Persecuter, Rescuer or Victim, What Do You Prefer?

Persecuter, Rescuer or Victim, What Do You Prefer?

There are signs that Spring is at my door. Today is a snowy Sunday but there are signs that spring is closer than ever!

March is in two days! And my kids are in their March break so activity time. The City Book Fair is on and we met so many cool authors!

There was that author who wrote about how to deal positively with people. The book is full of work and personal examples about how in conflict situations, we tend to be either the victim, the persecuter or the rescuer. It is the Karpman Triangle or you may know it as the Drama Triangle.

Here’s a little history about that triangle from wiki:

Karpman drama triangle

The Karpman Drama Triangle models the connection between personal responsibility and power in conflicts, and the destructive and shifting roles people play. He defined three roles in the conflict; Persecutor, Rescuer (the one up positions) and Victim (one down position). Karpman placed these three roles on an inverted triangle and referred to them as being the three aspects, or faces of drama. Karpman chose the term “drama triangle” rather the term “conflict triangle” as the Victim in his model is not intended to represent an actual victim, but rather someone feeling or acting like a victim.

  1. The Victim: The Victim’s stance is “Poor me!” The Victim feels victimized, oppressed, helpless, hopeless, powerless, ashamed, and seems unable to make decisions, solve problems, take pleasure in life, or achieve insight. The Victim, if not being persecuted, will seek out a Persecutor and also a Rescuer who will save the day but also perpetuate the Victim’s negative feelings.
  2. The Rescuer: The rescuer’s line is “Let me help you.” A classic enabler, the Rescuer feels guilty if he/she doesn’t go to the rescue. Yet his/her rescuing has negative effects: It keeps the Victim dependent and gives the Victim permission to fail. The rewards derived from this rescue role are that the focus is taken off of the rescuer. When he/she focuses their energy on someone else, it enables them to ignore their own anxiety and issues. This rescue role is also very pivotal, because their actual primary interest is really an avoidance of their own problems disguised as concern for the victim’s needs.
  3. The Persecutor: The Persecutor insists, “It’s all your fault.” The Persecutor is controlling, blaming, critical, oppressive, angry, authoritative, rigid, and superior.

I remember studying it at University and during my work years in the Government, What I found interesting is that we can switch roles when the situation evolves…and the important concept to remember here is that it is only that ROLE PLAYING.

We can use the Karpman Drama Triangle to answer questions like:

  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Are you getting “caught in the middle” of relationship squabbles and power struggles?
  • Do you feel anxiety or fear around the economy, your job, or your personal level of success?

Such drama always drains your energy and impacts your personal effectiveness. What you have to remind yourself is that there is always that voice in your head that makes you doubt your ability, or the fear that you don’t have enough influence, time or money.

You have to control that voice to stop the drama and get on with your life.

One way to do this is to change the “us versus them” mentality that we often have without realizing it. Everything is relational, and if you want change, first see yourself differently. If you want to change a relationship with another person, just learn how to “see” that person differently. For example:

Years ago, I had a boss that I did not respect. I viewed him as “a rock that could not be reasoned with.” I had good evidence to support my view, and plenty of people at many levels who would have agreed with my assessment. However, when I got perfectly clear (about my desires and intentions), I decided I needed to see him differently. I started seeing him as a fellow worker—a human being who had struggles just like me. Then I decided to make my decisions based on who I was, not on how he behaved. I made a new commitment and I was at peace. From that decision, our relationship immediately shifted toward the positive.

That can be applied in all aspects of our lifes and in today’s shift in business where relationship is so important, being able to see people the way they are and not the way we perceive them is an important asset for our personal and business success.

Think about it.



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