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Drop Yourself out of the Drama Triangle

November 12, 2015

Have you ever heard of the ‘Drama Triangle’? If you haven’t, read on because it’s highly likely that you already take part in it without even realizing, and this will be having a tremendously negative impact on your relationships.

The Drama Triangle

The Drama Triangle is a theory that was developed by psychiatrist Steven Karpman in 1968, and represents destructive roles played out between two people. There are three roles that make up the Drama Triangle – the rescuer, victim and persecutor and here’s how they are defined:

  1. Rescuer – they are always attempting to rescue those they deem vulnerable, often giving too much of their energy to others, which results in feelings of resentment.
  2. Victim – they feel hard done by, vulnerable and take little responsibility for themselves. The victim seeks out a rescuer to help them. 
  3. Persecutor – the persecutor usually feels like they are the victim, which results in anger and sometimes even punishment.

This might sound like psychology mumble jumble but it really makes sense, let us now explain it in simple terms:

Picture this scenario in your mind – you have a friend who always has dramas in their life and they continuously look to you for support (at this stage, your friend is the victim and you are the rescuer) but in helping your friend and being the rescuer, your energy is often depleted and you feel unappreciated (you have now fallen into the victim role and your friend has become the persecutor) as a result, you show anger towards your friend and they fall back into the victim role, while you become the persecutor.

The Destructive Game

If you fall into any one of the Drama Triangle roles, it’s certain that you also participate in the others. The Drama Triangle is also known as the ‘victim triangle’ because all roles fall victim in the end. It’s rather like a game and it can only go on as long as both people take part; as soon as one person removes themselves, the game ends. 

The Drama Triangle is highly destructive and anyone taking part in it will have struggled relationships with most people around them. 

How to Remove Yourself from It

If you remove yourself from the Drama Triangle you’ll find that relationship issues rarely come your way but when they do, you’ll be able to deal with them in a calm, diffusing manner. The first step is acknowledgment – realizing that you actively take part in the Drama Triangle. It is only when this happens that you have the opportunity to make change. 

The next step is removing yourself from it. You can do this by accepting that you are responsible for you and others are responsible for themselves. It means adopting a real ‘adult’ tone, apologies if it sounds patronizing but we so often slip into childlike mindsets without realizing, which puts us in a victim role. Accept full responsibility for yourself, of course you can appreciate others people’s kindness but don’t rely on them. Similarly, don’t feel pressurized to assist others, and only do so when it doesn’t deplete from you. 

What are your thoughts on the Drama Triangle? Are you honest enough to say that you’ve taken part in it, and how has it impacted you? Leave your comments below. 

-SA

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