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Sullivan (1953) spoke about what he called the ‘malevolent transformation’: When children learn that their need for tenderness will be met with rebuff, ridicule, or pain, they come to associate the need for tenderness with anxiety; subsequently, in any situation that tends to evoke the need for tenderness, the child will instead act ‘bad.’ This ‘badness’ can look like aggression or it can take a more passive-aggressive form. Such a child ‘makes it practically impossible for anyone to feel tenderly toward him or treat him kindly; he beats them to it, so to speak, by the display of his attitude.
— Altman, N., Briggs, R., Frankel, J., Gensler, D. & Pantone, P. (2002). Relational child psychotherapy. New York: Other Press
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