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Neurotic Solution: Passive-Aggressive Type 

The strategy of the Passive-Aggressive solution can be interpreted from the discussion by John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris of the Leisurely personality style.

Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder
Leisurely Personality Type
Resignation Solution and Self-Effacing Solution




Neurotic Needs

Compulsive Attachments

Compulsive Aversions

  • freedom to do as one pleases
  • oppositional style
  • the goodwill of authorities
  • recognition from authority figures
  • support of authority figures
  • benefits conferred by authorities
  • autonomy
  • passivity
  • submissivenes
  • self-sufficiency
  • strong figures
  • strong organizations
  • social approval
  • social support
  • attachment
  • social acceptance
  • the caring of others
  • doing things one's own way
  • deviousness
  • evasion or circumvention of rules
  • delaying tactics
  • the line of least resistance
  • solitary pursuits
  • compulsory activity
  • encroachment by others
  • intrusiveness of others
  • demandingness of others
  • interference by others
  • control by others
  • dominance by others
  • rules which restrict freedom of action
  • expectations of others, especially authority figures
  • compliance
  • competition
  • reprisals
  • the cutting off of "supplies"




Neurotic Solution

American Psychiatric Association (1994, pp. 734-35)


Negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance.

  • passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks;


  • complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others;


  • is sullen and argumentative;


  • unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority;


  • expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate;


  • voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune;


  • alternates between hostile defiance and contrition.




Neurotic Beliefs and Attitudes 

Rationalizations and reinforcements of the compulsive attachments and aversions and the neurotic solution that they engender.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and associates (pg. 360) 

  • I am self-sufficient, but I do need others to help me reach my goals.
  • The only way I can preserve my self-respect is by asserting myself indirectly—for example, by not carrying out instructions exactly.
  • I like to be attached to people but I am unwilling to pay the price of being dominated.
  • Authority figures tend to be intrusive, demanding, interfering, and controlling.
  • I have to resist the domination of authorities but at the same time maintain their approval and acceptance.
  • Being controlled or dominated by others is intolerable.
  • Making deadlines, complying with demands, and conforming are direct blows to my pride and self-sufficiency.
  • If I follow the rules the way people expect, it will inhibit my freedom of action.
  • It is best not to express my anger directly but to show my displeasure by not conforming.
  • I know what's best for me and other people shouldn't tell me what to do.
  • Rules are arbitrary and stifle me.
  • Other people are often too demanding.
  • If I regard people as too bossy, I have a right to disregard their demands. 




Idealized Image


The particular "solution" is idealized (Horney, 1950, pg. 22)


John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (pp. 203-204):


Free to be me -- no one can take away this right from a person who has a Leisurely personality style. These men and women play by the rules and fulfill their responsibilities and obligations. But once they've put in their time, they will let no person, institution, or culture deprive hem of their personal pursuit of happiness, for to the Leisurely person this is what life is all about. Some Leisurely individuals find their happiness through creative pursuits, some by relaxing with a good book. What's important to them is not how they choose to enjoy themselves but that they are guaranteed this opportunity. If threatened, these normally easy-going individuals will vigorously defend their fundamental right to do their "own thing".


  1. Inalienable rights. Leisurely men and women believe in their right to enjoy themselves on their own terms in their own time. They value and protect their comfort, their free time, and their individual pursuit of happiness.

  2. Enough is enough. They agree to play by the rules. They deliver what is expected of them and no more. They expect others to recognize and respect that limit.

  3. The right to resist. Leisurely individuals cannot be exploited. They can comfortably resist acceding to demands that they deem unreasonable or above and beyond the call of duty.

  4. Mañana. Leisurely men and women are relaxed about time. Unlike Type-A individuals, they are not obsessed by time urgency or the demands of the clock. To these individuals, haste makes waste and unnecessary anxiety. They are easygoing and optimistic that whatever needs to get done will get done, eventually.

  5. I'm okay. They are not overawed by authority. They accept themselves and their approach to life.

  6. Wheel of fortune. Leisurely people believe that they are just as good as everyone else and as entitled to the best things in life. They maintain that blind luck often accounts for who fares well and who fares poorly.

  7. Mixed feelings. Although they feel impelled to proceed in their own direction, when their choices put them in conflict with the people they care for, Leisurely people are often of two minds about how to proceed. They do not like to risk important relationships, yet they need to feel free.  



Attributes of the Idealized Image


  1. Autonomy, independence, separateness.
  2. Rule-following, able to set limits, responsible, obliging, dutiful, upstanding; happy, productive, cooperative, good-worker.
  3. Resistant to exploitation; fulfill obligations, stand up for themselves, aware of their rights, don't let others make excessive demands, work slowly and comfortably; placid, patient, slow-moving, steady, not likely to get upset, mellow, not worrisome, comfort- and pleasure-seeking, emotionally even.
  4. Leisurely, relaxed, deliberate, easy-going, optimistic; accommodating, slow easy, self-controlled, not driven to excess; sensibility, humility, modesty.
  5. Self-acceptance, self-assurance.
  6. Self-belief, self-respect.
  7. Though self-determined, family-oriented, companionable, relational; generous, appreciative, grateful, kind, fun-loving, passionate, physical, loving.





Neurotic Pride




Neurotic Claims




Neurotic Search for Glory

 The neurotic search for glory is the comprehensive drive to actualize the idealized self. Besides self-idealization it consists of the need for perfection, neurotic ambition, and the drive for vindictive triumph. The need for perfection functions in the personality as, what Horney called, "tyrannical shoulds."

Tyrannical Shoulds








American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed., text revision. Washington: Author.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

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