Passive Aggressive Anger

It is relatively rare for a person with implosive anger to become explosive, but if they do they can unleash torrents of anger for all the years they have swallowed their rage and turned it in on themselves. Some psychologists tend to label implosive anger as passive aggressive anger and others view it as covert psychological control. Passive aggressive anger leaves the targeted person confused, feeling guilty, wondering what is going on, and sometimes irritated. Passive aggressive people may not even realise that they are showing anger, but they are beset by troubled personalities, and are irritable, sarcastic, quarrelsome, cranky, embittered and moody. They may not even understand what anger is. They possibly learned it as children in a home where a controlling parent would not allow others to express their feelings or their anger, sometimes seeing it as disobedience or a threat to their control. The lethal result of such control is that the anger becomes contained internally and expresses itself in a masked way. While passive aggressive people may seem pleasant and greet you with a smile, their anger flows beneath, and they put the knife into you in an indirect way. It has been described as sugar-coated hostility. Mike Fisher calls it the velvet dagger. Passive aggressive people are often ‘winder-uppers’ and provoke anger in others by their sarcasm. One writer describes them as harbouring vindictive intent beneath a seductive veneer. Passive aggressive people are neither able to show aggression nor assertiveness openly, but cannot always conceal their burning anger.
It is helpful to know at least some of the behaviours of people with passive aggressive anger. They use long periods of silence, where communication is replaced by sourness, withdrawal and angry expressions. They are frequently uncooperative in helping with household chores causing irritation in partners and creating an atmosphere of tension, which is detrimental to children. They can be deliberately forgetful and even apologise for this, causing doubt and confusion in others. Being deliberately late is sometimes used. This gives them a sense of control over others and points to the irresponsibility of passive aggressors, who prefer to blame other people for their own mistakes. They have an unerring instinct to press the most sensitive buttons arousing rage in others. Many are manipulative, devious, co-dependent, insincere, gossipy, dishonest and false. This is only a brief summary of passive aggressive behaviours, which are dealt with in more detail by Cathy Meyer and Mike Fisher.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018

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