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Crazy-Makers: Dealing With Passive-Aggressive People
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.



Blaming. The skilled passive-aggressive blamer can rephrase almost any comment to make it appear the recipient's fault. "You should have known!" or "You're too sensitive!" are common methods of blaming the victim. Sometimes it can be so extreme as to border on the ridiculous if it wasn't so hurtful; for example, "You know I'm a grouch before dinner. I wouldn't have yelled at you if you wouldn't have asked me a question." This person deflects all attempts to communicate about problems by blaming the other person.

The husband who deflects issues by counter-attacking:

Wife: I'm concerned about how much your spending on your fishing trips. Can we talk about this?

Husband: You're really one to talk! Look at the credit card records and see how much you spent at the department stores.

Wife: If you are concerned about that we can discuss it, but right now I'd like to talk about these expenses for your fishing trips.

Husband: All you ever do is nag me about how much I spend! If you didn't nag me all the time I wouldn't be out fishing so much!

Wife: I'm not nagging you! I'm trying to discuss something that worries me!

Husband: See! You are always worrying about every little thing.

Wife: I don't think the things I worry about are "little."

As you see in this example, even though the wife is trying to reasonably focus on a concern, the husband continues to blame her and to deflect the issue away from his spending and onto his wife. He has successfully shifted the argument so that the wife is defending herself at which point he has "won" because he no longer has to discuss his spending behavior.