Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder - Signs, Symptoms and Behaviors

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What is passive aggressive personality disorder (PAPD)?

Also known as negativistic personality disorder, individuals with PAPD appear to comply or act according to the needs or desires of the situation. However, in reality they behave negatively and passively resist doing so. Individuals with this condition resent taking responsibilities but don’t openly express their feelings. Instead, they will show their resentment by behaving in a hostile and negative manner.

The behavior usually begins in early adulthood although it may also be in seen in childhood. The workplace is the most common place where the traits of this personality disorder are exhibited, however, it can also be seen in relationships, especially marital relationships.

Signs and symptoms of passive aggressive personality disorder

Some of the most common symptoms of passive agressive personality disorder are as follows:

  • Procrastination - The person keeps putting off doing things despite knowing that there are deadlines to be met. This results in work not being completed in time or not completed at all.

  • Argumentative, sulky or irritable - If the person is asked to do something that they do not want to do, they will argue, or become irritable or sullen. They are particularly hostile towards authority figures.

  • Contradictory behavior - These individuals may appear to be very enthusiastic about carrying out a task. However, their behavior is quite inconsistent with what they are saying. For example, they may perform the task too late to be helpful. Or they may act in such a way that is useless. They may also sabotage the task to an extent that it proves to be damaging. Individuals with passive aggressive personality disorder often cause more harm than good in order to express their anger and resentment against a particular individual or situation.

  • Feigning forgetfulness - The person may attempt to avoid performing a task by acting as if he or she forgot about it.

  • Performing inefficiently - An individual may deliberately perform inefficiently so that additional responsibilities are not assigned to him or her.

  • Resentment - Another sign of passive aggressive personality disorder is harboring resentment against fellow workers or family members. The passive aggressive person is impatient and stubborn and easily offended. Any useful suggestions from others are met with resentment. Constantly complaining, these individuals are quick to blame others for the failure of a task.

  • Poor social relationships - Individuals are envious of the success of others. They have very few friends and choose ones who are less fortunate than them.

  • Other traits of passive aggressive behavior - Constantly looking for sympathy, verbal assaults with the purpose of humiliating others, and frequently apologizing and promising to perform better.

If someone you know exhibits the above signs and symptoms of passive aggressive personality disorder, consulting a mental health practitioner may be helpful. Counseling or psychotherapy may help the individual in identifying and changing these behavior patterns.


University of Maryland Medical Center: Passive-aggressive personality disorder,

NYU Langone Medical Center: Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder,

Peace and Healing: What is Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder?,