Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Angry Smile


The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces
by Jody E. Long, Nicholas J. Long & Signe Whitson

(Pro-Ed / 1-416-40423-6 / 978-1-416-40423-1 / Second Edition / December 2008 / 171 pages / $23.85)
Reviewed by Juliet Waldron for PODBRAM

This book is the result of four decades of research and hands-on-practice with troubled adolescents, children and adults written by three experienced professionals in the psychoanalytic field. Laid out in a step-by-step format, easy to read and access, it takes the reader through the all-too common world of passive-aggressive behavior.

Part One defines psychological terms and their proper use in the work, and then briefly discusses the coining of the term by Colonel William Menninger, an army psychiatrist during the Second World War. Developmental pathways to a Passive-Aggressive Personality and the reasons why people often resort to employing these completes the first section. Part Two gives, in careful (and maddening!) detail, examples of this behavior as it creates a vicious cycle of arguments and relationship-damaging wars of words between parents and children, children and teachers, spouses, friends, and in our workplaces. Part Three deals with the challenges of confronting this behavior, and how to resist the temptation to counter-aggression. The last two chapters deal with altering our responses to passive-aggression, and a six-step method of benign confrontation, which can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.

As a lay person, I found the book not only informative, but lucid and easy to follow. About the only way this guide to defusing passive-aggression could have been improved might have been for the authors to provide a workbook section to provide further practice with the coping strategies provided. The Angry Smile is a succinct and satisfying treatise that will be useful for anyone, from the professional to the ordinary individual who is confronting a ceaseless cycle of tension and frustration in a personal relationship.


See Also: Another review of The Angry Smile

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