Passive Aggressive character types:
Perfectionistic compliant type
From: "NPA Theory of Personality"
© 2008 A.M. Benis
Perfectionistic compliant type, NPA=
Passive Aggressive types are those who have the A trait of aggression, but it is partially inhibited by genetic and/or environmental factors.
Compliant Passive Aggressive types are those in whom the A trait is profoundly inhibited (notation A=). Non-compliant Passive Aggressive types are those in whom the A trait is partially, but not profoundly, inhibited (notation A−).
In compliant types, the trait A is profoundly suppressed, so that whatever the circumstances they tend not exhibit aggressive behavior in social situations. They can exhibit the aggressive “A rage”, but this is unusual. Compliant types tend to be introverted and may seek a life style involving little responsibility and much protection. Sexually promiscuous individuals are vulnerable to abusive relationships and may have a tendency to masochistic behavior.
Genetics: The underlying genetic structure is the same as for the NPA Dominant type, except that in addition the A trait is modulated by genetic and/or environmental factors.
Rage: “N rage”, “A rage” or combined “NA rage”. In most compliant individuals the rages are rarely seen.
Also known as: “NP like” compliant. Quiet achiever Passive Aggressive. Depressive, masochistic personality. Submissive, dependent or self-effacing personality. "The shrinking violet".
Complexion: Tending toward sanguine or flushed in individuals of light skin color. Blushes very easily with embarrassment.
Smile: Warm smile when at ease. Otherwise nervous smile.
Photograph: Uncomfortable before camera in unfamiliar settings.
Voice: Nervous voice pattern with speech hesitation. Low in intensity.
Gestures: Reserved and tentative.
Handwriting: Neat and legible, as a slave writing for his masters.
Sexuality: Tendency to promiscuity: low. Tendency to LGBT in sexual orientation: moderate.
Color preference: Conservative in color choice.
Population genetics: "The Introspective Habitancy". See Passive Aggressive NPA− type.
Susceptibilities: Shyness. Masochism. Sadomasochistic "morbid dependency" as the dependent partner. Social phobia. Panic disorder. Reactive depression. Dependent, avoidant personality disorder. See also Passive Aggressive NPA− type.
Pitfalls: NPA= individuals can superficially resemble NP, NPA− or borderline types.
From Chapter 5: A model of human behavior
This introverted individual carries the mottos, "I am the most unselfish, the most sympathetic and the most loving," or "I will do anything, but anything for you so long as you protect me for the rest of my life."
He has, without realizing it, renounced his aggressive tendencies in early childhood, hence has been reduced to a shadow of his human genetic potential. He may be a self-conscious, painfully shy "shrinking violet" and be easy prey to any aggressive type. He may have a strong feeling, or a vague uncomfortable suspicion, that all was not well during his very early childhood. Somehow, he feels and acts as if, in the deep recesses of his mind, he were ashamed of something that he is, guilty of something that he did wrong or something he should have done right, or was somehow, somewhere deeply humiliated before others.
Being defenseless, and easily frightened, he fears any demands to be made upon him, particularly those forcing him to any position of responsibility. In fact, the words "responsibility," "ambition," "career," or "success" are taboo to him, and may send shivers down his spine. If he finds himself in a hierarchal structure, he wants to stay right where he is. He certainly does not want to move up to a position of greater responsibility, and he will invoke the "Peter Principle" in his defense. That is, he will say that he does not want to exceed the limits of his capabilities, which despite intensive rationalization, must have become painfully obvious to him.
Although his aggressive qualities have been suppressed into profound submission, they are nevertheless latently present. He does "play the game" but instinctively feels himself helpless at the bottom of the "pecking order." In his helplessness, his only salvation in life is to offer to all comers helpfulness, love, sympathy, compassion and self-sacrifice.
In love relationships the "shrinking violet" flourishes into a "clinging vine," and he "falls in love," in the form of the morbid dependency, with almost any strong individual. And if he obtains a commitment for protection, it must be total. He must have everything done for him, while in return he offers little else than the promise of his total abandon to "true love."
In his insatiable desire to achieve safety in the promises of protection and love, he becomes vulnerable to abuse by others, and in fact, does come to feel that he is abused. He, thus, finds himself in the position of offering himself to be abused in order to fulfill the needs of his character structure and to find satisfaction in his life. Hence, it is in this character structure that we find the roots of masochism, that is, the finding of satisfaction in life through being abused by others. He may, in fact, be overtly sexually masochistic.
As with all of the character types, frustration of the most serious kind is engendered when the premises of the basic character vector are threatened. For this individual, the worst threat is that of the loss of his protective master, boss or subjugator. This will be defended vigorously in the form of a claim of fidelity from the master. Since he, the slave, has been so faithful and loving, the master must respond in turn. The dynamics of such a "morbid dependency" will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 9.
If frustration mounts to a breaking point, the individual may, finally, incite himself to an aggressive-vindictive rage. This will surely surprise his onlookers, who are used to seeing a very quiet, shy individual. It will also surprise and frighten the individual himself, who may not have known that a spirit of aggression lurked deep in the catacombs of his character.
If the hopelessness of the situation comes to the fore, then a deep abject state of depression will ensue. In this individual, the abject state is characterized by suffering, and the suffering provides a source of "positive feedback" to the unconscious motivations behind his basic character structure. That is, the suffering becomes a further reinforcing alibi for the individual's not mobilizing himself, and for his continuing demand that he be rescued by the master or by anyone else without any positive effort at all on his part.
The above descriptions would apply to individuals of the NPA= and NA= types, who would superficially somewhat resemble the NP and N types, respectively. That is, the NPA= type would tend to be a quiet, meticulous perfectionist worker, while the NA= type would tend to be more labile, more aware of his physical and sexual attributes, and less a perfectionist worker than a task-oriented "doer." The A= and PA= types, as discussed previously, would be chronic schizophrenics (see Chapter 11).
From Chapter 6: Character caricatures
This individual's character structure, whatever its resultant complexity and whatever his real accomplishments in life, seems to be constructed around a nidus of a feeling of shame. He is an introvert. He has the so-called "inferiority complex."
He may be blandly passive or a true "shrinking violet." He has a low, restrained voice, and he is not articulate. His countenance suggests a trace of sadness. His movements are tentative and his gestures reserved. His eye contact with others is poor, as he displays the averted eyes of a slave before his masters, which in his case includes almost everyone with whom he comes in contact. He shrinks in the presence of kings, but also in the presence of shopkeepers.
Meeting people in a business or social situation is an ordeal for him. He forgets names as soon as the introductions are uttered. If he is required to make the introductions himself, his mind goes blank and he may enter a state of panic. He is very uncomfortable before a group of strangers. He lives in fear of being called upon to speak extemporaneously. If he must give a speech he will write it out word for word or commit it to memory, fearing that his mind will go blank when it comes time to deliver it. When he does deliver it, his nervousness is apparent, all the more so if his audience is hostile or in the least bit threatening. For the same reason this individual will not be seen on television unless he is accompanied by his master.
He will be uncomfortable and feel anxious if he must go to a social function where strangers will be present. What he fears most is a medium-sized group of six to twelve persons, where he might suddenly become the center of attention. Paradoxically, though, he yearns for the presence of others, and to stay home in loneliness is a state of shame that he tries to avoid or hide at all costs.
He has a poor self-image but does not try to bolster it. Even though he may possess the N trait, he tends not to adorn himself excessively (but the NA= type may, indeed, adorn himself flamboyantly). His dress is usually reserved and may be outright shabby. In fact, any state of ostentatiousness is alien to him. If he sees himself suddenly in a mirror he may startle himself, and he is not particularly enamored by what he sees. He may at times consciously wish that he were not he, but someone else.
Having renounced competitiveness, he has all of his pride invested in helping others and in trying to please them. He is in his self-effacing way over-helpful, over-kind, over-caring and over-sympathetic. His handwriting, written as it is for the benefit of others, is nicely legible. And in his pride he sees himself, not as a selfish person whose claim is to be cared for throughout his journey through life, but as a selfless saint who is indispensable to his boss or to his mate and family.
His taboo on competitiveness and on any aspirations for himself pervades his entire life, from his important decisions of how to gain his livelihood and whom to marry, to the less important ones regarding the minutiae of his daily existence. Feeling as he does as a stowaway on the ship of life, he fears that if he does anything implying independence from his protectors then he might suddenly find himself in a lifeboat, alone at sea and having to fend for himself in the struggle for survival in his hostile world.
In space and time, he is something of a lost soul. He may have a magic circle, of ten-mile radius, from which he dare not leave. He may have only the vaguest idea of the locations of nearby states, cities or townships. He may not have the slightest idea where the maze of highways near his home actually leads. If he goes on a trip, he enjoys himself as he is piloted about by his protector, but he will have only the slightest idea in geographical terms where he has been. He is totally incapable of reading maps or transportation schedules, and may ascribe this inability to some kind of learning disability. In fact, if he is not taken somewhere, he would not dream of going alone. Hence, in contrast with the resigned type whose pride is vested in complete independence, the compliant type has all of his pride invested in complete dependence on his protector, protectors or subjugator.
As an example of a compliant type, we offer this account from a recent letter to a newspaper columnist:
[The New York Post, Sept 10, 1980]
« DEAR DR. BROTHERS: Whoever said life begins at 40 was a terrible liar. For me, it seems to be the end of the line. Everything has happened wrong for me in the past two years.
I had a husband who took care of everything for me, and then he suddenly died. He took care of all the family business; he never even allowed me to drive an automobile because he preferred to do it for me.
I'm ashamed to say I don't know how to balance a checkbook or do any of the things that seem to be a part of daily living for a lot of people. I'd like to find another man just like my husband, but now I'm 42, and it seems unlikely that such a man could ever come along. I'm very depressed most of the time, and I feel that my life is over. »
Benis A.M. (1985, 2nd edition 2008: NPA Theory of Personality): Chaps. 5 & 6, in Toward Self & Sanity: On the genetic origins of the human character, Psychological Dimensions, New York, pp. 60-62, 128-131.
Benis A.M. (1990) : A theory of personality traits leads to a genetic model for borderline types and schizophrenia. Speculations in Science and Technology Vol. 13, No. 3, 167-175.