Another Aggressive Personality Primer

Aggressive Personality Definition

What is an aggressive personality? It’s a distinct type of narcissist. While most habitual aggressors are narcissists, not all narcissists are habitual aggressors. There are several very different types of narcissists. And some are much more “benign” (i.e. relatively harmless) than others. Compensatory, “vulnerable,” neurotic types are generally quite inwardly insecure. And all they want is for people to value and affirm them. Granted, the way some of these folks go about things can be pretty unappealing. But others (like “amorous” narcissists) can be quite charming. Still, these more benign narcissists are unlikely to intentionally do you severe harm.

Character disturbed or “grandiose” narcissists are different. They see themselves as above you. And accordingly, they feel entitled to use and abuse you. Some of these folks have a particularly malignant form of narcissism. They lack the ability and/or willingness to care. In their eyes, you’re a mere object to exploit. And they’ll do so without compunction or remorse.

I’ve written before about the aggressive personality types. See, for example:

Aggressing as a Lifestyle

We human beings are an inherently agressive lot. We fight, and fight often. Most of us fight for the things we want or think we need. And when we do so mindfully, with care not to needlessly hurt or damage, we are best described as assertive. (See also: p. 97 in Character Disturbance and p. 39 in In Sheep’s Clothing.)

Now, even though we all do a lot of fighting, most of us don’t aggress as a lifestyle. But some folks fight far too often, too intensively, for poor reasons, and without concern who might get hurt. All that matters is that they get what they want. And some of these habitual aggressors even set out to injure. Some aggress openly, whereas others do so covertly. But the aggressive personality is always out to win and often at all costs. Such a mindset and behavior inherently takes a heavy toll on relationships.

Anger and Aggression

I’ve written before about the relationship between anger and aggression. But because there’s so much misunderstanding about this relationship, it’s worth revisiting the issue.

We’ve long known that anger and aggression are linked. But for too long we’ve been shortsided about the direction of the relationship. We’ve long assumed that anger always precipitates aggression. Something upsets someone, then they lash out. Makes sense, right? So, if we help someone not get so upset, maybe they won’t lash out as often or as intensely. That’s the theory upon which most anger-management programs are founded. But aggressive personalities don’t aggress because they’re angry. They aggress mainly because they want something. Moreover, when they do get angry it’s usually because they’ve been denied something they went after. That’s right. Often, anger is the result, not the precipitant of their aggression.

Consider the “aggressive” driver (ironically, often erroneously called the “angry” driver). He or she weaves through traffic lanes racing toward the intersection before the already yellow light can turn red. Are they determined to shave 5 minutes off their trip because they’re angry? No! Anger isn’t their main motivation. They just want to get to their destination, and on their own time schedule. Moreover, they feel entitled to make that happen however they can. They become angry when someone or something gets in their way – impedes their mission.

Habitual aggressors often do poorly in anger management programs because the model typically employed is inappropriate. Too often programs don’t focus on the habitually aggressive predispositions of the attendees and the anger that sometimes results. The programs just don’t understand the nature of the aggressive personality.


I’ll be talking more about the aggressive personalities on the current Character Matters episode. You can access the podcast “All About Narcissism – Episode 7: Pathological Lying” on YouTube. And I’ll be making an announcement next week about the first live broadcast. It will be a Facebook Live event that all can attend, and the recording will post to YouTube.

And remember also to check out the online course Overcoming Emotional Abuse and Deception at Avaiya University, in which I talk about he gaslighting effect.

4 thoughts on “Another Aggressive Personality Primer

  1. “Moreover, when they do get angry it’s usually because they’ve been denied something they went after. That’s right. Often, anger is the result, not the precipitant of their aggression.”

    Say no to a covert aggressor and you will pay dearly for it. We lost a son because of his CA spouse. Was it worth saying “no?” All I can say is we have kept our self worth and principles intact and we sleep better at night. Maybe one day he will realize devaluing oneself is not love.

  2. D.

    So true, on all counts.
    “Maybe one day he will realize devaluing oneself is not love.”
    That keeps running through my mind.
    Keeping it mind when it comes to my daughter.
    Kept falling in the trap of thinking she just didn’t understand.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. I’m sure my daughter is somewhere on the narc scale. She is a puppet master who wants to control everyone, when she feels she looses some of this control she lashes out. I try and get along with her but I am feeling better about myself and speaking out more and she of course doesn’t like it, but what can she do about it? I repeat back her words when she crosses a boundary so she can hear it, she will laugh, not apologize. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking its not that bad, that she is mostly good, but she has so many signs of narcissism and although she manages her image and most people think she is just so nice, they don’t see what I see when the narcissism comes out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *