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Author Topic: 2.01 | Karpman Drama Triangle  (Read 82979 times)
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« on: October 01, 2007, 06:45:48 AM »

This purpose of this workshop is to discuss the dynamics of difficult family and partner relationships and how we become caught up in them.

The Karpman  Triangle, described by Stephen Karpman and elaborated by many others, is a very useful tool for understanding "stuck" relationship dynamics.

The idea is that we often find ourselves playing out scripts. These roles feel safe, as they are familiar; we slip into as comfortable as we sink into the us-shaped indent in our own beds.

But they are very limiting.

They keep us trapped.
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2007, 11:51:33 AM »

Our Dysfunctional Roles with Others



Read our feature article here:

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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2007, 01:43:11 AM »

My understanding is that these positions are not stable. So for example if you play the role of the Rescuer and the other person plays the role of the Victim, then sooner or later you are going to feel resentful towards the Victim and you could end placed in the role of Victim to their Persecutor.

To an extent I can see that played out with my own BPmother. My mother is a BP Queen, so she regards herself as nobodies Victim. Quite the opposite in that she likes nothing better than to find people who are in some way weaker than her and see herself in the role of their Rescuer, but as a result ultimately they end up feeling like her subject or Victim!

Anyway, earlier in the year she broke her arm and for the first time in my life I saw her as the more vulnerable one and did all I could to help and support her during that time. Looking back I realise how much more pleasant she was during that time, so much more humble and human! Now eight months on she is all better and has become an absolute monster, far worse than previously.

What I think happened was this. When she was unwell she ended up feeling that she was more vulnerable which in effect forced her into the role of Victim and me into the role of Rescuer. Now that she looks back I think she deeply resents the fact that she lost a bit of power in the relationship, (as she sees it), consequently she has now turned the tables on me and has become a Persecutor, which forces me into the role of Victim, (as she is quite literally making me sick!)

I think that the ideal is to avoid these roles as much as possible. This can be very hard if the other person takes an extreme stance, which people with BPD are liable to do.
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2008, 09:23:45 AM »

It's important to remember that people who are truly victimized have little/no power or choices right now (whereas someone acting in the victim role, DOES have power and choices)

And - no one can truly rescue someone who is not in a true victim situation (e.g. kidnapped, war prisoner, abducted, being actively abused, etc.) - otherwise, "rescuing" is really trying to change someone, inder the guise of "I know what is best for them".  One cannot "rescue" someone from their past victimization - the person has to heal that - not get "rescued" from it.

Both the rescuer and victim roles of the triangle can switch to persecutor, when their role doesn't work.

The classic role of someone with BPD is to start in the "victim" role (with the non entering the drama triangle as the rescuer)

As the interaction is not really about solutions (because it's drama, not healthy interactions), the roles of the people in the drama change.

So, in the BPD interaction - the BPD changes during drama from the victim role to the persecutor (getting angry and lashing out at the non) (or the non can get angry that their "rescuing" isn't working and begin persecuting the BPD)

The non in the drama triangle can also switch from the rescuer to the victim role, if the BPD switches to persecutor.

Ideally - we don't engage in drama.

No drama looks like: normal person + helper person = solution

However in drama people just engage in one of these three roles, and the roles can switch - with no solutions in site.

An NPD usually enters the drama (perceiving themselves) as the rescuer then gets angry his/her ideas about rescuing aren't honored for the brilliance they assume - then they switch to persecutor.

The non may (if in drama) be the victim to the NPD's rescue - then become persecuted for not doing their part to be rescued as the NPD wishes.

Molly
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2008, 08:39:02 AM »

Recognizing the dynamics and admitting your place in the triangle is the first step. Now you need an action plan on how to change things.

The hardest part is always the first step.
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2008, 11:27:07 AM »

Ideally - we don't engage in drama.
 
No drama looks like: normal person + helper person = solution
 
However in drama people just engage in one of these three roles, and the roles can switch - with no solutions in site.

Good insights.
 
What can we do if we are on a drama triangle - how do we exit?
 
There is a very simply stated strategy published by the Self Help Alliance (Camrbidge, Ontario) for dealing with these situations called "Move to the Center".
 
       
 
  • Move into the center. Resist the temptation to play an exaggerated and complementary role to a Victim, Rescuer or Persecutor. You do not want to stabilize an unpleasant situation. Instead, find and hold the center position, thereby marginalizing your adversary and eliminating their power base. The center of the drama triangle contains elements of each corner. It is a combination of sensitivity, compassion, and responsibility.

  • Refuse to accept your opponent’s force. Do not struggle with them, or yield to them; instead, allow your opponent to move into an indefensible position.

If you have successfully taken the center, your adversary will halt their attacks, rather than risk unmasking themselves and exposing the game.
 
In the style of Eastern Philosophy, you don't want to cast a loved one as your opponent; rather, take their bad habits and unskillful means as your enemy, and destroy them with your awareness and enlightened skills.
 
How do we effect change that will make our environment less prone to drama triangles
 
We change our own personal dynamics so that the triangle is attractive to us.
 
Assert rather than persecute. Instead of the actions of the Persecutor, who blame and punish - give up trying to force or manipulate others to do what you want. Take on the new behaviors of "doing" and "asserting". Ask for what we want. Say no for what you don't want. Give constructive feedback. Initiate negotiations. Take positive action.
 
Be vulnerable, but not a victim. "Victims" often feel overwhelmed, too defeated to solve their problems and emotional. They look to someone else to do it for them. Instead of the Victim role you need to be emotionally mature (vulnerable, not needy), accept the situation you are in and take responsibility to problem solve and function in a more healthy and happy way. Put real thought into what you want and how to get it, and take action to make it happen.
 
Be caring, but don't overstep. We do not want to let our fears, obligation and guilt to control us or allow us to be manipulated into taking care of another person when it really isn't healthy to do so. Instead of being the Rescuer and doing the thinking, taking the lead, doing more than our share, doing more than is asked of us -  simply be a supportive, empathetic listener and provide reflection, coaching, and assistance if the person asks and is taking the lead themselves. It is important to recognize the other person as an equal (not one-down) and give the other person the respect of letting them take care of themselves, solve their own problems, and deal with their feelings as they choose. Remember, the rescuer has the most pivotal position on the drama triangle - you are in the strongest position, at least initially, to redirect the dynamic into healthy territory.
 

 
More here
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2009, 12:35:10 AM »

The reality is that it's a HUGE relief to me to be told that it's actually okay NOT to rescue people, NOT to always be the "good guy" and NOT to feel as though I fail others simply because I don't feel the same as they do. For the first time in my life, I feel authentic and self-directed. Do I still fight the urge to rush in and rescue? Yes. But, I also recognize situations where that instinct is being played upon to manipulate me and I can shut it down.

The whole intention of this site is to give YOU the power to lead your life in a grounded, predictable, reasoned way.

Once you structure your own thoughts and feelings and stop reacting to every drama that comes along, you gain that power.

Keep working at it... .life's about change. It never stays the same.

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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2009, 07:15:53 AM »

Very relevant for many here... .and knowing that any of the 3 main roles keep us stuck is important to know.  I had mentioned something in another thread recently about "The resilient child" and another article on that subject. When we find that we are identifying to closely to any of the main roles, it is definitely time to take some personal inventory, and get unstuck.
 Remember that you can have some traits of each of the roles and switch back and forth between them!

 Perpetrator—“I Get To Feel Safe by Hurting Others and Putting Them Down”
 
  • Stuck in a false sense of superiority and defense mechanisms keep people in denial.
  • Addictive role—feeling the adrenalin rush during anger and rage. Getting high from fighting and witnessing fights. (If you get energized watching the Jerry Springer show, you might check out adrenalin addiction.)
  • Unconsciously uses anger as an energizer to keep depression at bay.
  • Needs to be in control and uses verbal or physical force to stay in power.
  • Deals with threat, new ideas and conflict with anger to stay safe in the role of being the dominant person.
  • Uses blame, criticisms, attacks and then venting to release stress.
  • Is highly judgmental of others and angry when others do not do what they say.
  • Self righteous judgments about others weaknesses subtly allows the weakness to continue.
  • Strong sense of entitlement—“you owe me” and willing to use verbal or physical force to get it.
  • Feelings of frustration trigger the right to get angry rather than deal with own uncomfortable feelings.
  • Unable to feel vulnerable and denies own weaknesses.
  • Shame based and uses negative behaviors to cover up/deny own problems.
  • Strong need to be right and not have their authority challenged.
  • Finds reasons to make others wrong and scapegoats them.
  • Believes others deserve the abuse and punishment the Perpetrators dishes out.
  • May have had a parent who modeled aggressive behavior and winning through force.
  • May have had a parent who spoiled the child setting up feelings of entitlement and getting his way.

 
 Rescuer—“I Get to Feel Safe by Enabling Others”

 
  • Stuck in a false superiority with defense of acting unselfishly to help others.
  • Addictive role—feeling good at the expense of others rights to take care of themselves.
  • Good guy beliefs, such as takes the “high moral ground” of rescuing and enabling others.
  • Needs to be in control of others to avoid own feelings and problems.
  • Garnering self-esteem by being seen as unselfish for someone else’s own good.
  • Uses rescuing and enabling to connect or to feel important.
  • Highly judgmental of others and angry when others do not do what he/she says.
  • Blames Perpetrator for problems in the family while refusing to address one’s own problems.
  • Is anxiety driven and uses rescuing to reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Guilts self when not involved with other’s problems.
  • Has shame about loss of self to meet others needs.
  • Super caretaker role can create sense of giving own self away and create depression.
  • Strong sense of entitlement with the Victim of “You owe me because of all I’ve done for you.”
  • Can become a martyr/Victim when he/she feels that he/she has been taken advantage of by others.
  • Parents the child though meeting his/her own needs of shame and guilt rather than meeting the needs of the child to be a responsible person who is allowed negative consequences and learns from them.
  • May feel guilty and try to make it up to a child because of a divorce or due to choosing a lousy spouse who abuses, scapegoats or neglects the child.
  • May feel guilty and try to make it up to a child because of drinking or using drugs when the child was small, neglecting the child or being a single mom.
  • May feel guilty and try to make it up to a child because of a handicapping condition or a perceived weakness in the child.

 Victim—“I Get to Feel Safe by being Submissive”
 
  • Stuck in a false sense of being unworthy with defenses of feeling sorry for self and passive aggressive behavior.
  • Deals with threats by giving in, in order to feel safe and is submissive when others act inappropriately.
  • Unable to stand up for self and avoids confrontation.
  • Believes his/her needs do not count.
  • Can be overly sensitive, wish-washy and unable to make and stick to decisions.
  • Doesn’t take responsibility for own feelings.
  • Feeds off of the beliefs of Perpetrator and rescuer that he/she cannot take care of self.
  • Has shame base for being irresponsible and inept.
  • Is anxiety driven and makes excuses for staying stuck in Victim-hood.
  • Blames Perpetrator for problems in the family.
  • Anger, resentment and retaliation through manipulation and refusal to act as a responsible adult.
  • Moves between “Poor me” and anger with blaming others “He/she is bad.”
  • Angry when goes along with what the Perpetrator or Rescuer says to do.
  • Feels stuck and unfulfilled in life but does not risk moving forward.
  • May have had a lenient or overly-protective parent who set up expectations of helplessness.
  • May have had a parent who feels anxiety when the child has to suffer natural consequences from mistakes.

 Fourth Role—The Neglector
 “I Get to Do What I Want and Ignore the Needs of Others”
 While Karpman did not describe this dynamic, the Neglectful Parent can cause anger, trauma and fears of abandonment in children.
 
  • Involved i
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« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2009, 06:24:28 AM »

This concept has been really helpful in moving forward, although a little... .well, it required some honesty from me. I think I have been stuck in a Victim role a great deal, and I certainly play it with my uBPD mother, who switches between Persecutor and Rescuer.
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2009, 09:45:51 PM »

Just because you're given/accused of assuming a role it doesn't mean you're actually playing it. With a BPD sufferer in particular, the roles are going to get thrown around as part of that person's own distorted thinking. And calling 911 when someone is in danger isn't acting as a Rescuer. It's actually rescuing. There's certainly a distinction.

The trouble is in our relationships with BPD sufferers, we get pulled into the triangle and perhaps have trouble distinguishing the truth of the situation (actually rescuing or enabling? setting boundaries or persecuting? being mistreated or acting the victim?). Also, for me it was a great big  Idea when I realized that when my mother, as a BPD sufferer who equates facts with feelings, FEELS victimized, she will find or create a Persecutor and a Rescuer, to complete the triangle. So from her own, internal, not-based-on-anything-in-the-external-world feeling, an entire triangle trap is created. She would seek me and others out to complete the play. It took a lot of awareness not to enter the triangle.

Taking advantage of this early warning system (uh oh, a Victim has show up, better think about how to avoid becoming the Persecutor or Rescuer) can help us defuse difficult situations earlier.

Another important benefit of recognizing these patterns, as random pointed out in a very thoughtful way, is that when exposed to these roles long enough, we come to view them as inevitable models for how to live. Random said:

Excerpt
Well, the thing is that I did get victimized. But the thing is, as an adult, I contributed to my own victimization and willingly entered into situations where I was seeking out a Rescuer, and wound up with a Persecutor.

Understanding these dynamics helps to free us.

B&W
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2009, 08:17:50 AM »

Excerpt
The trouble is in our relationships with BPD sufferers, we get pulled into the triangle and perhaps have trouble distinguishing the truth of the situation (actually rescuing or enabling? setting boundaries or persecuting? being mistreated or acting the victim?).

That's a really important point. And sometimes the situation will have elements of both dysfunctional role-play and real actions. Because life is messy  Smiling (click to insert in post)  For instance, in my case, I was actually being mistreated BUT I was also accepting mistreatment and submitting to inordinate amounts of control by another person. I entered the situations willingly and gave my power away in hopes of finally having the parent/family I always dreamed of.

And I'm starting to see that it's not wrong to want to have a family, to not feel alone in the world, to know that if you are sick or in trouble, you have people to ask for help. But it IS wrong to enter into relationships where the price for having those things is accepting the unacceptable and compromising myself as a person by accepting abuse.


With regards to Persecutorship, when a BPD person is accusing you of being one, they are actually Persecuting. It seems to me that there is a very sneaky abuse tactic that BPD folks often use, and that is bringing up a grievance. In theory, all things being equal, a person has a right to complain about something you are doing that is upsetting them. BUT. This social contract is something that gets twisted and used maliciously - like, my mother would constantly pick at everything I said and did, and how I said and did it, and the idea wasn't really that I was doing something that upset her. She complained in order to make me defend myself and in order to assert authority. Meanwhile, she was playing the victim. And when she started escalating her complaints into raging and I would try to leave the room, she would scream, "I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY THIS TO YOU!"

At first, this confused me so much and tied my brain into sailor knots, because I was pretty sure that I was just verbally abused and harassed, but then it does seem like a person should be able to talk about something you are doing that bothers them. Then I came to this conclusion: no, you don't have a right to constantly complain about my behaviour if the intent behind your complaining is malicious and aimed at harassing me, rather than at resolving the situation that is bothering them. It's the interpersonal equivalent of a person who sues everyone in sight - they are using a system unfairly and not in the spirit in which it was intended.
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« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2009, 10:00:45 PM »

Recognizing the dynamics and admitting your place in the triangle is the first step. Now you need an action plan on how to change things.

Another antidote or escape from the Drama Triangle is know as TED (The Empowerment Dynamic), created by David Womeldorff. The Empowerment Dynamic has corresponding roles to each of those played out in the Drama Triangle.

• Victim shifts to Creator,

• Persecutor shifts to Challenger, and

• Rescuer shifts to Coach.
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2010, 05:35:45 PM »

One of the best descriptions I've ever read of the drama triangle. Well written, and easy to understand. Unfortunately - it perfectly describes the roles that my uBPDm, her uNPD husband, and "their" son have been locked into f o r e v e r.
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2010, 09:48:48 PM »

This is a tool that we use in Drama Therapy. I use it when I am doing diagrams and when we are defining roles with our clients and who and how they are affected. This also applies to my uBPDh.
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« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2010, 12:07:54 AM »

WOW what a great article. Very easy to understand. I have been a caretaker/victim my whole life. 3rd of 7 kids, oldest girl, overwhelmed mom when preschool age. Alwasy felt a lot of responsibility and mom not available to help me with depression when a teenager. Lots of issues in family with dh and DD over the years. BPDD is now 24 and superb persecutor/victim. Dh is a caretaker too. But maybe he is the healtiest of us all sometimes. I am trying hard to bring this all into my awareness to provide healthy environment to raise my gd age5 in. DD not allowed to live in our home anymore. She is trying to contain her anger. Hope she can finally accept come therapy choices when she gets done with her month in jail (DUI, Domestic violence) and work with our family T and one for herself to build relationship she is asking for with her Daughter. Dh and I have custody. right now it is too much for her to take in to hear about this triangle. She can apply this to the rest of the family, but never sees it in herself.

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« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2010, 12:32:47 AM »

I have also found the drama triangle to be a very useful tool to understand dysfunctional relationships. This article is particularly clear and includes good examples.

We have a related workshop:

US: Our dysfunctional relationships with others

The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the dynamics of difficult family relationships and the roles we get caught up in - unconscious defenses that keep people disconnected and distant. Family members with BPD often get stuck in victim, persecutor, and rescuer roles (the Karpman Triangle), and we get stuck with them. These roles are ways we try to stay safe, or feel important. Participating in the "triangle" ultimately buries people in manipulation, blame, shame, and addictions to crisis and chaos. Learn more:

https://bpdfamily.com/content/karpman-drama-triangle

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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2010, 03:02:41 PM »

I read this article yesterday and read it again today.  It is exactly what I was ready to hear in my recovery process.  In my life, have occupied all three roles, but mostly the victim role in my early adult years and now in my later years, the caretaker role, and now I see what a toll it takes on healthy relating.  This article has given me a renewed since of hope and motivation to hop off the triangle and I'm excited about practicing relating to others without trying to rescue.  It's really a profoundly insightful article.  I also see  now that my relationship with uBPD friend never had a chance.  I was the rescuer and he was the persecutor.  We were opponents in some sense when you look at it from the Karpman Triangle staNPDoint.  Our true selves were never revealed, and thus the friendship was doomed from the start.  I am 74 days no contact.  I can't emphasize enough the value of no contact.  It is the space we need to reflect, stretch our minds and hearts and learn the value of the present moment.  Thank you so much for posting this.  CS
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2010, 11:57:47 AM »

It's a great article.  Thanks for putting it up!

I was a SGV but went to Rescuer almost immediately, even as a small child.  Persecutor came later, but I definitely arrived at it and have continued to ping around the triangle.  In ever-changing ways, for which I'm grateful, but would definitely like to get off it altogether!

I particularly liked the candor with which the author addressed the sicknesses of the SGV and the SGR, not just making the SGP the "bad guy."


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« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2010, 08:33:54 AM »

  One cannot "rescue" someone from their past victimization - the person has to heal that - not get "rescued" from it.

This really speaks to me-- I attributed much of my exBPDh's negativity to his past, and believed that if I could "save" him from that our life together would be normal and sane.

I learned to enter the triangle from the rescue position in my FOO.
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2010, 06:17:40 AM »

Really interesting  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2010, 04:37:59 PM »

That is how I am in this predicament, "Budding resuecer grows up in an enviromnent where thier needs are  negated ... .without permission to take care of themselves, their needs go underground and they turn instead to taking care of others.! I am realizing how I thought if I took care of him all would be ok... .sorry isn't working. I need to read this several times 
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« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2010, 04:09:11 AM »

WOW!

This describes my ex to a tea

And by the way I can see myself in there too

I am wondering though as I have wondered about BPD for a while - both professionally and especially personally whether the actions / behaviours etc of someone with this is not completely invalid - usually (because yes when they hit delusional it can be!) - however is extreme and that is the issue? It is perhaps why we put up with it also as we know something is not quite right but we are understanding people and can see what is trying to be said and therefore allow the cycle to continue?

I hope this makes sense?

Thanks again for the interesting article!
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« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2010, 08:52:52 AM »

More on The Empowerment Dynamic that Skip mentions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle#Therapeutic_models

The Empowerment Dynamic (TED) stands as an alternative to The Drama Triangle. The drama triangle is a psychological and social model of human interaction in transactional analysis  (TA) first described by Stephen Karpman in 1968. The drama triangle is used in psychology and psychotherapy to describe the insidious way in which victims, persecutors, and rescuers get caught in a cycle that is hard to escape. For many years, the key to escaping this triangle was thought to be awareness plus willpower. However, there was no clear alternative to the drama triangle. In 2005, David Emerald (aka Womeldorff) published a short book called The Power of TED* to provide a new model that offers an antidote to and escape from Karpman's drama triangle. TED* involves three key roles that correspond to the roles found in the drama triangle. In the drama triangle, the major role is known as the Victim. The Victim is someone who sees life as happening to them and who feels powerless to change their circumstances. Victims place the blame for their status on a Persecutor, who can be a person or a situation. Being powerless, the Victim seeks a Rescuer to solve the problem for them. This dynamic is cyclical and repeats as one problem replaces another, creating a roller-coaster effect of tension and relief in a person's life. These roles are intrinsic to the idea of Victimhood or, as David Emerald describes it, the Victim Orientation.

The empowerment dynamic (TED*) is goal or outcome oriented and replaces the Drama Triangle roles as follows. In the TED* framework, the Victim shifts into the role of Creator. The Persecutor takes on the role of Challenger, and the Rescuer assumes the new role of Coach. A Creator is someone who stops to think about what they want - what their long-term goal or vision is. Creators are outcome-oriented as opposed to problem-oriented. Problems will always occur, but instead of acting as a Persecutor, the problem now takes on the form of Challenger. A Challenger is a person or situation that forces you to clarify your goal. Challengers encourage us to get clearer about what it is we do want, then focus our efforts towards moving closer to that goal. Emerald calls this Dynamic Tension[1]. Dynamic Tension is the difference between current reality and the envisioned goal or outcome. By taking what Emerald calls Baby Steps a Creator gets closer to and clearer about the goals or outcomes they are trying to create in their lives.

The final role of the TED* triangle is that of Coach. Instead of Rescuing someone, a Coach asks questions that are intended to help the individual to make informed choices. A Rescuer, by definition solves a Victim's problems, which keeps the Victim powerless and dependent upon the aid of others. This is a form of mind-game that can be found in Transactional Analysis[2]. This is a self-perpetuating cycle designed to keep the Victim down and powerless. The key differentiator between a Rescuer and a Coach is that the Coach sees the individual as capable of making choices and of solving their own problems. A Coach asks questions that enable the individual to see the possibilities for positive action, to focus on what they do want instead of what they don't want. Coaches see victims as Creators in their own right and meet them as equals. This process interrupts the drama cycle and puts the former victim in the powerful position of Creator where they make informed choices and focus on outcomes instead of problems.
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« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2010, 10:42:03 PM »

I've just ordered the book 'The Power of TED' www.powerofted.com/ and look forward to reading it.

On the drama triangle, I've certainly played the role of victim to UBPDW's persecutor, and I want to end that toxic dynamic.  It's interesting that within the past few weeks, I've had some moments of strength and clarity, where I can start wrapping my head around the idea of creating goals for myself, becoming more pro-active in my life, and less reactionary to W's drama and chaos.  Granted, the moments are fleeting, but I do sense that I'm making some progress.

I also sense that our changing to a healthier dynamic (i.e., victim to creator, persecutor to challenger, rescuer to coach) can facilitate the ability for us to set and maintain appropriate boundaries... .and perhaps it's all really intertwined as part of a positive, upward cycle on our individual paths to better emotional health?

blackandwhite, am I on the right track with this?
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« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2011, 10:52:18 AM »

Here's an excerpt of another formulation related to the drama triangle. This one describes four roles ("states" that a person with Borderline Personality Disorder is likely to play, and the way that others (in particular therapists, but we can also consider how these states impact partners and family members) are likely to respond. The author looks at these states in terms of value, agency, and attribution--who has power (in the person's mind) and who is good or bad (in the person's mind).
 
Excerpted from: "Borderline Attributions," by Robert J. Gregory, Robert J. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 2007, Vol. 61 Issue 2, p131-147, 17p
 
Four States: Helpless Victim, Guilty Perpetrator, Angry Victim, Demigod Perpetrator
 
[There are]... .four common states of borderline personality disorder, i.e. helpless victim, guilty perpetrator, angry victim, and demigod perpetrator. Each state of being is characterized by a predominant motivation for either dependency or autonomy and assignment of polarized attributions of value and agency to self and others. The rigid and polarized attributions within each state lead to well-defined expectations for the self and how others will respond to self. Moreover, since others frequently feel compelled to respond in a manner consistent with those expectations, the net result is a self-perpetuating, stereotypical, and repetitive pattern of interpersonal relatedness.
 
THE HELPLESS VICTIM STATE (OTHER IS GOOD, OTHER IS BAD)
 
In the helpless victim state of being, both agency and value are assigned to others. Self-image is as an innocent and helpless child, whereas other people are split into either all good and powerful or all bad and powerful images, thereby creating a triadic relational system analogous to Karpman's (1968) drama triangle of victim, rescuer, and persecutor.
 
This state allows patients to maintain self-esteem through shifting the locus of responsibility for negative consequences from self to others. It also satisfies the patient's need for unification with an idealized caregiver, though at the cost of undercutting the patients' sense of power and autonomy.
 
Countertransference reactions to patients in this state are very positive, assuming that the therapist is on the good side of the binary attribution of value. [To help]... .The therapist partially gratifies dependency wishes by a warm and soothing manner in the role of the ideal other, while also supporting the patient's independent decision-making and creative exploration of his/her unique attributes... .
 
THE GUILTY PERPETRATOR STATE (SELF IS BAD, OTHER IS GOOD)
 
The guilty perpetrator state is characterized by depression and hopelessness. Self-image is very negative and assumes total responsibility for every bad thing that ever happened. Persons perceive themselves as inadequate, defective, evil, and/or a hopeless case, i.e. "I'm just this crazy person who will never get better, so I might as well end things right now." There is a significant risk of suicide.
 
Separation fears and/or fears of retaliation for attempts to differentiate the self through assertiveness commonly trigger the guilty perpetrator state (Rogers et al., 1995). It serves to maintain attachment in a conflicted relationship by owning the blame (i.e. sense of agency) for any difficulties. It represents a last ditch effort to hold onto an untarnished image of the ideal other in the context of emerging feelings of anger and resentment. For example, the guilty perpetrator state often follows a therapist's vacation or an incident of physical abuse from a spouse.
 
Self-destructive behaviors, such as cutting or overdose, are common in this state, serving as symbolic atonement for self-perceived badness and thus, relieve dysphoria. These behaviors also serve to displace aggressive impulses that might otherwise jeopardize a relationship.
 
... .The therapist is in the awkward position of being stuck in the role of the idealized rescuer, but having no agency. For example, the patient might state, "I know you mean well, but nothing seems to be working. I'm so depressed and need some help!"... .The therapist must avoid enactment of the role of the rescuer, regain agency, and challenge the patient's self-perception of irredeemable badness. This may include refraining from excessive interventions and/or by pointing out ways that the patient is choosing not to not participate fully in treatment.
 
THE ANGRY VICTIM STATE (SELF IS GOOD, OTHER IS BAD)
 
In this state, agency is given to others, who are seen as persecutory. The patient's self-image is idealized as the heroic victim who endures life's trials. The slogan is "I can't soar like an eagle when I'm surrounded by turkeys."
 
Mood is irritable, as patients feel justified in denigrating the many people, including the therapist, who are giving them a hard time. Patients' behavior is frequently demeaning, controlling, and intrusive. They have prominent paranoid, obsessive, and/or narcissistic traits, seeming suspicious, entitled, and blaming others for their problems.
 
The angry victim state serves to protect against feelings of humiliation and enhance self-esteem through idealization of the self and externalization of responsibility for negative consequences... .
 
In addition to protecting against feelings of humiliation, the angry victim state fulfills wishes for autonomy and mitigates merger fears. The cost to the patient, however, is isolation and fearfulness. Unlike the helpless victim state, there is no soothing and accepting ideal other to allow space to reflect upon experiences and attributions. Instead, the patient's negative attributions of the other prompt control struggles, i.e. internal conflicts between positive and negative self-images become external conflicts between the grandiose self and the persecutory or shaming other.
 
Patients in this state frequently utilize substances, such as alcohol or drugs as a substitute for the soothing functions of the ideal other (Johnson, 1993)... .
 
Therapists often feel irritated and devalued by the patient's criticisms and whining complaints. There is a strong impulse to retaliate for the patient's unjust attacks by "setting limits" or giving the patient a "reality check".

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« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2011, 06:24:49 PM »

So many of the ideas and concepts that i have been exposed to the past year are helping me to refocus myself to this way of thinking. I don't know how efficient my mix 'n match process has been, but the baby steps seem to be starting to work. My life feels so much less chaotic and I see baby steps being taken by everyone in my little family - dh, gd5 and our limited contact relationship with BPDDD24. I am more and more aware of the dysfunctional coping strategies EACH OF US brings to bear on making our way through a typical day. And I have to say, I can be really loud sometimes and feel very justified in my loudness. I am working to take time-out quicker, use my calming techniques to gain self-control, and come back into the family. I am being able more often to listen quietly to DD24's complaints, be validating of her feelings and ask validating questions to leave things open for her to problem-solve her own issues. Then let go of her outcomes - they are hers, not mine. I just have to keep practicing all this stuff.

Now my greatest wish is to share this with DD24 - without her tearing it up, or texting me to not send her my 'crap' that she is waiting for REAL MAIL. ie. a positive outcome to her SSI appeal to get benefits or the letter with the meeting for orientation to apply for assisted housing. Her complaining today was that bf was feeling angry with her because she is so dependent on him and he doesn't want to be attached to someone that cannot be independent and get a job. (I don't see him having a job - they live homeless together with lots of other homeless in their city park, hoping to avoid illegal camping tickets.!) So I remind myself again to LET IT GO. She has to find her own way, and she is surviving, she is no longer raging or blaming - at least to my face, we have had two weeks in a row of a positive visit time with gd5 - short visits but no anger.
<br/>:)oes anyone have ideas of how to share the idea of being a 'creator' with my BPDDD24 - she hates big words or "pshycology talk".

qcr
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2011, 01:46:41 PM »

Does anyone have ideas of how to share the idea of being a 'creator' with my BPDDD24 - she hates big words or "pshycology talk".

Not sure, but I think the idea here is to not try to change other's actions, or the roles they try to play on the triangle. It's to be self-aware and control where you are in things?
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« Reply #27 on: July 16, 2011, 11:30:14 PM »

Wikipedia has a long page on Transactional Analysis too.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis

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« Reply #28 on: November 05, 2011, 06:49:22 PM »

How to escape the karpman drama triangle?



              Click on diagram for more information

Since the ending of my relationship with a girl who suffered from BPD and much introspection, my perspective of the world had a paradigm shift. I see differently. I feel differently. I think differently. It is like being new in many ways. I am now aware of many things I never was aware of before... .such as the drama triangle. The question remains, however, how to always avoid it?
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« Reply #29 on: November 05, 2011, 06:59:38 PM »

The best way to escape this triangle is to take responsibility for your own actions and emotions and refuse to take responsibility for anyone else's. Don't let yourself be a victim, and don't rely on anyone else to save you or blame. If you own your emotions and ride through them, stay mindful, and take care of yourself, you'll be able to avoid being a victim.

Now the other part to avoid being the rescuer or the persecutor - you have to let others take responsibility for themselves. Don't try to swoop in and rescue anyone - you have to let people suffer their own consequences and deal with things on their own. You can still help people and advise them, but don't take too much control over the outcomes of THEIR decisions. The only person you can control is yourself, and the only person you can save is yourself. Also, if you find yourself being blamed for everything, you need to find strategies that places the correct emotions back on the person feeling them - the "victim." Don't blame yourself for someone else's emotions and construct firm boundaries and you can keep from being turned into the bad guy.

It's probably more difficult that it sounds, but that's my advice to you. I hope it helps.
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