Karpman’s Drama Triangle

You and the Drama Triangle.

You may already know about Karpman’s Drama Triangle? Either way, read on as you may just discover something that could shift  your perspective and lead to an easier day/week/year/life (delete as they occur!).

Not surprisingly, I work with many people who are in the midst of a turmoil of one kind or another. The great thing about those times when we feel stretched by life is there is always the potential to create huge learnings from these times that can shift everything later on – and in an incredibly positive way.

So before you read on, I’d like to invite you to think about the relationships in your life, particularly the ones that maybe aren’t feeling that good to you right now, or where things just aren’t being experienced as you would like them to be. Also, consider how you react to situations that you experience on a day-to-day basis. What patterns do you notice that you create on your own?

Here is the Drama Triangle:

Drama Triangle
Karpman’s Drama Triangle. www.kirstyhanly.co.uk














The triangle is a model for exploring the relationship between personal power and responsibility. It outlines three roles:

Victim (not actual, but behavioural):
The victim may feel powerless, helpless, undermined, oppressed, unable to make decisions, hopeless, often ashamed, etc. They look to find rescuers to take them out of their situation, but will also unconsciously seek out persecutors so they can perpetuate their victim mentality. Their mindset is “the world is/people are out to get me”

The persecutor will seek out both Victims and Rescuers to blame, get angry, control, oppress, be dominant over. They often use shame-based behaviours to get what they want and are highly judgemental of others. They tend to take a superior stance of “it’s all your fault“.

Often feels that they are doing good and experiences guilt if they don’t help what they perceive to be a person (Victim) in need. The trouble is that they need a victim to rescue and seek them out like a vampire would fresh blood or create them out of whomever they can find.  This is a highly negative pattern that often feels frustrating to the rescuer, and so as with all these patterns will move around the triangle from Rescuer to Victim and/or Persecutor as  feelings like frustration, anger, or as a lack of time, or tiredness arrises. Their position is ” You need help, let me…“.

These are all behaviours created by the unconscious mind to feel safe. The Victim gets to feel safe by hiding behind others, the Rescuer by beeing needed and the Persecutor by hurting others and therefore elevating their own perceived status. Safety is the primary role of the unconscious mind, so it can be that a person is incredibly hooked into these roles, often floating between the different polarities.

Does it remind you of Transactional Analysis?
Absolutely. Karpman created the Drama Triangle when he was a student of Eric Berne M.D, creator of Transactional Analysis. If you are familiar with T.A. you will maybe already see that the answer to all of this is two things: The first is awareness and the second, for a person to take the ‘Adult’ stance in a relationship where they do not engage in facilitating another’s position in the triangle. An ‘Adult’ will  not rescue the Victim, not behave like a victim when a Persecutor is on the loose, and not blame others for what is going on and persecute for circumstances that are occurring. Simply, an Adult takes responsibility and doesn’t get triggered into Drama triangle responses.

Relationships and What Else? It’s important that you look at this not just in relation to your relationships but also in how you operate in the world. I noticed relatively recently that I have a tendency when I’ve lots going on, to push harder, work longer, do more and create bigger. In effect, I am my own Persecutor as I start to lose the ability to slow down and rest as the army officer is shouting at me to “Go Go GO!“. My mind often then creates sickness in order for me to slow the heck down and I can slip into ‘poor me’ victim mode so I can rescue myself and begin the pattern again. That is pretty tiring, let me tell you, and a great thing to have awareness of so I can begin to create more effective patterns in busy times.

So how to use this in your life? I encourage you to bring awareness to what it is you do and begin to open up the possibilities of creating new, more ‘Adult’ behaviours that can serve you better. If you find yourself helping others at your own expense or blaming someone else for what you are experiencing, or feeling hard done by and looking for someone else to step in a create a change in the situation, look at how you could let go of that old way of being and take responsibility for your own experience more fully.

This awareness can be just the start of a change that can create an incredible shift in your life. If you’d like to dive deeper into what that can mean and how we could work together to create that just drop me a line here.

This site is all about my Cognitive Hypnotherapy work specifically. If you would like more information on what it is to coach with me – integrating therapeutic change and deep coaching in a 360 degree way, over time, to create incredible career, relationship, and life shifts, just pop over to www.InspiringLivesCoaching.com and contact me for more information on how we can begin that conversation.

Step out of the Drama Triangle and create a difference that could be the difference in moving towards an incredible life.