The narcissist is far from passive in their aggression although many moments of quiet planning will precede the onslaught. I have experienced both narcissists and passive aggressives in my own life and professionally and identify three links.
The Fragile Ego
The ego is a person’s sense of themselves, their importance, their value and self-worth. It develops in infancy and its role is self-preservation. In psychoanalytic terms the ego is the conscious sense of identity with an existence of an conscious/unconscious superego to represent conscience and morals (Freud).
Who we are and how we behave is very much influenced by upbringing. When a child is not given the opportunity to get things wrong, learn from their mistakes or be listened to and valued for their opinions they learn quickly. 1) I don’t matter or 2) I need another strategy. They also learn that good and bad cannot exist together. You are either Right or Wrong. Children that are overindulged and not taught empathy grow up to believe they are more important. Both the narcissist and the passive aggressive are of course always right (in their own minds) and can NOT ever be wrong. To be wrong further shatters their sense of who they are.
It may appear that both the narcissist and the PA have very high opinions of themselves and inflated self-importance. However beneath the skin lies vulnerability and fear. What if they aren’t as right or perfect as they portray? These thoughts will not enter their minds. Their defences to perceived attacks make it extremely difficult for them to back down. Both Ns and Pas find it hard to connect to their emotions which at some time have been bruised and hurt. A hard shell develops around them which makes it near on impossible to penetrate.
The inability to handle communication like an adult
When the fragile ego is exposed to danger this triggers childlike responses. Imagine two toddlers fighting it out at playgroup or one toddler holding all the toys while the other cries in the corner.
“he started it”
“these all belong to me and I”m not sharing”
Healthy communication between adults involves talking things through in an honest way and being open about thoughts and feelings. It also involves being able to acknowledge the truth and taking responsibility for actions. Blame and attack are narcissistic and passive aggressive manipulative tactics to avoid facing truths.
If either narcissist or passive aggressive is called or challenged over something, be it major or minor, make no mistake, revenge will come. The passive aggressive will quietly make sure that the other person will suffer in some way in the future. The narcissist will not be quiet in their revenge which can involve openly denigrating, shaming, making false allegations, bullying and verbally insulting the other to the point where the other feels powerless to fight back.
When you are in a relationship with either of these personality types you may have wondered who and what you are dealing with.
Read up and become powerful in your knowledge so you can be the one in control of yourself and not be eaten alive and swallowed whole. Don’t be drained by their energy and insatiable need to feed their egos.
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