilant because he will never change. I even confronted him on more than one occasion, of course he denies it.
          My strong advise to you, Tina, is prepare yourself for an independent life and get out as soon as possible. There will never be any fun times, stress and disappointment will be almost daily.

  3. That article gives also behaviour of abused persons, so is a person condemned passive-agressive, because they have been taught since birth that they feelings and opinions don´t matter. Or that any assertiveness is a no-no, and considered rebellion.

    Because I´ve done all those listed things, and my parents did them, except criticism of authority was unreasonable criticism of me. So that list also provides nice list of ammo for abuse too.

    And no, this was not meant to be passive-agressive outburst, I´m just upset about the fact that every quirk seems to labeled major disorder.

    • Not all so called abuse, in the passive aggressive eyes is really abuse, it is an excuse for the passive aggressive to blame someone for his behavior, and make mommy suffer for his maladjusted evil personality traits. I will bet if someone, or that mother who you blame for child abuse ask you to sit down and talk to her about the child abuse you feel that you received, you would not, because you could not because you know that the mother would see through you right away because you would have to make up lies about the child abuse. No you are just evil and you enjoy destroying people even your mother, and God will make you suffer as well.

      • Actually, what Chris says does make sense. I fell in love with a man who displayed narc behaviors. He was frequently verbally abusive. “I’m just joking” was often the line I heard. He was also married. For ten years I heard about how awful his life and marriage was yet he never changed it. He would become hurt if I didn’t return phone calls or wasn’t “mushy” enough, claiming I didn’t love him enough, or respect him. I would explain that I didn’t feel right doing so because of his marriage. He had a very low patience threshold. For instance, one night I said I would call after a movie was over but it ended later than expected. I sent a text instead. The text didn’t go through until later the next day so then he gets angry and hurt bc I didn’t call. If explain a normal event like this, I am accused of “making excuses” and not showing respect. This happens frequently with events that no one else I know would get upset about. I work and this man will know my work shift hours, yet call repeatedly during my shift then get upset bc I don’t respond until after work. I will be driving and he’ll call and then get upset I didn’t answer until later when safer to respond. Over time you realize no matter what you do or say, you are the wrong one. Recently his wife started murmuring about divorce after he spent three days in psych ward for a fake suicide attempt that he admits he did for attention. He amped up the pressure about us moving in together, and the frequency of calls increased along with his complaints of my not responding as he would like. He also gave a lengthy apology for his previous “jerk” (what he always called me) behavior blaming it on his life situation. What you need to understand – that Chris tried to explain – is that eventually you are frozen into a position of feeling damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Or that your efforts are never enough. He’s being very nice lately, but what he doesn’t understand is that there was so much damage previously from the way he treated me, that I had shut down to some degree and didn’t even know how to respond to this “new guy”. In the past, the niceness never lasted before I did something wrong in his book, and he’d blast me, call me names, tell me to go away, etc. He does admit to abandonment issues, so I’ve not abandoned him. But ironically, what are normal life circumstances (a phone not charging, working, running errands, driving, eating lunch or giving attention to any other person) are seen as slights and any resulting explanation as an “excuse” to the point that you are perceived as passive aggressive, not caring, disrespectful, etc. You are requested to give certain types of attention so that the spontenaity of doing so on your own is taken from you and becomes a duty rather than a desire. Rote rather than romance. Damping the flame rather than feeding it. And not only do I have this person in my life who behaves in this manner, but another one as well. She too becomes easily angered if I don’t call back in the timeframe she thinks I should. She is very lonely and depended heavily on me to fulfill certain needs. An aspect of these persons is the huge amount of talking they do, dominating conversation. They need to be heard, and I’m a good listener. Over time, though, I wonder if a subconscious avoidance develops that bleeds over into your life becoming a bad habit. Or if your brain becomes overloaded with a form of anxiety that lays below the surface making you not as functional as you were before these people came into your life. The hallmark of true passive aggressive behavior is the INTENT to hurt another. If that intent is not there, then that person is NOT being passive aggressive but is most likely suffering from treatment they received that created their behaviors. If you touch the stove and it burns you, how many times are you going to reach out to touch it again. You can’t online diagnose everyone without knowing the big picture.

    • I wanted to comment on your experience of abuse. My abuser often pointed the finger at me and labelled me narcissistic and sociopathic and yet engaged in such behavior.

      I remember she would list off these behaviors when it felt like 10 more fingers should be pointing back at her.

      She encouraged my brother to abuse me, and she put me in bad situations that to an outside person would seem like a kid “just acting out” but was illicited by a parent that knew exactly how to manipulate everyone around her.

      Another problem with an abuser they will cry victim to cover up for victimizing.

      I asked her to say sorry. She can’t admit it and blames my brother entirely and claims she wasn’t there. Other times she’ll accuse me of acting rude.

      Passive aggression can be a result of an environment where honesty can put you in a dangerous situation.

      When it’s as a result of narcissistic behavior it’s to shift blame and hide wrong doing.

  4. Chris

    While I can sympathize with your abuse–which most likely shaped your maladaptive personality (and make no mistake, if you identify with these traits, your personality is maladaptive)–I can tell you, being married to, parenting and now divorcing a passive-aggressive narc is HELL.

    You are correct: Most personality disturbed people (Narcs, Borderlines, Anti-socials, et al) WERE abused as children. It is unfortunate. However, it IS NOT AN EXCUSE for malignant, maladaptive, passive-aggressive and vindictive behavior toward others.

    I’ll give you my story, and a word of caution: If you do not address any traits of passive-aggressive narcissism, this can happen to you.

    My STBX was horribly abused physically, emotionally and psychologically by his mother (who is borderline). To this day, despite his attempts to distance himself from her, he still LONGS FOR HER LOVE, and this inability to ever have this, angers him, and drives his pathological need to hurt others. What’s sad is that She will NEVER give him this–as (guess what) SHE WAS ABUSED BY HER MOTHER and lacks the empathy required for human attachment. As such, he will go the rest of his life, transferring his anger and pain onto others. Most likely intimate partners.

    While I can (and do) empathize with his abuse, I NO LONGER GRANT HIM IMMUNITY WHEN HE CHOOSES TO HARM OTHERS.

    As I told my STBX: “What happened to you is horrible, yet I DID NOT CAUSE THIS; and I will no longer be made the target of your misplaced anger.”

    Unfortunately, his maladjusted and malignant passive-aggression has cost him his family, his marriage, his reputation, his financial security, et al. While tragic, it has cost me my self-esteem, my health (psychological and physical), my financial standing (as he’s maliciously attempted to destroy my credit, INCLUDING DEFAULTING ON A FEDERAL TAX REPAYMENT), my friends, and my career. Now I do NOT blame him solely, as I CHOSE to place myself second to him, thinking I was being a “good wife”; and not realizing that I was actually supply for a passive-aggressive narcissist. Yet, when I could no longer blindly excuse his cruelty, and decided to divorce him, he has rewritten history, made himself the victim, and completely blames me for EVERYTHING that went wrong in our marriage. Hence, justifies any mistreatment from him to me during the divorce (which, is only MY misinterpretation of his behavior, BTW).

    So, while I *get* that he’s abused, he’s also a 41 year old medical professional AND HAS NOT SOUGHT PROFESSIONAL HELP NEEDED TO HEAL.

    He is very well aware of personality disorders and at some point, he needs to take responsibility for his own pain, and HIS TRANSFERENCE of his pain onto others in his immediate family. Since I don’t ever see this happening–as he BENEFITS from passively-aggressively frustrating, manipulating and hurting others– I have no sympathy for him. I just want him out of my life.

    And if you do NOT address any passive aggressive personality traits, this can unfortunately happen to you.


    • TISH ,

      Thankyou for sharing that . You have just made me open my eyes . I was also seriously abused by my mother exactly how you described your STBX . It was and is absolute hell .
      I have lost two partners who i loved and i couldn’t really control how i acted , and although i didnt want to believe what i was doing i knew i was re-acting out what i knew best .
      Just to keep it short , i suppose the abused becomes the abuser . No matter how hard i try not to do it the monster creeps out eventually .
      My mother was a trully awfull person , i’ve never heard another person say such degrading , spiteful and evil things .
      hopefully you have atleast saved 1 person …… Me….

  5. Thanks for your opinion. In my experience, people who complain about passive-aggressive behavior are usually passive-aggressive themselves.

    • After years of living with a PA person, a person (who is usually co-dependent in the first place) will start to act passive aggressively because anything openly suggested to or done to a PA person will be met with resistance . What you have observed could simply be a survival mechanism.

      • Abbey you are so right. If your PA partner gives you the silent treatment to hurt you, what choice do you have except doing the same and waiting for things to “blow over.” Speaking out only widens the fissure, and prolongs the inevitable retaliation to be endured.

    • Passive aggressive people where it’s pervasive and constant is an indicator they have a personality disorder. Everyone has some tendencies to do pa behavior but a for a narcissist it’s how they operate to get their needs met. Pa behavior is behavior of very weak people who have a complete negative belief in their self. They do not know how to be assertive in a healthy way. So they resort to infantile behaviors to get their way. Narcissists are emotionally stunted. An emotional child in an adult body. Truly very sad. A grown adult that has to use tactics of a toddler. Very disturbing. They leave a trail of destruction. To watch a grown adult behave like a toddler is very bizarre.

      • Yes, it is bizarre to observe an adult behave like a toddler. My eyes have been open just recently to the characteristics of a person with NPD. All the descriptions I’ve read, and all the experiences that have been shared confirm my belief that my husband has NPD.

        Fortunately, I have also been researching how to deal with his personality disorder. It’s going to be tough, (kind of like putting your child on time-out and waiting through the kicking and crying, then the sniffling, then the silence which eventually leads to acceptance that in order to get out of time-out he has to conform to appropriate behavior) but I am willing to try the recommended strategies.

  6. In my opinion, everyone does some of this behavior sometimes. The P. A. that I was manipulated by, has the nicest demeanor to the outside world. He would make an excellent diplomat. Reading about P.A.behavior has helped me recognize it in the moment and avoid being manipulated. Until a person has been entirely taken over by these masters of manipulation the concept of passive- aggressive behavior doesn’t seem too abusive, important or valid to an outsider. This opinion of outsiders creates even more pain for the person living this type of confusing, covert abuse.

    • Exactly. Unless you experience it first hand it’s difficult to explain to an outsider. Often it’s so covert and passive aggressive that you do not know what’s happening until it’s too late. I canceled an outing with a narc once. I gave a days notice and it was due to things out of my control. Shit happens. I didn’t just blow him off. However I got the silent treatment for days and couldn’t understand why. Even when I confronted him he wouldn’t say what was wrong. He chose to attack me with childish behavior. toddkets behave better than narcissists. Narcs are pediment children without any discipline whatsoever. So sad. Imagine being in an adult body with the emotional mindset of a 3 year old.

  7. I had a passive-aggressive-narcissistic domineering Mother who demanded that her children never tell anyone outside of our home what she was like or what she did inside it – so she knew it was wrong.
    We covered for her because if not we were severely beaten, ridiculed, locked in closets or dark basements and much more. Outside of our home, I would not recognise her as the same person. She was wonderful. Her justification for treating her kids like this was that her husband wasn’t home enough, didn’t take her out enough, didn’t give her enough spending money etc..
    At age 4 I was treated for malnutrition because I went days without meals.
    As I grew older I began threatening to tell others about her if she didn’t stop.
    I even went next door for help a few times when she misbehaved. She would lie and shake her head in front of them saying I was so difficult. They comforted her. I was able to protect my two young brothers by telling others but insufficiently. My father didn’t believe what I told him about her abuse – I think it was too incredible for him although he was aware of her ‘spoiled brat’ behaviour, he couldn’t accept that she would be cruel to her kids. When he was around, she picked on him and was motherly toward us. He died at age 52, right after he phoned me to say he was sorry and I didn’t know what he was talking about at the time. He was a kind and generous man.
    She lived till age 92. She spoke to me about her treatment and apologised when she was in her late 60ies. I have to say she made a huge effort to be a reasonable person and her behaviour improved until she met a man and remarried – then he was her target. My daughter is just like her. My brothers require constant reassurance from their wives and are truly incapable of having a normal marriage. I assume I was passive aggressive early in my life but I truly don’t know and have been seeing psychiatrists since I was 17 in an effort to ensure my normalcy. I believe that I’m just a normal neurotic person now as I have been told I’m well adjusted and well balanced and I always monitor myself.
    It is undoubtably one of the worst personality disorders. The manipulation, deceit and controlling games are unbelievable -and they don’t care because everything only relates back to them. I rebelled and have defied and will not mistreat another because the thought of being like my Mother is not acceptable to me. The puzzling part is that if I can accomplish this by recognizing what I considered at the time to be a crazy Mother and then refusing to inherit and become the same, why can’t others? or is it why don’t others? My daughter was difficult from an early age. Arguing, being disobedient and being destructive. She would ask me for something and if I sad no, she would ask her grandmother who would smile at me and tell her yes. My Mother and I had fights over this but of course the answer was to get a better-paying job so I could get my own apt.. My husband btw, refused to remain married to me because of my Mom. I have taken training in applied psychology and more but cannot help my brothers now.
    My daughter treats anything she learns as a means to be more convincing in her con-artistry. She is governed totally by her wants and has a flare-up temper if she doesn’t get what she wants. She is 55 and never married. She will do anything for attention and considers herself an expert in everything and of course she is bossy.
    I am alone and know I will get no help from her as I age if I require any. I have to figure out what I can do for myself. My Mother left most to my brothers and the youngest of them tried to take or break what was left to me. He was 57. How sad is all of this. So many people hurt by a personality type.
    When I see the predestined lives of people when only one at the start is disordered and how it spreads like a cancer, I can’t help but wonder why it is taking so long to find the eraser. I live happily because I have many hobbies and a few good friends whom I value highly. I also write short stories that are humorous and they take me away while I write them. What will happen to my daughter and my brothers in their senior years? – And does it even matter, since nothing will ever be good enough for any of them anyway.

    • “The puzzling part is that if I can accomplish this by recognizing what I considered at the time to be a crazy Mother and then refusing to inherit and become the same, why can’t others?”

      My brother has shut down completely. My mother is Bi-polar, my father a functioning alcoholic. there is a long line of abuse in my family, my grandmother had bi-polar as well. I am the oldest, and female. It is REALLY hard to understand why some of us can stand up, fight, and try to hold our lives together, even shoot for happiness. I try to help my brother but he would rather punch me then look at me. He has told the counselor ‘My sister isn’t like me, she was able to get out and live her life.’.
      I have my Masters in Education, I know children have a lot of resilience, I think some of us have more then others. I have read about a lot of children who are victims in times of war, some fight for life while others sink into the background- it is amazing they ever live through it at all.
      I feel so sorry for your daughter. I want a child very much but know that she would have the same issues my mother had. I can’t have her suffer in that way so I will have to be happy with no children or adoption. It just seems so unnecessary.

    • Wow I understand everything you say. 33 years, didn’t see it I til ?I got sick in 2011. It magnifued 1000x when he suddenly had to take care of me. He alienated by children, my family and friends with his acting and trash talk behind my bavk. I stole his cell an read the texts he was sending family. I almost committed suicide when I read them but more because if the rep!ies. I have no one now, he’s even trying to manipulate my home nursing, but they don’t buy it, yet. Started a th blog page to journal my story but to help others know they’re not alone. All I do it cry anymore then get made fun of. That stress has taken its toll and now for last 3 weeks my left face is paralized. He makes fun of me so baf. I will not hurt myself and give him more power. My blog is Life with a Narcissist:a living hell. If you need to talk chevk.It out

  8. My ex and his new girlfriend (a former friend of mine) are both a bit like this. They’ve both got huge victim complexes and think the entire world is out to get them. But he’s very narcissistic and she’s more the sort that remains voluntarily helpless. Avoiding responsibility (neither of them wants to work, and she actually celebrated when she was declared unfit for work; he just never holds onto jobs for more than a few weeks, and always blames the management when he’s let go), don’t consider other people’s feelings (I was having a legitimate panic attack once outside of a crowded bar because claustrophobia. she came out and casually squawked to everyone who would listen that it was so crowded in there and she felt like she was going to have a panic attack. she talks about how she “might have one” pretty regularly, but as long as I knew her never actually did have one), and always talk about how bad things are for them (because LIFE IS HARD, YO.) They’re both awful, awful people, but a match made in heaven, I suppose. Although apparently he went through great lengths to make me jealous with his last girlfriend, and he’s doing it again with my former friend. Even though I don’t like her, I don’t want to see her get hurt by him. He also really hates my current partner, and will stare daggers at him every time they see each other out. Current partner’s fantastic though, just lets it roll off him and will have a good laugh about it once we’re out of earshot. It’s still really creepy and weird that exN is behaving this way towards my current partner, and that he’s still trying so hard to make me jealous. I hate to say it, but I’m always afraid what his next step might be. He knows how much I could lose if things go badly, and I don’t want to be afraid of him, but I am.

  9. I have a passive aggressive disorder and I go to thearpy. This article is trying to mash passive aggressiveness and narcissism as if they are one in the same. Yes, narcissists use passive aggression, but not all passive aggressive people are narcissists. Many people who are considered normal have some type of personality or behavioral disfunction. For whatever reason in their up bring, some can not relate or express emotions easily, and have to be dealt with differently. For this article to depict both these conditions as the same and say “leave them” …that’s real messed up and it seems cold. Am I wrong??

    • No you aren’t wrong obsession with being healthy and normal can also be psychotic. There are no easy answers. take care. love, understanding, choices

  10. Good read. Confusing subject. My mom is this confusing mix of dysfunction. Always having a physical crisis when anything is required of her, suddenly incapable of taking care of herself so someone will rescue her. A real pain in the ass whenever I needed an actual parent to help me, she always somehow ends up getting the help. When I then reject her by distancing, she is again the victim/martyr of a distorted version of facts in which I abuse/blame her. Its a damn nightmare. I am always better of without her. Asking for help from her always means more work for me and me taking care of her.

    the sheer number of times multiple waitresses have come over to console her because they delivered non vegetarian beans (which she didn’t order) which has now contaminated the rest of her plate…..all to be sent back….while they offer her anything to make it better and she sulks, “no thank you i’ll just do without” ( victim martyr)..drama! A grown woman, and,…most likely these outbursts occur when we are out to celebrate someone else’s birthday.

    I need a ride from a medical procedure, she is there, suddenly her back gones out and is unable to get out of the chair. I end up carrying her stuff, holding the door for her, asking her how she is doing…..on the way out of the procedure I needed help with.
    Then when I don’t play, and instead ask someone else to help me, she is again the victim. Telling stories of how I am blaming her when really she is just in such terrible pain.

    We’re it not so consistant over my 45 yrs with her, I might buy some of it. But the drama is so predictable and always results in her being back in the center…

    Then there is the sulking and silent treatment when sI try to call her out. First adamant denial of her part, then victim silence, then her hanging up. How dare I abuse her by bringing up facts! ……victim victim victim.
    I have survived. Never had kids because I always felt I already had one – and she is already more then I can bear.

  11. The author says that passive-aggressives (PA)
    “passively resist fulfilling routine social…tasks.” Doesn’t this apply to “simply not going” to family get togethers sponsored by an adult child’s undiagnosed presumed “narcissist” parent (labelled a narc by a child but not diagnosed professionally, (LNP) labelled narcissist parent)
    PA “complain of being misunderstood and under appreciated by others.” Doesn’t this include the attitudes of the adult child (AC) of LNP about the LNP and some members of family of origin (MFO)?
    PA “is sullen and argumentative.” Doesn’t this include the sullenness (negative affect of AC of LNP around the LNP, and MPFO, and the AC’s argumentative “attempts to confront” the LNP?
    PA “unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority.” Doesn’t this include the former authority of the LNP, at least from the LNP point of view?
    PA “expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate.” Doesn’t this include the resentment and child-envy of the AC of the labelled golden child (LGC) who is said by the AC to have been treated with more kindness, given more things by the LNP?
    PA “voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune” Doesn’t this apply to the AC who has diagnosed their LNP?
    PA “alternates between hostile defiance and contrition.” Doesn’t this apply to the AC who defies societal norms and sometimes state laws by “just leaving” and thereby refusing to see to the care for their aged LNP, while “feeling sad and
    guilty, and wishing it wasn’t this way”?

    I could go on throughout this article with similar questions. It seems to me there is a circle of amateur diagnoses in which everyone that a person dislikes or argues with can be amateur psyche-labelled and then gossiped about on online chat until the person labelling and chatting feels self- justified. The problem is that the general public isn’t qualified to diagnose other people in the first place. Don’t you ever wonder whether the labeller-chatter person’s point of view is wrong or dissembling?

    Aren’t you, AC’s, being narcissistic yourselves by self-qualifying as a psychiatrist so that you relieve your guilt of abandoning an elderly parent because you care more about yourself than another?

    Finally, “confront them privately” (so no one else can hear your accusations?) is this the same behaviornas a narcissist uses? Narcissists won’t exhibit this in public”
    “calm matter of fact voice” when inside you are really screaming at them? Dissembling again, and passive aggressive manipulation
    “let them know you are puzzled” when you actually are very angry seems dissembling and passive aggressive manipulation
    “if they want the relationship to continue, they must stop (what YOU have amateur-diagnosed as?) passive-aggressive behaviors” (while you self-justify your own manipulative behavior) threatening abandonment unless you get your own way, (“threatining abandonment to enforce” sound familiar?) and shut down their (however ignoble) self-expression!
    It all sounds a bit too much like getting some passive aggressive/narcissistic revenge for yourself, and/or passively and agressively relieving yourself of the societal responsibility of caring for, or arranging the care of, debilitated aging parents.

    I write this because I have amateur-Dx ‘d my own mother as a narcissist! Then I looked over a lot of these websites and realized that some of the narcissist behaviors seemed to be suggested to me as good to use to “control” my own LNP! I asked myself these questions first. It seems to be all a cycle of the same bad behaviors, at one time being seen as “symptomatic,”
    at another being suggested as a mechanism toward recovery. I don’t have any answers. Just what I feel are valid questions.
    questions. I write this to open some eyes.

    • The healthy person can use the power or control to protect themselves. A healthy person won’t exploit that control. Whereas leaving the power in the hands of a PA is a sure sign of carnage. If one has the choice, they’d run to the other side of the world. They’d at least have their sanity.

    • Ken you just tore shreds which was a very accurate description of how it works. Maybe just let those who know what is going on with their parents discuss for themselves thanks. That is not a list of questions but a heady annoying way of avoiding what is being said. Victims are not responsible for their own abuse.

  12. Confronting their behaviour does not work either. Every time I confronted my very passive aggressive narcissistic younger brother he would immediately retort with psychotic rage, and then start pointing out all of your faults, and blame you for everything. My extremely passive aggressive narcissistic mother was like this too (quelle surprise).

    Also, after you confront their bad behaviour they will also typically revert to some sort of punishment…usually this manifests as a form of “silent treatment”. When I was sharing a place with my younger brother it was like living with an 8-year old. Very frustrating.

    They will also hold a grudge against you for that confrontation, which can last a lifetime. My younger brother was ranting and raving one day about someone who had really aggravated him, and after he had cooled down I learned that the guy who angered him did so in high school…30 years earlier (I’m not kidding).

    I could literally write a book about those experiences with him and even more so with my mother. I will call it, “Carrie 2” :-).

  13. The article says to “confront their behavior”. You can’t confront them. They don’t care how it makes you feel. And they won’t take responsibility for their actions – so I disagree with that part of the article. Just LEAVE the relationship. That’s the only thing you can do. “Confronting” them doesn’t work.

  14. What about a family member who is Bi- polar and exhibits this personality. Maybe they are not bi-polar but have this type of personality and will not need drugs to get better.

    • If you have Bi-Polar than there should also be episodes of depression. This should distinguish the diagnosis with Narcissism. And someone who is manic often also brings himself in to problems where the Narcissist is able to protect himself.

  15. Narcissists use PA behavior constantly. I suppose it’s a form of their manipulation and control. And they know they are doing it. PA behavior is what toddlers do. Before they know how to assert their needs in a healthy manner. They pout etc to get their way. A narcissist silent treatment is akin to pouting. They can’t speak up in a healthy manner and they resort to this wimpy type behavior and it’s quite pathetic to see this in an adult. Narcissists are emotionally stunted and have not matured passed 3-5 years old emotionally. To see a grown man behave this way and he thinks he’s a “man” is quite a pathetic sight. They are condemned to live this way and it’s truly sad. Don’t keep them in your life as they don’t ever change. It’s a personality disorder. No cure. Very sad. People that choose to cater to a narcs bad behavior could benefit from seeking help as there could be behavioral issues with themselves. But that is treatable. A narcissist is not treatable even if they seeked treatment. Malignant pathological narcissism is a real disorder and they are psychopaths. They can only get their needs met by using control and manipulation. This a total and complete negative belief in ones self. They don’t have a true self. Only a false self. Narcissists in the cluster b is the worse personality disorder and these people are the vermin of society. Do not associate with them or bad things will happen to you.

  16. I honestly can’t agree with everything you wrote some of the information is to complex because people have pushed me in similar was which in return I get pissed off and get tired of being pushed over yet it sounds like a personality clash some people just can’t deal with others abusive behavior I get this crap on Facebook but it doesn’t make me a passive aggressive .You need to understand that people start fighting back because their sick of the bullshit .I’ve been there and most of it was man .Now it’s things like Facebook .Only for feeling frustration and asking for help I get attacked .

  17. I can’t believe I have been with this monster for 10 yrs and not see it. Finally out of pure accident, I discovered his cheating and lying and his well kept secret. I’m DONE!

    • Same here. I’ve been married to a narc who uses pa for 11 years and just thought we had “communication problems.” I finally discovered the lying and cheating. She isn’t even sorry — she blames me!! I wasn’t giving her enough attention. Every time I bought her a purse, she needed a better one the following week. I bought her 3 different engagement rings over the 11 years. We bought a house in 2014 and she wanted a bigger house in 2017. Everything was ALWAYS my fault. Eventually I started to believe it.
      She would use guilt to manipulate me into doing whatever she wanted. I supported the family while she went to school and the day she graduated she left me for the person she had an affair with. Problem is we have a 5yr old son so I will always have this in my life. Wish I would have found this article 10 years ago.

  18. I never leave comments……..almost never………but the comments regarding toddler like behavior….resonated so deeply with a man I know……also the inability to empathize with anyone else’s feelings………except their own……fits like a glove…… far as the npd just didn’t realize the passive aggressive was so aware of how much they harmed others and so enjoyed it………I am now thinking ….and thinking back to incidents, issues that suddenly fit the patterns described here, I always suspected. The narcissistic behavior before…….now it just fits the situation so well… someone abov

  19. I have just been diagnosed as Passive argessive and need to work on myself. The only thing that I’m thinking of is how hard it will be. Help

  20. i’m actually really confused. so all passive aggressive people are in some way narcissist? went though some articles on narcissism. what i understood that they try to take control of every part of your life telling you what to do or what not to do or taking decision in your stead. but PA people usually don’t even voice their opinion or what they want or what is making them uncomfortable.they are indecisive and irresponsible. so how narcissism and pa are similar?

    would really appreciate if someone helps me out here

    • Hi Tessa, Narcissism is not a disease. It is a collection of dtysfunctioning personality traits the narcissist use to protect his own ego. You can see every personality disorder as a scale from 0-10. Some people have very little of that trait and can function perfectly while others score very high and start to dysfunction. So yes, in fact every person has a bit of Narcissism inside him/her self. And because passive aggressiveness is a way for the Narc to keep control they are often seen together. But everybody has a bit of PA inside him/her.

  21. This is a good article. I’m starting to realize my husband is a passive-aggressive narcissist. He’s a workaholic (which research shows 50% are narcissists) and he uses his time only for himself. He stays at work until 11pm although his workday ends at 5pm. No other employees stays past their shift, only he does and he doesn’t get paid extra for doing so. On the weekends he spends no time with family and does no home maintenance which now is a huge problem. Basically our lives revolve on waiting for him to have 10 minutes to spend with us. He never eats dinner home, never participated in raising the kids but tried to be the fun dad splurging on gifts once in a blue moon, no vacations, no outings, nothing. Meanwhile I have held up the fort by myself and raised my kids as a single mother. If I speak to him about doing home maintenance, walking the dog, repairing something, or spending time at home he absolutely refuses and keeps living the way he always has. He expects others (me) to make this possible by providing him with meals, clean clothes, a maintained home, and all problems and issues solved so he doesn’t have to attend to any of that. Basically he is a ghost in our lives and shares time with no one but his job and friends. To make matters worse for years I asked why he was so late coming home and he’d lie about traffic or lie his boss made him work overtime. All that turned out to be false – obviously it doesn’t take anyone 6 hours to drive 11 miles home and his boss closes shop at 5pm.

  22. The narcissist ‘lets you’ speak only five or six words before they start yelling at you to “shut the fck up, you malingering piece of sht!” (At least, mine used to do this. They were an inescapable family member at the time). Thousands of times a year the narcissist would do this to me, and also every time I tried to say anything at all. They always wanted absolute silence from me. So NO, absolutely not, you don’t have time for ANY explanation.


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