Friday, March 5, 2010

Passive Agressiveness and Refusing to Bathe

One of the most frustrating and difficult things to deal with is a passive aggressive spouse, friend or co-worker who refuses to bathe. Unable to express their anger, frustration, needs or wants, they simple "strike out" the only way they know how - by offending those around them with their stink and body odor. Although there are many annoying ways to get the attention of those they want to "teach a lesson to," there is nothing quite like not bathing for weeks or months on end. Smelling like a dead and rotting animal or a men's bus station urinal is one way they can express their anger - all the while knowing most people are too polite or afraid to speak up about the stench they bring with them when they enter a room.

Some of the beliefs passive aggressive people hold are:
  • I am self-sufficient, but I do need others to help me reach my goals.
  • The only way I can preserve my self-respect is by asserting myself indirectly, for example, by not carrying out instructions exactly, or by not bathing, or being compliant with social mores and expectations.
  • I like to be attached to people but I am unwilling to pay the price of being dominated.
  • Authority figures tend to be intrusive, demanding, interfering, and controlling.
  • I have to resist the domination of authorities but at the same time maintain their approval and acceptance.
  • Being controlled or dominated by others is intolerable.
  • Making deadlines, complying with demands, and conforming are direct blows to my pride and self-sufficiency.
  • If I follow the rules the way people expect, it will inhibit my freedom of action.
  • It is best not to express my anger directly but to show my displeasure by not conforming, by not bathing, or by not complying with what is acceptable behavior.
  • I know what's best for me and other people shouldn't tell me what to do.
  • Rules are arbitrary and stifle me.
  • Other people are often too demanding.
  • If I regard people as too bossy, I have a right to disregard their demands. 
Getting a passive aggressive spouse, friend or co-worker to bathe is all but impossible without professional, mental health intervention. An employer can threaten to fire an employee who refuses to comply with sound basic hygiene, but even then the passive aggressive will push the limits, demanding to know what level of stench constitutes a violation of probation. If daily bathes are adhered to in order to keep a job, the passive aggressive will find other ways to sabotage the workplace. You aren't solving the problem of the passive aggressiveness. You're merely displacing it.

Spouses may rail and rant and threaten the non-bathing spouse, tempt them with sex if the partner agrees to bathe, or ignore them entirely. But the root issue - the passive aggressive personality disorder, is not corrected. The issue lies deeper than getting them to bathe. You must get them into therapy and professional counseling or decide to leave them. You are in for a long, hard journey and even worse symptoms as they begin to confront their pain and their mental health issues.


  1. Bruce from Hyannis refuses to bathe regularly .only when coerced through intimidation or threats of eviction. He has other passive aggressive Behavior such as slamming doors late at night.
    he constantly breaks things ACCIDENTLY.
    (toilet seat twice, railing on stairs , plates , cups , ashtrays , vacuum cleaners etc............
    throw cig butts on floor in garage on driveways walkway even after being asked Not to ...
    goes on babbling talking jags that have nothing to do with the conversation being had , interrupts others .
    Comments non stop on the television shows being watched ....
    possibly the character on the tv CAN hear him ??
    leaves one sip of milk in gallon containers in fridge. leaves crumbs on community tables and counters. is this buy any chance Passive aggressive ??
    please comment on this am I going OCD on this guy or IS HE a real passive aggressive loony

  2. wow im glad i read this,, a freind of mine recently stayed a little while at my place, and his stench was un bearable i told him to bath and he responded by drinking a glass of wine and passing out.. i told him in the morning that if he pulled that number again i would kick him out,,,,he also has a tendency to stomparound and act like he is brain dead,,he is other wise a nice guy but now i no that he is actualy abusive and violent,,, "passive agressive"

  3. I have refused to wash or wash my hair unless filthy for months. But am holding a job as a nurse. No one knows. It started when my Mum passed, due to guilt and depression. I am also with a horribly controlling partner and unhappy. he keeps bullying me to wash and shower. I refuse. He says it is abnormal. I am not mentally ill, I just do not want to wash my hair, or look nice. I use deodorant if I really have to but try not to. I stopped buying clothes . I use wipes if I feel dirty but I think bullying people into washing and showering is not right. Why should I shower just because someone else thinks I ought to. I am old, 57 and I cannot see this changing. I don;t want to.