“Beware the Covert-Aggressive Personality” Comments, Page 5

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112 Comments (35 Discussion Threads) on “Beware the Covert-Aggressive Personality”

  1. I have in the last weeks discovered that my former CA husband has been insinuating that I have have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Communicating that message (in this case) in the form of a book he gave our DIL. The book had a single page turned back – the page that details how someone with a BPD mother is likely to marry a BPD – so as to work out their issues.

    I was baby sitting my grandchildren and pulled the book from the shelf as the title was the familiar phrase, “Walking on Eggshells” and God help me the inside cover was stamped as belonging to my sister -in-law. I dread how many others (including the replacement wife) have been graced with this information.

    I have been under professional care for major depression for several years. Never has the subject of BPD even been mentioned. My husband’s mother was genuinely evil person and abusive in every way one could imagine. I believed I had done whatever I could think to help mitigate his pain.

    I am guessing from what I read that the primary issue with BPD is strong reactivity? My reactivity did escalate over the years and I have always deeply regretted that. My therapist asked me if I was highly reactive when someone was not lying to me? Twisting my reality? The answer is no.

    I will be meeting the replacement wife (husband’s former student, who I have met before) in a few days at our grandson’s birthday party. I feel so set up.

    I loved this man for over 25 years, the best I knew how. I feel like I am shadow boxing against these mind numbing betrayals.

    I was curious to know if the attribution of false mental health issues has crossed any paths here?


    1. Hi Grazce!

      I have heard and witnessed this many times:”I was curious to know if the attribution of false mental health issues has crossed any paths here?”
      Here’s what I have read about “that a abuser turns it around and plays victim constantly.” It is called co-opting and in a sense part of the crazy-making too. In cases of divorce often the manipulator uses the courts too and anything to re-victimize the “real victim.”

      When you spoke of what he may tell others about you…that is something you really can not control for he will continue to be who he is. Besides you need to concentrate on your own self-care and get detached from him as best you can so limit your time in your gaining understanding at least at some point. I know right now you are trying to figure out what really happened in your marriage.

      Plus make time for a renewel in your own life interests that you may or may not be doing which will help you a lot.
      I hope you take time to give your self quality time in areas that bring you joy and smiles and laughter.

      I know it is hard to have to come face to face with him and her at this party so do your best to be cordial and even make it a focus to not have to be about that part in your days celebration. Maybe keep it short and sweet and move on. Concentrate on your grandson and those that genuinely care about your well being that are there. Focus on your own joy if that is possible for you in participating in this family function. I know it is hard for your pain is so very evident and raw.

      I commend you for taking the time to learn about everything here. I know it has helped me tremendously to find out the truth as best I can.
      Knowledge is power and it helps us to find our own way through a break up of a relationship. So we can deal with our emotions and thoughts and needs and wants and learn to live more freely of the past that did not make sense to us. Just remember also depression is solvable and there are many ways to be guided to a different place (state) than that. Do you walk? Or exercise?

      You are going through a transition and soon you will be able to shift your focus from him to you and what you can do to have a healthy happy life again.

      Peace, Love and Joy,

  2. Thank you Diane, for taking the time to write your thoughtful responses and for sharing your experience and insight. Please know that they are truly integrated into this long pathway toward healing.

  3. Hi Dr. Simon,

    I believe I’m currently in a situation involving a covert aggressive personality type and would like some advice. I no longer allow this person to manipulate me; I have discovered that is exactly what she has been doing and avoid her completely. She is, however, close friends with my boyfriend and has been for years and I see that she is manipulating him. I don’t want to lose him to this, but I don’t know how to handle the situation effectively. My initial reaction is to a) dump him and allow him to learn, again or b) smash her face. Nether of those are preferable nor would lead to a productive outcome. Confronting her would only lend her more ammunition to be used against me. Thus far my reaction has been to ignore, but I know in the end she will get what she wants and my boyfriend will suffer for it if I allow it to continue. I can’t beat her at her own game nor do I want to. Any suggestions?

    1. It will be your boyfriend’s choice. If your boyfriend isnt loyal to you, but chooses to trust her, then he will have made his choice. After that, it will be your time to decide what to do.

  4. Dr. Simon:

    I could use some advise. Short background: I come from extremely close family, 1 sis, 3 bros, I was golden child, father’s fave, smart, beautiful, gifted…graced with everything. My sister….well, none of the above. Dropped out of school, irresponsible, can’t hold job, average looks, no special talent.

    fast forward: In our 40’s

    My sister lives within driving distance of my parents. My brothers and I live in different states.

    I didn’t realize it until recently, but I think my sister has tried to take my place since I am no longer “home” on a daily basis.
    I have a very strong conscience, she does not. My mother has protected my sister since we were children and has continued protecting her as well as her children who also requires protecting due to aberrant behavior. My entire family – especially me- has kept our mouths shut in situations pertaining to my sister or children’s behavior just so as to not upset our mother or start an argument with my sister. My sister has us all trained quite well.

    I was taught to turn the other cheek and not to lower myself in response to lowly behavior. Furthermore, since our family is only truly together 2 times a year (Xmas and in summer) noone wants to start anything.

    Over the years that I have kept my mouth shut, I see now that it has simply empowered by sister. Now I have so much pent up anger I can’t even talk when she’s in the room because a flood will pour out of my mouth so deep that it will drown everyone in the room.

    My silence has also allowed my sister to manipulate my family members seemingly against me in order to empower herself and “dethrone” me of my “position” within our family.

    I actually love my sister although I can’t say I like her much. When we visit my parents twice a year (we spend most of the summer, and a month at Xmas) it’s impossible to avoid her or her children. Incidentally, the apple, indeed, does not fall far from the tree.

    My parents are older and I don’t want to cause anyone heartache. However, I would like to uncover my sister’s covert aggressive manipulation. I am angry and disappointed that my other loved-ones could be so manipulated by her as to begin seeing me in a different light but she is simply that good at what she does.

    My children are very much like me. We go about our business and do not have an “agenda.” I have taught my children to treat others as they would like to be treated.

    As a result, my sister and her manipulative children manipulate me and my children and I don’t know how to stop this insanity while keeping our extended family intact.

    How do I stop this horrible, cycle and bring back sanity and sense to our family?

    1. If you have decided to dislike your sister, and to not speak up to her about her actions, then you have already made your choice. Penting up your anger and being silent is never the right way to communicate. Anger will be there whether you are hiding it or showing it.
      Covert aggression is not something to be uncovered. It is something to know and to stay away from. Because the covert aggressor of course wont admit to her failings.
      A family that is quiet when it comes to aberrant behavior or problematic behavior is called ‘codependent’. It is not a particular fault of your mother or a particular fault/responsibility of your sister, rather it is a family dynamic that is held within the family system. So if you see and want to address a problem, of course, everyone is going to want to be silent about that problem. But that doesn’t make it ‘wrong’ to address the problem!

  5. I have suffered for years(15) at the hands of our neighbour whom does’nt work but looks after his ill wife (has MS).Our properties are joined and I’ve always had the impression he listens to my conversations with my wife/family,I have even caught his son laying against the ajoining fence which seperates our gardens evesdropping on me and my wife.He has 2 sons one early 20’s who is in the TA the other mid 20’s whom I think is in the firebrigade.I have suffered attempted intimidation for years by his friends and family,cars slowly driving past my house shining lights at the windows,excrement on the lawn and men (brothers inlaw) leering at me in the local pub which I no longer frequent.My wife is a nurse and works nights and most of the drivebys occure when she is working I know this is done to make me look paranoid when I try to explain events to my wife.I am a good man and we have a disabled child which can add to the overall pressure.Though this is the first time I have heard of covert aggressive personality I have been aware of “the game” for quite some time and though at times its very difficult I simply refuse to be intimidated.I have observed that all the people that are involved are cowards and have to hunt in packs,there is’nt a man amongst them.I am not afraid of physical confrontation but am always aware that that is “the game”if I should strike out which if anyone else where in this position they would find is a perfectly reasonable action,then I lose and I become exactly what they said I was.We recently got a dog which I walk sometimes quite late at night (11.00) They have begun to follow my route and offen park up with side lights on in an attempt to intimidate me,on the surface I am steadfast and actively make a point of walking right up to their cars at which point they drive away,inside I find it a little unnerving even though I am sure no bodily harm will occur and the dog is an Akita its still starting to jangle my nerves and I am at times forcing myself to make that late night walk,I have also started to carry a knife which is not a good idea for me or them.I am so sick and tired of all this I am running out of self respect and ideas of how to combat the situation,please can anyone offer advice or telephone number for the A team.

  6. Sorry to not be able to provide direct advice regarding your situation, especially inasmuch as it appears a war of sorts is going on here and the impetus for it is yet unknown, but I did want to emphasize one principle that I speak of in my writings which might provide some useful information to you. Making the assumption that cowardice lies underneath more covert forms of aggression is quite risky. Most of the time, pragmatic considerations (e.g., not wanting to look the bad guy, not wanting to do anything obvious or verifiable that would draw the attention of the law, etc.) and not cowardice. And when the impetus behind the war is strong, and the risk of more overt aggression is perceived to be low, the possibility of more harmful can increase.

    Again, not making any judgments about this situation, because it would be inappropriate to do so. Just wanting to dispel the very common but erroneous notion that folks who engage in such behaviors are, underneath it all, cowards. They usually aren’t. And no one needs to find that out the hard way.

  7. My name is Jason, How come it’s always my behavior in question? I can easily point out their hypocritical behavior, showing where the person does what they are telling me is wrong? Because I have strategy, should I be persecuted? I get results, if I can’t convince, I confuse. Intimidation is a n unfortunate last resort. If I rob banks, and they steal a car from time to time, their right to tell me anything about anything is void. If they have a right to tell anyone whats right or wrong, they should find a cross and Nail Themselves To It. The truth is If you jump on a behavior, don’t get caught doing it yourself in a different situation ….we’ll catch it.

    1. Your smart Jason, You have exposed them….(Thanks.) No, thank you..(No thank you.) No problem.(Later.)

  8. Hi,
    I have just come to the realisation ‘after the whiplash’ that I work with one of these people. They are truely the puppet master and many puppets know they are on strings but will not say anything to the covert-aggressor. I am guessing this is usually the case. How can I deal with this personal so that I have a little less whiplash next time?

    1. Most of the second part of the book “In Sheep’s Clothing is dedicated not only to empowering yourself in relationships with such people but also empowering yourself in relationships with all sorts of character-deficient individuals.

  9. Hello, Dr. Simon

    After doing some reading on your site, I am now convinced that my husband, with whom I am currently in the midst of a divorce, is afflicted with covert-aggressive personality disorder. We have one child together (our son is currently eleven months old), and I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) Could my husband’s disorder be passed to my child genetically? If it is heredetary, then do you know how likely my son will be to inherit it?

    2) Are there any “red flags” that I should be aware of as far as my son’s behavior goes, either now or in the future, and are there any actions that I can take to either prevent my son from inheriting this disorder, or to minimize the likelihood? I realize that not much can be done as far as genes and heredity go, but I wonder, if a child does inherit this affliction, how much of an impact the child’s environment can have upon the child when it comes to the issue of trying to quell the disease.

    3) Lastly, if I do recognize these negative characteristics in my son, then is it at all possible to make the disorder go away entirely if I do take the “correct” measures, whatever they may be?

    1. We know that there is some hereditary predisposition toward certain character disturbances, especially antisocial personality disorder, but there is no evidence that such conditions are strictly inherited. Both nature and the environment appear to contribute to personality development, and I delve into this in depth and outline the various contributing factors in my book “Character Disturbance.” I also address the signs to look for that there might be trouble ahead in a child’s development, as well as the precautions in child rearing that should be taken to provide the optimal conditions for sound character development.

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