top of page

Who needs drama? Getting out of the Drama Triangle

Most people don't love drama yet find themselves entangled in it on the regular. It shows up at home, at work, in relationships, even in the Starbuck drive through! When involved in drama, it is easy to point out how the other party is contributing, but it is difficult to acknowledge our own contribution to the dynamic. Over the next few weeks, we will do a deep dive into the Drama Triangle and explore the different roles and how we can move away from drama, and instead, enjoy more peaceful interactions and relationships. In doing so, we give the gift of intentional interactions and move from reactivity to responsiveness. Coaching can be a helpful tool in recognizing yourself in the drama triangle and exploring alternatives.

Stephan Karpman proposed the Drama Triangle in 1968. In his model, he explains the dynamic of drama in three distinct roles: the persecutor, the victim, and the rescuer. In any drama dynamic, exists the three roles. You don't need three people, and one person can fall into all three roles, even in one conversation. This dynamic is very reactive and highly rooted in emotion. Most of the time, when the dust settles, people wish they would have handled things differently. They key to the Drama Triangle is recognizing your own role, so you can make a different decision. Also, if you recognize someone else in the triangle, you are there too!

The persecutor in this triangle is known as the bully. The persecutor is usually fed up with the situation and blames everyone else. The persecutor creates pain and pressure to the victim. The interesting thing about the persecutor is that it doesn't have to even be a person. It can be a situation, like poverty, racism, addiction, being short-staffed, and more. Another factor to consider is there must be a persecutor role to have a victim and there doesn't need to have actual persecution to create a victim.

The victim in this triangle is the person who is or feels victimized. They feel the pain or pressure from the persecutor and react with blame and shame as well. They have a hard time taking accountability for their contribution and feel like none is their fault and all of their troubles are because of the person, the thing, the reality, the world. They often feel helpless and hopeless and therefore the victim stops trying and often stay in the victim mindset.

The rescuer in this triangle is the person or thing the victim goes to for comfort or help. It relieves the pain or pressure the victim is feeling. This can be through solving their problems for them, letting them vent and coddling them, or numbing pain through drugs/alcohol/food/sex/gambling or other addictive behavior. The rescuer keeps the victim the victim, partly for their own need to be needed. The rescuer, in their need to help, often times is hurting the victim and perpetuates the drama.

Each of these roles need each other to exist. If we can remove one role, the triangle will fall flat.

Here are some self-reflection questions that will help you recognize yourself in the drama triangle:

  • When you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, how do you respond? Example - do you look at where you have control, or do you find an external reason for your suffering?

  • How often do you find yourself thinking for people who can think for themselves?

  • How much time do you spend venting or listening to venting?

  • When things are not going your way, how do you respond?

  • How much value to you get from helping others? Are you able to ask for help when you need it?

Next week, we will dive into the victim role and how you can shift feeling like a victim into something more empowering.

Comment with any questions about with drama triangle!

4 views0 comments


bottom of page