Passive Aggressive Diaries

Understanding passive aggressive behavior in families, schools, and workplaces

"It's Important for Me to Get My Jabs In:" Passive Aggressive Behavior on VH-1's "Sex Rehab"

Dr. Drew's "Sex Rehab" features Passive Aggressive Behavior

Dr. Drew is always good for shedding light on mental health issues; Keri Ann's passive aggressive note to Kendra, on the third episode of VH-1's "Sex Rehab," ought to provide some good material to process in the group's sessions. Check out this clip to watch passive aggresion in action:

Notice how Keri Ann, unwilling to own her own anger, declares, "This is her anger..." referring to her castmate, Kendra. Passive aggressive people operate by getting others to act out the anger that they are harboring. If you have time, check out the rest of the episode and watch how Kendra is hooked into the passive aggressive dance.

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What do you think about how Keri Ann signs the note? "I'd love to be your friend...Love, Keri Ann xoxo" A little incongruous with the tone of the rest of the message, right? Another classic passive aggressive tactic. This gives Keri Ann the ability to deny her anger when confronted and to insist, "See...I was trying to be her friend..."

When Amber tells Keri Ann that the note is a bit combative, Keri Ann's admits that it is important for her to get her "jabs in," an acknowledgement of the note's underlying angry message. Keri Ann also follows up by saying that if she didn't get those passive aggressive jabs in...she's just come right out with her anger by calling Kendra a "tranny face." In her world, that direct expression of emotions is unacceptable, overwhelming, scary, forbidden & impossible at this point in her emotional development.

Have you seen the episode? What do you think about Keri Ann's passive aggression and its impact on the other patients?

Signe Whitson is a licensed social worker and co-author of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed.


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