Monday, August 01, 2005

Sibling dystopia and the passive-aggressive fraud

Been reading about so-called passive-aggressive syndrome. My brother's stay with me was on one hand very enjoyable, but on the other we argued, at a pretty minor level, all the time. It wore me down a bit...

I tend to be vocal and extroverted, and frequently make it clear if I think TV shows, celebrities, politicians or prevailing social assumptions are unmitigated crap. It's the way I am. But I prefer to play the ball over the man, to use a mediocre cliche, in that I have high tolerance levels for different tastes and outlooks among friends and associates.

My brother asserts a highly critical worldview in theory, yet in practice watches all the mainstream TV shows and defends the mainstream line at every opportunity. But on an interpersonal level he is highly critical and argumentative. This repeatedly manifested itself as argument where I would be laying out attacks on the subject matter while he replied with attacks on me personally.

I believe there is a difference between arguing about something external and attacking a person you are communicating with, though the two are often painted as one and the same.

Anyway, this led me to looking up passive-aggressive syndrome. No, it doesn't appear to be either of us- we'd be too direct about anything we didn't like putting up with. What I did note was how this appears to be a particularly questionable example of what is just different, non-mainstream or subversive behaviour being labeled 'abnormal' :
The term "passive-aggressive" was introduced in a 1945 U.S. War Department technical bulletin, describing soldiers who weren't openly insubordinate but shirked duty through procrastination, willful incompetence, and so on. If you've ever served in the military during wartime, though, or for that matter read Catch-22, you realize that what the brass calls a personality disorder a grunt might call a rational strategy to avoid getting killed.
Indeed, it's equally arguable that to follow orders blindly when it puts your life at risk is abnormal, given that survival is the highest instinct. Check out the criteria for diagnosis :
passive resistance to fulfilling social and occupational tasks through procrastination and inefficiency; complaints of being misunderstood, unappreciated, and victimized by others; sullenness, irritability, and argumentativeness in response to expectations; angry and pessimistic attitudes toward a variety of events; unreasonable criticism and scorn toward those in authority; envy and resentment toward those who are more fortunate; self-definition as luckless in life and an inclination to whine and grumble about being jinxed; alternating behavior between hostile assertion of personal autonomy and dependent contrition.
So what's wrong with any of that? They're just grumpy bastards, surely that's no worse than being stupid and acquiescent?

1 comment:

nailpolishblues said...

I'm all for grumpy bastards. T least grumpy bastards are honest. I never trust anyone who acquiesces without thought or motivation [though I do count being indolent as a motivator].