When the behaviors are part of a person's personality disorder or personality style, repercussions are not usually immediate, but instead accumulate over time as the individuals affected by the person come to recognize the disavowed aggression coming from that person. People with this personality style are often quite unconscious of their impact on others, and thus may be genuinely dismayed when held to account for the inconvenience or discomfort caused by their passive-aggressive behaviors. In that context, they fail to see how they might have provoked a negative response, so they feel misunderstood, held to unreasonable standards, and/or put-upon.
Treatment of this disorder can be difficult: efforts to convince the subject that their unconscious feelings are being expressed passively, and that the passive expression of those feelings (their behavior) inspires other people's anger or disappointment with the patient, are often met with resistance. Individuals with the disorder will frequently leave treatment claiming that it did no good. Since the effectiveness of various therapies has yet to be proven, these individuals may be correct.
Passive aggressive disorder is said to stem from a specific childhood stimulus (e.g. overbearing parental figures, or alcohol/drug addicted parents).
The term "passive-aggressive" was first used by the U.S. military during World War II, when military psychiatrists noted the behavior of soldiers who displayed passive resistance and reluctant compliance to orders.
There are certain behaviors that help identify passive-aggressive behavior.
A passive-aggressive person may not have all of these behaviors, and may have other non-passive-aggressive traits.