Passive aggressive behaviour

Passive aggressive behaviour is frequently misunderstood.  What it is, is indirect anger.  The person is unable to acknowledge to themselves that they are angry, so they push it away.  However, when a strong sentiment like anger is ignored/denied it has a way of surfacing as another behaviour.

If anger is seen in your family of origin as a “bad” thing or if a parent/sibling expresses inappropriate rage, we might try to stifle our feelings of anger at any cost due to the messages that we have been given as children.  The fear that if you express your valid feelings of anger that they will hurt someone else’s feelings or you will be punished for letting is show.

Passive aggression a covert way of “getting back at someone” without expressing or even in many cases recognising the anger they feel. It can be more damaging in relationships than genuine anger because it is always deniable and masked as something else which makes it very confusing and dysfunctional.

A narcissist could be “getting back at you” for something as mundane as asking for help to do some house work.  They will keep putting it off and if you push the request harder they will deliberately do the job badly so that you don’t ask them to help again.  Narcissists see people as objects to serve their needs, they don’t have to help or do mundane or unrewarded tasks.

Narcissists know that most people like to avoid confrontation, in fact they depend on it so they will go into a rage when asked to do something that they do not want to do.  With a rational person you can calmly discuss their passive aggressive behaviour in a meaningful and constructive way.  This is not the case with narcissists as they will see this approach as a criticism of them and will go into a rage to shut the conversation down and will then punish you at a later date for even suggesting that they might have “room for improvement”.

The best way to manage passive aggressive behaviour is to see it for what it is:

  • State in a neutral manner that you thought that that person might have done a job badly deliberately so that you don’t ask them to do it (or any other thing that they don’t like) again
  • Don’t get involved in an argument, it will be met with total denial
  • Don’t question their denial as they will only stick to their story with more determination
  • Repeat in a neutral manner what you think, if the same passive aggressive behaviour surfaces again

The narcissist may or may not change their behaviour, one thing that narcissists enjoy is the feeling that they are fooling someone, so they will not get such a “thrill” out of their passive aggressive behaviour if you can let them know that you can see it for exactly what it is, so they will not have “won” that point.

It is worth noting that if a narcissist cannot be passively aggressive with someone such as a boss or a figure of authority they will redirect that anger at someone else.

One other thing that will cause passive aggressive behaviour is to assume that a narcissist will pull their weight and behave like a team player.  They will see that as you trying to take them for granted and will be offended that you did not recognise their “superior status” and will want to punish you for that in some way.


Family System


A narcissistic family is a bit like being brought up in a war zone.  The narcissistic parent(s) have all of the power and money and because the children are hostage to them they have to obey the power source.   The parents send their children off to fight amongst each other with a hefty propaganda backing themselves up and perpetually whispering in their ears about suspicion, mistrust and questionable motivation about the behaviour/weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the others.

From a very young age the narcissist parent(s) will indoctrinate their children that collaboration amongst themselves is “bad behaviour” and therefore punishable.  All communication must go through HQ (triangulation), in this way all information can be censored and edited according to the needs of the parent(s).  As a child of a narcissistic family you are never really sure what your siblings are saying about you, so there is a constant air of suspicion, mistrust and secrecy.  It feels like your life is being spied on and that you could easily be double crossed.  The narcissistic parent will reward telling tales with praise, a treat or with that rare commodity of a narcissistic parent attention and even superficial affection.

If you do not conform, you will be labelled a rebel or traitor and will have to keep a very low profile to avoid narcissistic rage.  Your privileges will be far less than those of the siblings that collude with the parent(s).  If you try to move out of your hiding place in the hills, the other siblings will attack to keep you there, they will be determined to keep you in isolation in case you try to “steal” the privileges that have been bestowed upon them.  The family unit works as a system and if a scapegoat tries to move out of their role, it would leave it open for another member of the family and none of them want that, they are openly shown what happens if you do not comply to the whims of the parent(s).   So the family unit works like a laser treatment (attacking from all sides) to keep the scapegoat in his or her place.  The narcissistic parent(s) also have a vested interest in keeping their children in their allocated roles because they have trained them into their “job description” and it would take effort and energy to get another off spring to fulfil this “vocation”..

Essentially if you have grown up in a narcissistic family, danger management feels a lot more comfortable than peace.  A narcissistic parent will attack if s/he sees their off spring playing and chatting happily together.  They (the parent) didn’t receive any love and they do not like to see their children enjoy each other’s company.  Since they think that everything that happens is about them, their level of paranoia is very high if they are not the focus of attention.  If their children are getting on and playing/chatting happily together the narcissist sees it in two ways a) they are plotting and planning against the narcissist, b) if the children get on they could gang together and it will be much harder for the narcissist to control.  So it gives them pleasure (and a sense of relief) to see the tears well up in the eyes of their children when they pitch their children against each other, break up a fun game and shout abuse, because they have destroyed the comradery and put them back under control.  A narcissistic parent will see their children playing happily together as the withholding of narcissistic supply and as something that is being done to deliberately frustrate/exclude them from being the centre of attention and therefore a deliberate injury and a form of disobedience.

It looks like

  • You are sent out into the battle field to fight each other, with only the half-truth and lies that HQ has supplied to create the maximum disharmony amongst their off spring.
  • We are being spied on by those who you live with and all “information” that has been garnered about you will be relayed to HQ with the sibling’s own twist on their tale telling that serves their purpose the best.
  • If you request that your sibling does not inform HQ, it is a good way to make sure that they do it immediately
  • There will be a self-policing system within the family that always reports to HQ and strictly adheres to the designated roles in the family (golden child, scapegoat, lost child)
  • Children who do not mindlessly agree with HQ (rebels) are pushed out to the periphery, punished or ignored
  • The identity of the individuals within the family unit is denied as it is not in the interest of HQ. You will hear things like “We like/don’t like..”, “We always/never”,
  • Total indifference to the consequences that this sort of harmful chaos creates to the mental well-being of the individual. You are only programmed to think about the well-being of HQ
  • Any dissidence will invite a harder attack.
  • Any questioning, confusion or doubt about the “system” will be strongly reprimanded by the “system” and by HQ
  • No open negotiation, orders are barked, obedience demanded
  • Will put child’s life in physical danger for personal gain if necessary for HQ.


Parental Alienation


There are varying degrees of parental alienation when separating from a narcissist.  The most extreme cases are absolutely ruthless in trying to eliminate their ex from their child’s life.  When things get a bit rocky they will start a smear campaign that could go on for years.  They will depict themselves as the victim of abuse, neglect and cruelty and will do everything that they can to keep their child away from their ex.  The child will know very well that they are expected to take sides and will be told a whole lot of age inappropriate things (real or imaginary) about the ex.

Here are some of the faces of narcissism you can expect to see if you are fighting for custody (joint or otherwise).

  • They will bring up perceived wrong doings that happened years and years ago, as if it were yesterday.
  • They will be determined to get revenge for fighting them for the kids and not letting them have their own way (as is their entitlement!)
  • They are selfish to a jaw dropping degree. They do not listen to you, to figures of authority and will completely disregard the well-being of their child to make their point.
  • They see their child as their possession to do with what they like, however inappropriate.
  • They will fight to win, even if it means financial ruin for both parties

The goal of the narcissistic parent is to destroy the love that their child has for their other parent using their favourite tools of lies and manipulation.  There is absolutely no doubt, that this is emotional and mental abuse as the narcissistic parent will be determined to change the child’s perception of their other parent in a highly toxic and negative way.  This is an extremely sick and selfish parent who could inflict such damage on their own off spring.

A mature parent will set their anger and upset aside to protect their child from an argument that is not theirs and that they are not old enough to fully understand.   Not so with a narcissist parent, they will grab their child and throw them into the conflict, use them as a human shield and a comforter at the same time.   The ex will have grave difficulty trying to remove the child out of the conflict because once a narcissist is angry they do not care what they say or who they hurt – the game is on and they are there to win, even if it means destroying everything around them in the process.  There is absolutely no point in trying to talk reason to these parents because they will just up the bar.  They do not take responsibility for their own actions, so if the child is exhibiting signs of high anxiety it will not be the narcissist’s fault, it will be the ex’s.

The only way that you can parent at this stage is by being a normal parent who listens to your children’s fear, anxieties and insecurities.  If your child talks at you in the same mode as their narcissistic parent it is important to correct their behaviour immediately.  This can be difficult especially if you have limited time with your child and want it to be as pleasurable as possible.

A parent divorcing a narcissistic partner can be sure to expect:

  • Emotional and psychological immaturity, it will be like arguing with a four-year-old.
  • The issues that they say they have a problem with are rarely the real issues. It is their personalities that are the cause of most of the problems, something that they will absolutely refuse to even consider (it is never their fault).
  • They will absolutely refuse to take responsibility for any of their behaviour/actions or things that they said, it will still always be someone else’s fault (they made them do it etc.)
  • They will not be solution oriented as that is not the way their brain works and they enjoy the drama of a court case too much to bring it to a swift resolution. They absolutely refuse to compromise because they are “entitled” to get exactly what they want.
  • Limited or no self-awareness
  • Will very often play the role of the poor victim when in fact they are the aggressor/abuser
  • They will be unpredictable and inconsistent in their argument and will resort to total incoherence if they think it would serve them better

Feelings and emotion words

Pleasant Feelings
understanding great Playful calm
confident gay courageous peaceful
reliable joyous energetic at ease
easy lucky liberated comfortable
amazed fortunate optimistic pleased
free delighted provocative encouraged
sympathetic overjoyed impulsive clever
interested gleeful Free surprised
satisfied thankful Frisky content
receptive important animated quiet
accepting festive Spirited certain
kind ecstatic Thrilled relaxed
  satisfied wonderful serene
  glad   free and easy
  cheerful   bright
  sunny   blessed
  merry   reassured


loving concerned Eager impulsive
considerate affected Keen free
affectionate fascinated Earnest sure
sensitive intrigued Intent certain
tender absorbed Anxious rebellious
devoted inquisitive Inspired unique
attracted nosy determined dynamic
Passionate snoopy Excited tenacious
Admiration engrossed enthusiastic hardy
Warm curious bold secure
Touched   brave  
Sympathy   daring  
Close   challenged  
Loved   optimistic  
Comforted   re-enforced  
drawn toward   confident  


Difficult/Unpleasant Feelings
Irritated lousy upset incapable
Enraged disappointed doubtful alone
Hostile discouraged uncertain paralyzed
Insulting ashamed indecisive fatigued
Sore powerless perplexed useless
Annoyed diminished embarrassed inferior
Upset guilty hesitant vulnerable
Hateful dissatisfied shy empty
unpleasant miserable stupefied forced
Offensive detestable disillusioned hesitant
Bitter repugnant unbelieving despair
aggressive despicable skeptical frustrated
resentful disgusting distrustful distressed
Inflamed abominable misgiving woeful
Provoked terrible lost pathetic
Incensed in despair unsure tragic
infuriated sulky uneasy in a stew
Cross bad pessimistic dominated
worked up a sense of loss tense  


insensitive fearful crushed tearful
Dull terrified tormented sorrowful
nonchalant suspicious deprived pained
Neutral anxious pained grief
Reserved alarmed tortured anguish
Weary panic dejected desolate
Bored nervous rejected desperate
preoccupied scared injured pessimistic
Cold worried offended unhappy
disinterested frightened afflicted lonely
lifeless timid aching grieved
  shaky victimized mournful
  restless heartbroken dismayed
  doubtful agonized  
  threatened appalled  
  cowardly humiliated  
  quaking wronged  
  menaced alienated  



Some very obvious signs of narcissism


  •  They are very controlling, they like to control the people around them, their partners, friends and colleagues
  • They do this through pathological lying, inventing false support groups that “back up” what they say, tell you that other people said nasty things about you behind your back, specifically to create suspicion and confusion within a specific group so that they can control it better
  • They enjoy other’s misfortune and conversely are very envious of any perceived success, it is for this reason that they find it very hard to celebrate other people (even birthdays, weddings and births not to mention promotions at work or successful projects)
  • They have absolutely no interest in how you are. Their investment is exclusively in what you can do for them.  So if you are depressed, lost your job or grieving they will not come near you until you are useful again.  If they do call you, you know that there is no authenticity in their fake concern and it will be very easy to hear the apathy in their voice.
  • They never get anything wrong or make any mistakes, it is always someone or something else that is at fault
  • They always have to feel “better than” everyone else. They do this by telling you who they are, rather than let their behaviour inform.  They brag, name drop, will tell you that other people think that they are richer, more beautiful and talented than practically everyone.  This narrative seems to be as much to reassure the narcissist as it is used to convince others of their superior status
  • They need to belittle others to feel okay about themselves
  • They are very aggressive if they are threatened in any way. This comes in the form of:
  1. Name calling
  2. Intimidation
  3. Threats
  4. Sneering
  5. Controlling
  6. Being sexually inappropriate/predatorial in comments and touching
  7. Deliberately humiliating or embarrassing people in public
  8. Jeering
  • A complete inability to see any situation from any perspective other than their own. If they have not experienced something first had – it doesn’t exist, if it doesn’t affect them – it isn’t happening
  • If they have done something or don’t like something about themselves they will disown it and project it onto someone else. They will also blame other people for the fact that they are unhappy, unsuccessful, their relationship failed etc. (it can never be their fault)
  • They are very happy to play the victim role and will indulge in it liberally with anyone who will listen, they will also use it as a ploy in their many smear campaigns
  • They will try to brainwash people around them into seeing things from their perspective, this is purely an exercise in control and they do this very simply by repeating the same lie again and again and again.
  • They will do everything that they can to make you doubt your reality. This again in a technique they use to try to exhort control over other’s perceptions
  • They are horrendous bullies, they do this by yelling, insulting, feigning deep offense at some innocuous comment
  • They never see anyone as anything other than a resource to get their own needs met. They will violate every boundary and exploit a person’s emotional generosity, their naivety (in thinking that the narcissist has good intentions – they don’t), they will take and break “stuff” and above all they will do everything that they can do to destroy your reputation.  They will do this with absolutely no remorse what so ever.


Main fears of a narcissist

  • Fear of abandonment, being over looked or neglected.
  • Fear of loss of control/being out of their comfort zone
  • Fear of loss of resources, financial, material goods, social status or whatever currency they value.
  • Fear if appearing or feeling inadequate, out of their depth, “less than” or “just good enough”, they always want to feel superior.
  • Fear that someone(s) will see them for what they are really like.
  • Fear of intimacy

To protect their false persona, they will use means at their disposal to build up a defence against their fears.  They will lie, use smear campaigns, get others to do their dirty work for them.  All the while they will act as the victim of the person(s) they consider a threat.  If you feel compassion for them they will use it against you.  The reality is the nastier and more aloof you are from them the nicer they will be to you.