Resigned character types

From:  "NPA Theory of Personality"
©  2008 A.M. Benis

Perfectionistic type, NP–A
Non-perfectionistic type, N –A

     Resigned types are those in whom the trait of aggression is partially suppressed by either genetic and/or environmental factors after maturity (notation −A). In Passive Aggressive types the trait of aggression is partially suppressed before maturity (notation A− and A= for non-compliant and compliant types, respectively). 

In Resigned types the trait A may be suppressed in 1) a former Dominant type, or 2) a former non-compliant Passive Aggressive type. Because of environmental factors, or "stress", the individual becomes detached, or "abdicates", from competitive social interaction in order to devote himself to more serene activities. The sanguine N trait may be expressed as "narcissism", but this would be especially unusual in the NP–A type.

Phenotype: NP–A (perfectionistic), N –A (non-perfectionistic)

Genetics: Depends on whether the individual was a former NPA/NA Dominant type, or a former NPA−/NA− Passive Aggressive type.

Rage: “N rage”, “A rage” or combined “NA rage”. In most Resigned types the rages are rarely seen.

Also known as: Sanguine resigned. Avoidant or detached personality.

Complexion: Tending toward sanguine or flushed in individuals of light skin color, especially in former Passive Aggressive types.

Smile: Former Dominant NPA and NA types: smiles easily. Former Passive Aggressive types: relaxed social smile rarely seen.

Photograph: Former Dominant NPA and NA types: relaxed. Former Passive Aggressive types: camera-shy.

Voice: Depends on former NPA type.

Gestures: Reserved.

Handwriting: Usually neat and legible.

Sexuality: Variable according to life situation. Wary of strong attachments.

Color preference: Variable according to the individual and situation, but usually there is a discomfort with bright or ostentatious colors.

Population genetics: Etiology of Resigned types is highly dependent on environmental factors.

Susceptibilities: Former Dominant types: see NPA and NA types. Former Passive Aggressive types: see compliant and non-compliant types.

Pitfalls: Unless details of the individuals' lives are known, descriptions of the Resigned types NP−A and N−A can mimic the NP and N types, respectively.

From Chapter 5:  A Model of human behavior

Resigned Types

       These types are mature individuals having an aggressive component in their character structure, who have given up the struggle of "playing the game" of dominance and submission, and have entered a state of detachment. We denote the state of suppressed aggression after maturity by −A. 

We identify two groups of resigned types: 1) former Dominant types having the trait of aggression, and 2) former non-compliant Submissive types. Such individuals carry the mottos: "I am self-sufficient. I am independent of everyone and everything," and "I don't need anyone else, thus no one can hurt me."

Whatever the cause for the detachment, whether it was rooted in inheritance, in a single traumatic event such as a disfiguring accident, or in a spectrum of stressful circumstances, the individual has, in essence, taken to the hills. He has felt his psychic equilibrium to be in jeopardy, and in defense he has rationalized a philosophy of resourcefulness and splendid inner independence. He becomes an onlooker of life, or to the extent that he considers himself to be superior to others, he may adopt the attitude of a detached overseer.

       NP−A type.  Considering first the NP−A type, he develops a personal philosophy of non-involvement with all things both great and small, perhaps a philosophy of equilibrium or communication with nature. His philosophy may be based on achieving peace through religion or through non-involvement with the environment. As he would consider his involvement with the environment a desecration of the natural order, so does he resent any intrusion of the environment into his life. He will resist acceptance of any philosophy or any way of thinking that may lead to irresolvable problems or to unforeseen conflicts. He may deny the evidence of Darwinian evolution, thereby assuming ultimate independence from the world around him in effectively denying that he is a member of the human race (Chapter 3).

He develops his own magic circle of detachment and bitterly resents any unwanted intrusion into it. There is an undercurrent of anxiety with regard to being intruded upon or of being drawn into circumstances that would impose themselves on him. He is constantly scanning the horizon for the approach of events casting their shadows before them, and he is always prepared for escape if the coercion becomes too great. If an escape route is not available, then his anxiety level will rise. He may be literally claustrophobic in constrained situations.

His whole life becomes geared to the maintenance of his detachment. He will seek work in a non-hierarchal structure where the fewest demands are made on him. He will, at all costs, avoid making demands on others. He may become a physician, a taxi driver, a free-lance writer, a nun, a lighthouse keeper or a vagabond. If coerced, he will leave his job abruptly, and the search for another suitable one may take an interminably long time. In sports he is an avid spectator, or if he is active he will row a single scull or be a cross-country jogger.

His personal life is often a mystery to his companions and co-workers. Often no one really knows where he lives or what he does. He may keep an unlisted telephone number and no identifying sign on his door. In a hotel, a "do not disturb" sign appears immediately on his door. He lives and travels alone. And to all observers he appears to live alone and like it.

He is, of course, unaggressive. He is friendly, cordial and good humored. He is reliable, helpful and has a real sense of integrity. He is a person who is well liked by others and is considered to be dependable.

In order to maintain his detachment he must continually be on guard so that friendships do not become overly constraining. Relationships with a sexual connotation become interludes with the understanding that real involvement is not around the corner. The prospect of marriage is frightening unless his prospective mate is able to show the promise of supporting his detached status. His aversion to close friendships and to the expression of giving oneself to another person cannot help but lead to an emotional numbness. He becomes bland and phlegmatic. As he goes through life and is exposed to more and more, he responds by taking less and less. His life has become peaceful, placid with not a conflict in sight, but it has become shallow.

When threatened or goaded, he can be activated to an aggressive state, but like the non-compliant Passive Aggressive type, he is not comfortable there. He will be deeply disappointed with himself that others were able to penetrate his aura of placidity and goad him into "playing the game" once more.

When coerced to the breaking point, he may, once in a lifetime, erupt in a vociferous rage of rebellion, which carries the motto, "To hell with you all!  I am not going to do all these things for you any more!  I'm getting out of here!" which will be seen to be a narcissistic rage in disguise.

When not coerced, this NP−A type is a quiet, resourceful worker who has a strong resemblance to the NP dominant type, "the aloof achiever." However, the resigned type's residual aggressive component is subtly evident by his occasional aggressive language and gestures. Like all types expressing the aggressive gene, he is prone to the undercurrents of sadistic behavior. In the detached individual this may occur in the form of passive obstructionist behavior reminiscent of the PA type, in the form of non-involvement in situations where disaster is imminent, in the morbid interest in natural disasters such as the following of the progress of a hurricane, or finally in simply standing back in detached amusement and watching the faults and foibles of others as they fritter and flounder about, fumble and fail in their frenetic ventures of futile human folly.

       N−A type.  Turning to the NA resigned type, according to the model he is lacking in perfectionist qualities. He is less a quiet worker than a narcissistic individual who is well capable of task-oriented accomplishments, but less of directed efforts requiring the planning and execution of many interrelated details. In addition, when activated to the NA+ state, he may resemble the hyperactive, hypersexual "bird of prey" NA type. This, we propose, would be the hypersexual resigned type of the psychiatric literature. In such an individual, his only bridge to involvement with others is on a sexual plane, and of course the affairs can lead to no stable relationship.

Finally, as is true for all character types, the Resigned type is vulnerable. If his magic circle comes to be repeatedly penetrated, he may feel the walls of life closing in on him, and he may descend into the profound depression of an abject state.

From Chapter 6:  Character caricatures

       The resigned types NP−A and N−A are much like NPA and NA types in totally unstressed circumstances. The voice is often somewhat subdued, yet it is usually more forceful, and has greater range, than that of the NP type. The NP−A type preserves the intimate eye contact of his NPA+ cousin. With regard to countenance, the NP−A and N−A types tend toward a sanguine complexion, while the non-sanguine −A and P−A types (schizoid Borderline individuals) tend toward pallor.

The resigned type often reveals himself not so much by his mannerisms, the tone of his voice or his smile as by the detached life that he leads. In his serenity and in his non-involvement in close relationships he puzzles his colleagues and acquaintances, who may even suspect that he is homosexual, which he would bitterly resent. The dynamics of his lifestyle become understandable once his basic character vector is apparent. These dynamics were presented in Chapter 5 above and will not be repeated here.  

Somerset Maugham was obviously fascinated by resigned persons. The protagonist, Larry, of his biographical novel The Razor's Edge is a resigned vagabond. The reader could do no better than to read two other works of Maugham, to which we refer briefly below.

        The first excerpt describes the character Dr. Saunders, taken from Maugham's novel The Narrow Corner:

« ...Dr. Saunders lacked this sensitiveness.  Unpleasant table manners affected him as little as a purulent ulcer. Right and wrong were no more to him than good weather and bad weather. He took them as they came. He judged but he did not condemn. He laughed.

« He was very easy to get on with. He was much liked. But he had no friends. He was an agreeable companion, but neither sought intimacy nor gave it. There was no one in the world to whom he was not at heart indifferent. He was self-sufficient. His happiness depended not on persons but on himself. He was selfish, but since he was at the same time shrewd and disinterested, few knew it and none was inconvenienced by it. Because he wanted nothing, he was never in anybody's way. Money meant little to him, and he never much minded whether patients paid him or not...

« It amused him to see their ailments yield to treatment, and he continued to find entertainment in human nature. He confounded persons and patients. Each was like another page in an interminable book, and that there were so many repetitions oddly added to the interest. It was curious to see how all these people, white, yellow and brown, responded to the critical situations of humanity, but the sight neither touched his heart nor troubled his nerves. Death was, after all, the greatest event in every man's life, and he never ceased to find interest in the way he faced it. It was with a little thrill that he sought to pierce into a man's consciousness, looking through the eyes frightened, defiant, sullen or resigned, into the soul confronted for the first time with the knowledge that its race was run, but the thrill was merely one of curiosity. His sensibility was unaffected. He felt neither sorrow nor pity. He only faintly wondered how it was that what was so important to one could matter so little to another. And yet his manner was full of sympathy. He knew exactly what to say to alleviate the terror or pain of the moment, and he left no one but fortified, consoled and encouraged. It was a game that he played, and it gave him satisfaction to play it well.  

« He had great natural kindliness, but it was a kindliness of instinct, which betokened no interest in the recipient: he would come to the rescue if you were in a fix, but if there was no getting you out of it would not bother about you further. He did not like to kill living things, and he would neither shoot nor fish. He went so far, for no reason other than he felt that every creature had a right to life, that he preferred to brush away a mosquito or a fly than to swat it. Perhaps he was an intensely logical man. It could not be denied that he led a good life (if at least you did not confine goodness to conformity with your own sensual inclinations), for he was charitable and kindly, and he devoted his energies to the alleviation of pain, but if motive counts for righteousness, then he deserved no praise; for he was influenced in his actions neither by love, pity, nor charity... »

          The second excerpt is taken from The Gentleman in the Parlour, an account of Maugham's travels in the Far East:

« ...We are gregarious, most of us, and we resent the man who does not seek the society of his fellows. We do not content ourselves with saying that he is odd, but we ascribe to him unworthy motives. Our pride is wounded that he should have no use for us, and we nod to one another and wink and say that if he lives in this strange way it must be to practise some secret vice, and if he does not inhabit his own country it can only be because his own country is too hot to hold him. But there are people who do not feel at home in the world, the companionship of others is not necessary to them, and they are ill at ease amid the exuberance of their fellows. They have an invincible shyness. Shared emotions abash them. The thought of community singing, even though it be but "God Save the King," fills them with embarrassment, and if they sing, it is plaintively in their baths. They are self-sufficient, and they shrug a resigned and sometimes, it must be admitted, a scornful shoulder because the world uses that adjective in a depreciatory sense. Wherever they are they feel themselves "out of it." They are to be found all over the service of this earth, members of a great monastic order bound by no vows and cloistered though not by walls of stone. If you wander up and down the world you will meet them in all sorts of unexpected places...

« ...But it is more surprising when you hear that the only white person in a Chinese city is an Englishwoman, not a missionary, who has lived there, none knows why, for a quarter of a century; and there is another who inhabits an islet in the South Seas, and a third who has a bungalow on the outskirts of a large village in the centre of Java. They live solitary lives, without friends, and they do not welcome the stranger. Though they may not have seen one of their own race for months they will pass you on the road as though they did not see you, and if, presuming on your nationality, you call, the chances are that they will decline to receive you; but if they do they will give you a cup of tea from a silver teapot and on a plate of old Worcester you will be offered hot scones. They will talk to you politely, as though they were entertaining you in a drawing room overlooking a London square, but when you take your leave they express no desire ever to see you again.

« The men are at once shyer and more friendly. At first they are tonguetied, and you see the anxious look on their faces as they rack their brains for topics of conversation, but a glass of whisky loosens their minds (for sometimes they are inclined to tipple) and then they will talk freely. They are glad to see you, but you must be careful not to abuse your welcome; they get tired of company very soon and grow restless at the necessity of making an effort. They are more apt to run to seed than women, they live in a higgledy-piggledy manner, indifferent to their surroundings and their food. They have often an ostensible occupation. They keep a little shop but do not care whether they sell anything, and their goods are dusty and fly-blown, or they run, with lackadaisical incompetence, a coconut plantation. They are on the verge of bankruptcy. Sometimes they are engaged in metaphysical speculation, and I met one who had spent years in the study and annotation of the works of Immanuel Swedenborg. Sometimes they are students and take endless pains to translate classical works which have been already translated, like the dialogues of Plato, or of which translation is impossible, like Goethe's Faust.  

« They may not be very useful members of society, but their lives are harmless and innocent. If the world despises them, they on their side despise the world. The thought of returning to its turmoil is a nightmare to them. They ask nothing but to be left in peace. Their satisfaction with their lot is sometimes a trifle irritating. It needs a good deal of philosophy not to be mortified by the thought of persons who have voluntarily abandoned everything that for the most of us makes life worth living and are devoid of envy of what they have missed. I have never made up my mind whether they are fools or wise men. They have given up everything for a dream, a dream of peace or happiness or freedom, and their dream is so intense that they make it true. »


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.  

Horney K. (1950): Neurosis and Human Growth, Norton, New York.

Maugham W.S. (1930):The Gentleman in the Parlour, Doubleday, New York.

Maugham W.S. (1932):The Narrow Corner. Doubleday, New York.