Understanding the Sufferer, Helping the Victim, 2nd Edition

by Martin Kantor, MD


The term "passive-aggressive" has become overused, generally as a nonspecific pejorative hurled at those whom we don't like or who annoy us.

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October 2017


Pages 273
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/Abnormal
  • Award Winner!




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Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder (PAPD) is now recognized as a distinct personality disorder. Those who suffer from PAPD are sorely in need not only of diagnostic recognition, but also of specific therapeutic intervention. This new book from Martin Kantor speaks to therapists; guides those who interact with passive-aggressive individuals to advance their own effective coping methods based on science, understanding, and compassion; and directly addresses passive-aggressive individuals themselves.

Contrary to what is implied in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and what some practitioners have believed in recent years, new thinking points to passive-aggression being a full disorder. A counterrevolution is now occurring, with some of the most centrist of authors participating in a concerted drive to bring back the diagnosis as being one of the fundamental personality disorders—indeed, a disorder that describes individuals with a distinctly troublesome personality. In this new book, Martin Kantor—a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and noted author of numerous medical texts—takes a new look at passive-aggression and passive-aggressive personality disorder (PAPD) that precisely and scientifically defines it in terms of description, causality, and therapeutic intervention, all based on recent theoretical findings.

Kantor makes a powerful argument that passive-aggression can only be reliably identified by answering three fundamental questions, the answers to which define the disorder: why these patients get so angry; why these patients cannot express their anger directly; and what anger styles they employ to express their aggressions. His examination of passive-aggression, which involves two people enmeshed with each other, logically takes two distinct points of view: that of the passive-aggressive individual, and that of his or her "victim" or "target." Specific clinical observation is presented to clarify theory. The book explains how passive-aggression can develop into a complex dyadic interaction in which it is difficult to determine who is doing what to whom, who started it, and what path to take to deescalate; and how using mutual understanding and healthy empathy plus compassion can preclude getting involved in sadomasochistic mutual provocation. The author also suggests ways for those who suffer from passive-aggression to be less hypersensitive, and to express what hypersensitivity they can't help feeling more directly, rather than via the various unhealthy anger styles that constitute the passive-aggressive modus operandi.


  • Presents powerful, eye-opening, and practical information for therapists, passive-aggressive individuals themselves, friends and family of passive-aggressive individuals, and on-the-job colleagues of those who treat others in a passive-aggressive manner
  • Documents how the answers to three basic questions about passive-aggression are the keys to proper diagnosis, understanding causality, and providing improved therapeutic responses
  • Covers a variety of treatment options and strategies—including cognitive, interpersonal, and psychoanalytic approaches as well as common transference and countertransference issues—that will aid victims of passive-aggressiveness and help passive-aggressive individuals themselves to do better
  • Includes two chapters that specifically provide self-help therapy for sufferers and their victims
Author Info

Martin Kantor, MD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who has been in full private practice in Boston and New York City and active in residency training programs at hospitals including Massachusetts General in Boston, MA, and Beth Israel in New York, NY. He also served as assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical School and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. Kantor is a full-time author of more than 20 books. His published works include Praeger's Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder; Now That You're Out: The Challenges and Joys of Living as a Gay Man; Why a Gay Person Can't Be Made Un-Gay: The Truth About Reparative Therapies; Homophobia: The State of Sexual Bigotry Today; and The Essential Guide to Overcoming Avoidant Personality Disorder.



"The second edition of Dr. Kantor's well-researched book helps to rescue the concept of 'passive-aggression' from the rubbish bin to which DSM-5 has relegated it. As Dr. Kantor demonstrates, Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder is a serious clinical syndrome that causes significant distress to individuals with such problems as well as to people involved with them."—Scott Wetzler, Author of the best-selling book Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man: Coping with Hidden Aggression from the Bedroom to the Boardroom


2019 IPPY Award Bronze Medal in Psychology/Mental Health Category — Independent Book Publishers Association

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