Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lying and Passive-Aggressive Behavior

(This blog was originally posted on November 28, 2016)

Photo by Rick Hustead

Lying, losing syndrome, procrastination, the desire to control authority and a tendency to lose a job/get fired are all manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior, observed Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas Ph.D. and his colleague, psychiatrist Dr. Ron Hodges, M.D. Furthermore, a passive-aggressive person typically has very childlike, neurotic behavior, low-self-esteem, is not assertive and tends to be impulsive. This person also tells lies to control authority figures and avoid conflict with other people. The decision to tell the truth (or not) depends on how the person believes or expects the other party to react, Dr. Kappas explained. However, these deceptions usually only make the situation worse for the person.

“Sooner or later, lies catch up with you,” he said.

According to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, passive-aggressive behavior typically begins between the ages of three and six years. This age span is categorized as the third, or play age/loco-motor stage of development, when the youngster is developing a sense of independence. At this age, a child is motivated to try new things and show initiative. However, if the parents/guardians discourage or even punish the child for asserting independence this way, he or she is likely to become angry, frustrated and/or guilty and behave in various ways to “punish” the parents, Dr. Kappas said.

However, it is the passive-aggressive person who typically suffers the consequences of this behavior. For example, a child may insist that he doesn’t have to use the toilet before going on a car trip and then wets his pants five minutes into the journey. In adulthood, this behavior may carry over so the person sabotages his career. If there are conflicts in a romantic relationship, the person may leave clues that she is having an affair so the partner deduces what is going on without her actually having to confess about the other relationship.

To help a client resolve such passive-aggressive behavior, Dr. Kappas recommended working to increase the person’s self-confidence and self-esteem. “The lying will decrease as confidence builds.” The next step is to expose and desensitize the person to different situations that could trigger the lying response. The hypnotherapist should also work with the client to be able to face people and diplomatically resolve conflicts, which will also reduce the urge to tell a lie, the HMI founder added.

It is important to construct a framework in which a client can cognitively, consciously identify and understand how and why he uses passive-aggressive behavior to deal with a conflict. In hypnosis, therapeutic techniques such as role-playing, hypnodrama or guided imagery can help identify, address and desensitize the person to various stimuli that trigger lying. (For example, have the client imagine talking to the boss to ask for a raise.) While the person is relaxed and in hypnosis, the hypnotherapist should give suggestions that replace the person’s negative/self-destructive behaviors (e.g., passive-aggression) with constructive beliefs about increased self-worth/self-confidence and positive behaviors (e.g., problem-solving skills).

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
© 2017