I have noticed in my 50+ years of life that there are people who take joy (sometimes great joy) out of “getting under” another person’s skin. Is there a clinical definition for this behavior? Perhaps it is a personality disorder.

(There is a non-clinical way to describe such a person but civility restrains me).

I have noticed that people who exhibit this behavior seem to be looking for a reaction. And by seeing a reaction to what they say, they see their control over another person. It may also be the only way the person knows how to impress others (possibly due to low self-esteem).

I have searched the internet and all I have found so far is information on how to deal with such a person.


Taking joy in irritating others is unlikely to be classifiable as a personality disorder, however, the Dark Triad describes individuals with disagreeable habits. In combination with other extremely adverse behaviours, it is perhaps classifiable as Conduct disorder or Narcissistic personality disorder.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I see your point. The behavior itself may be part of a disorder and not a disorder in itself. Is there a succinct term or word for this behavior? $\endgroup$
    – tale852150
    Apr 21 at 0:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are several words that may apply depending upon the extremity of the irritating behaviour. Candidates may be irritate, torment, provoke, needle, infuriate, grate, annoy, bully, and aggravate. $\endgroup$
    – Tony Mobbs
    Apr 21 at 0:39

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