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Author Topic: 2.01 | Karpman Drama Triangle  (Read 79582 times)
MaybeSo
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« Reply #30 on: November 05, 2011, 07:13:50 PM »

The only way I know to stay off the triangle is to work hard toward your own development as an adult and that means self care and self responsibility is a priority. This truly is a paradigm shift for many of us who, mostly due to family of origin, became habituated to feeling responsible for others which makes us prime for rescuing others while abandoning ourselves. One of the biggest shifs for me is realizing that my attempts to rescue actually do not help the other individual but makes us both more unhealthy and more stuck on the triangle. It is actually a gift to take care of yourself first. The books How to be an Adult and How to be an Adult in Relationship by David Ricco are excellent. Lynn Forrest has a website and free email service about how to get off the drama triangle, her information is very helpful. Al Turtle's website and blog is full of free essays that are also excellent. There's lots of good stuff out there that helps us to get out of the FOG .
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« Reply #31 on: November 05, 2011, 08:11:19 PM »

My therapist's take on this is "don't feed the animals" by which he means don't reward bad behaviour only the good.

Easier said than done I'm sure..

Take care

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« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2011, 08:48:56 PM »

I think a main concern of mine is that in introspection, I see how I've been the rescuer on the triangle. My EXGF with BPD was the victim when we met but once there was intimacy, she tried to make me the persecuter which I tried to avoid and so she eventually became the persecuter to me(vicitm) and played herself as victim to the outside world in order to find a new rescuer. So, I wonder how to change from that role in romantic relationships.

Secondly, I see the triangle dynamics at play very clearly now in others and really want nothing to do with it, but it seems that I often feel like others try to suck me into their drama. I've gotten really good at keeping it out of my personal life, but doing it at work is a challenge!
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« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2011, 09:23:26 PM »

How to escape the karpman drama triangle?

For me...emotions, emotional decision making, and weak/no boundaries were the driving forces for participating in the drama triangle.

I mainly identify with the role of rescuer but I found I played all three. 

When I was in the role of:

Rescuer...driven by sympathy, enmeshment, over-confidence in the rescue, fairy-tale illusion of love.

Persecutor...driven by anger, frustration, confusion, impatience, stubborness to admit failure in the rescue attempts, realizing she did not want to be rescued even though she was demanding it.

Victim...driven by depression, confusion, rejection, low self-esteem

Boundaries are pre-thought out rules for yourself using your rational mind...keeps emotions from muddling things up.  Cognitive awareness when my emotions are making the decisions has helped.  No contact has worked the best so far out of everything.

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« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2011, 02:10:35 AM »

  No contact has worked the best so far out of everything.

Worked great for me in the aftermath of my relationship too. My EXGF with BPD even contacted me and attempted to portray herself as in need of rescuing. I remained NC.

Thanks for the feedback everyone!
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« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2011, 06:53:20 PM »

This is one of the best articles I have read to understand how I get into sticky situations in relationships. I have ran around this triangle many times. I have played rescuer and victim. Going back to my early childhood I without doubt was a victim and a rescuer and eventually with my mum I became the persecutor. I ended up hating her because I rescued for so long I began to feel abused. In the end it got me off the merry go around or the dance of danger. But when things began to feel safe with her I kept going back into the fold. My need to be needed by her was so strong. Until again another argument brought me back in there as victim. Again and Again, around and around we went! Thankfully my persecution was mainly to distance myself from her. But my anger and hate were raw. She did not like my decision. She then became the persecutor! She blame and bad mouthing me to other family members to the extreme of total exclusion by not inviting me to family gatherings. Surprise, surprise  all family members played the game with her. Manipulation to the end. I felt totally isolated and felt like my family had become a judge and jury of my crimes. What crimes I was been accused of I was never told.

But this I do know and felt it was I believe because for the first time I was stood on my own two feet and said:  NO I WILL NOT ACCEPT YOUR ABUSE OR ANGER ANY MORE Mum!

Thank you  Smiling (click to insert in post) I will be re- reading this article again and again to improve my situation and recognise where I really want to be to be healthy.   Voice. x
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« Reply #36 on: September 18, 2012, 06:36:26 AM »

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for posting it!

I definitely saw myself and my roles and how they switched. Originally, I was a rescuer. I was the savior and the one who would bring balance to her world. I later became tired and annoyed with the surprises of the disorder and transitioned to the persecutor. The fights became epic during this time.

I'm not proud of how I reacted.

Excerpt
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

This really speaks to me. I became angry any pretext of a functional relationship as I knew it wasn't working. So much was off. Then there were the additional things like dumping primary parental care on me, the intense enmeshment projected on me and always having to placate her with nothing in return. I also transitioned to understanding that her youngest's problems weren't because the child was flawed, it was because mom was disordered. The child was the one exhibiting the stress and strain of it. She was the 'bad' child role.

I became resentful and angry. Especially when after we'd agreed early on, she'd address her mental issues - she later said she was fine and had no problems. A direct contradiction to earlier statements by her.

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« Reply #37 on: November 05, 2012, 01:16:53 PM »

Trying to get this into long term memory.  The other articles on Karpman Triangle helped because it also talked about "starting gate" positions.
 
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=108384.0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle
 
I recently had a big problem with my BPD mother getting my Dad so riled up that he yelled at me in an uncharacteristic major temper tantrum.  I saw it coming.  I had some recent career success that I could tell she couldn't cope with because it'd change the family mythology about my worth.
 
After Dad's (not BPD as far as I can tell) blow-up, Mom went in for the kill telling me that it was my place to fit in to her view of me and stay there.  Any disagreement on my part is totally unacceptable.  Now, Dad has apologized and asked me not to take my reaction (unfriended Mom on Facebook) to his temper tantrum out on Mom.
 
In the meantime, I've realized that I need to get out of the childhood fantasy of thinking my family could ever be emotionally supportive of me. Is that moving towards the middle?
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« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2012, 10:44:21 PM »

I'm beginning to wonder if ANYTHING I communicate is not on this triangle! Call me an SGR, who married a SGP (no wonder we argue so much!)

This is worth printing off and reading every day. I need to talk to my T about this. Not sure I'm clear on this "moving to the center" concept (but need to be!)
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« Reply #39 on: November 25, 2012, 11:19:18 AM »

So...HOW does one move to the center?  Examples?
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« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2012, 12:27:51 AM »

Skip often shares a technique of rephrasing the antagonists question in a centered way and then answers the centered question.

For example:

Antagonists Question:  You don't care about me, you never spend much time visiting because you hang out with your stupid girlfriend.

Rephrased ("centered": I'm not feeling loved these days because your father is traveling a lot with the job.

Responding ("centered": You know mom, I miss you - I wish we could spend more time together.  How are you feeling with Dad traveling all the time now?

The original statement is sometimes hard to decipher, but it's important to try and understand where a statement like this might be coming from, realizing it has little to do with you.
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« Reply #41 on: November 27, 2012, 02:50:20 PM »

So Wise Minding, basically?  Finding the underlying primary emotion and responding to that?
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« Reply #42 on: November 29, 2012, 01:08:57 AM »

Really good question.

I think there can be situations where the implementation of "Karpman" and "Wisemind" are similar - but as these tools are taught here, they are different.

Wisemind: Wisemind is about us centering ourselves - solving the dialectical dilemma when our logical mind and emotional mind are in conflict - basically harmonizing or balancing the two. 

Karpman Centering: Karpman is about not taking the bait reacting when someone retreats into a Karpmen corner.  Rather than react to their over emotional reaction, we filter what they are saying to something more centered and then respond to it. It could be an underlying emotion or it can simply be a matter of fact. In this example, it is about avoiding the emotional all together: You don't care about your mother. - Sorry mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work.

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« Reply #43 on: November 29, 2012, 05:51:36 AM »

In this example, it is about avoiding the emotional all together: You don't care about your mother. - Sorry mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work.

In your example, you apologize, which is a little sticky. Laugh out loud (click to insert in post)  I do get the point of your reply and appreciate the clarification.  There are obviously times where centering involves an apology if I have done something wrong.  However, I'm very comfortable backing into a JADE corner and apologize for everything.  If I bump into a tree I apologize.  I'm trying to eliminate "I'm sorry" from my automatic speech because I shouldn't be sorry for having my own needs and life.  When my mom drops by unannounced at work and expects to be seen when I'm in a meeting, the last thing I should say is "Sorry Mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work."  Can you give a different example?
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« Reply #44 on: November 29, 2012, 08:13:35 AM »

When my mom drops by unannounced at work and expects to be seen when I'm in a meeting, the last thing I should say is "Sorry Mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work."  Can you give a different example?

I think in that example, it would be fine to leave off the "I'm sorry", and just say the rest of it.  I totally know where you are coming from on that one.

Karpman is a hard one for me as it involves responding instead of reacting.  I have so many things on my plate, multi-tasking, etc. that I'm usually in reaction mode instead of thoughtful response mode.  Wise Mind is a bit easier, as it has to do with me and my own thinking.  That I'm good with...reflecting on my emotions and taking my time to make decisions that are good for me.

As with many of the tools we use here, it takes awareness and practice.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #45 on: November 29, 2012, 08:39:38 AM »

When my mom drops by unannounced at work and expects to be seen when I'm in a meeting, the last thing I should say is "Sorry Mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work."  Can you give a different example?

This is not a Karpman event. A Karpman situation is when someone over-reacts - becomes a victim - draws emotion into the moment (one example). Your mom dropping by work is more of a boundaries issue.  At some calm time, you can explain how it's best to get a hold of you during the day.

Now, if your mom was upset at the time and telling you that you were not treating her right - then you have a Karpman situation - and you want to give a centered response.

The word "sorry" is fine.  It's polite and its cooperative.  We use it all the time. It doesn't imply guilt. The reason you're keying in on it is because you have become programed to react. Saying "I'm sorry" is triggering for you. Based on the past, you don't want to concede.

Karpman is really about letting all that go. Staying centered.  If the average person's average Mom showed up at work, the average person would say "sorry".  If the secretary was carrying the message she would say "sorry".

Find words you like - the word is not important.  The point is to not have anger, attitude, annoyance, triggers, etc. in your response.  

If you do, then you have let yourself be drawn into a Karpman corner.
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« Reply #46 on: November 29, 2012, 08:46:49 AM »

When my mom drops by unannounced at work and expects to be seen when I'm in a meeting, the last thing I should say is "Sorry Mom, it would be great to spend time, I couldn't get off work."  Can you give a different example?

I think in that example, it would be fine to leave off the "I'm sorry", and just say the rest of it.  I totally know where you are coming from on that one.

Karpman is a hard one for me as it involves responding instead of reacting.  I have so many things on my plate, multi-tasking, etc. that I'm usually in reaction mode instead of thoughtful response mode.  Wise Mind is a bit easier, as it has to do with me and my own thinking.  That I'm good with...reflecting on my emotions and taking my time to make decisions that are good for me.

As with many of the tools we use here, it takes awareness and practice.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Thanks, W2K--leaving sorry off would work.  Awareness and practice are where I'm at currently.  I am a reactor and she has trained me to jump when she needles me. 

The word "sorry" is fine.  It's polite and its cooperative.  We use it all the time. It doesn't imply guilt. The reason you're keying in on it is because you have become programed to react. Saying I'm sorry is triggering for you. Based on the past, you don't want to concede.

You hit the nail on the head.  It is a trigger word for me and guilt is an automatic negative thought. 

I think I get Wise Mind, I would just love to see more examples of centering in Karpman situations. 
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« Reply #47 on: February 21, 2013, 04:02:05 PM »

i'm curious about this triangle...  

if i am no longer with my ex-gf with BPD, and i was the victim, does she seek out someone to fill the void now since we have NC? i guess what i'm asking is does she always have to have either the persecutor, victim and rescuer in her life?

if she foudn someone else (which i presume she did) i'm guessing she made him the rescuer, so how does he get out of the emotions that she used to place on the victim?
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« Reply #48 on: February 21, 2013, 04:25:06 PM »

i'm curious about this triangle...  

if i am no longer with my ex-gf with BPD, and i was the victim, does she seek out someone to fill the void now since we have NC? i guess what i'm asking is does she always have to have either the persecutor, victim and rescuer in her life?

if she foudn someone else (which i presume she did) i'm guessing she made him the rescuer, so how does he get out of the emotions that she used to place on the victim?

It's about understanding the dynamic, and moving to the center of the triangle, using tools like Wise Mind and SET:

Wise Mind - https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=64749.0

SET - https://bpdfamily.com/content/ending-conflict
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« Reply #49 on: February 26, 2013, 10:08:00 PM »

So what role is the BPD usually?

I have a confession that I am often in the victim position with him alternating with his ego-boosting hero mode or being nasty and kicking me while I'm down in persecute.

Sometimes I'm rescuing at the same time as being a victim if that makes sense. I've spend portions of the relationship relying on him financially, but at the same time as being emotionally supportive to him.

When he splits me he talks in facts so he earns more or whatever at the time so therefore contributes more, and I'm assuming this but I think it makes him think he has more rights because of the money thing.
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« Reply #50 on: March 04, 2013, 05:11:15 AM »

So what role is the BPD usually?

We can all switch around to the different roles.

I think the main point is to try to be aware, and try to center ourselves - make sure that we don't fall in and get stuck in any role, no matter what the other people do.

Try to stay balanced and centered ourselves - since "me" is the only person that I can control.
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« Reply #51 on: March 22, 2013, 08:38:01 AM »

I find the Karpman triangle interesting, and wrote a paper on the topic of the power of the victim in this model.  My experience dealing with my DH's BPDex has really shifted my view on the degree of power the victim experiences.  Also, being a parent informs me in this way.  In a sense, the power of victimhood is the ultimate power, meaning the power of last resort.  It is very powerful, but only to win, not to retain a positive outcome for oneself other than trumping the rescuer or persecutor.  Here is what I mean.  For the BPDmom of my SDs, she was raised in a very abusive home. She is extremely constant in using victimized language, even in a persecutor role.   She is very attached to the role of victim, though she often is playing all three roles at once or at least attempting it...   yelling at someone that they ruined her life while giving in and telling him she is willing to do anything for him but they do nothing for her.   But in her descriptions, she played this role as a child to get out of terrible abuse.  I see shadows of this in her two girls, too.  The victim has two powers in a powerless situation.  First, there is power over those in a rescuer role.  If the rescuer wants to rescue (and my T calls parenthood a "mandatory rescue", you can deprive the parent of that power by being a victim beyond rescue.  My SD8 mimics mom and plays this role at times when she is in a lot of pain over her relationship with mom.  She does not want to be touched, insists that Dh and my love is hurting her and she just wants us to go away, says she wants to die.  How painful to be a parent and to be able to do nothing.  In a less intense context, I see many young children gravitate to this role naturally when parents are in charge in a way that feels unfair to a child.  

A second power is over the persecutor.  To gain power over the persecutor, you have to show them that nothing they do can hurt you.  That I think is where some dissociative mental illness can originate, including personality disorders, PTSD, etc.  To get a person to stop hurting you by not reacting or by acting like it is not powerful takes a lot of denial of one's actual experience.  I think BPD mom use this with her mom and mom's abusive BFs.  The words she uses now are that everyone hates her, that "you hate me anyway, so why should I treat you well?"  A willingness to constantly fail and blame others, rather than taking steps to have a good life.  For example, it seems whenever she tries to get more time with the kids through the courts or mediation, she almost always has some mishap...   last time, two weeks before her court date in legal action she initiated, she got a DUI.  When she wanted a job at the school, she showed up at a school even drunk and yelling.  She then totally justifies these acts irrationally, denies them, to such an extreme degree that it is believable just in it strangeness, or she is so pitiably and appears so helpless that people have sympathy for her.  There is also an effect that she flails so badly, that no-one can imagine that DH does not already have full custody, so people imagine there must be something wrong with him, too.  If you act like a totally incompetent victim, people tend to take your side, so you are more effective at obtaining outside allies.  

The risk of these powerful strategies is that in the victim role, as with each of these roles, you harm yourself as well as others, but in the victim role the risk is profound, including in extreme cases the risk to your own life, including risks of suicide, in my SD's BPD mom's case, risk of death in drunk driving, many job losses, etc.  So it is worth it when you have a mom who is willing to beat you as this strategy may save your life, and it does have power to trump the power of persecutor or rescuer.  It is also a much more controlled power--rescuer is a vulnerable place to be, and persecutor is often very out of control and condemned by society.  But it is the manipulative power with the greatest price.  
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« Reply #52 on: April 30, 2013, 10:13:51 PM »

Wow!  This helped.  I realized previously that I am a 'rescuer'.  I worked on my codependency issues but never realized that it kept me in the victim triangle.  Something that recently happened to me really illustrates what the article was about and helps me to understand why I've been feeling so put out.  I was recently asked to lead the women's group at my church.  I accepted and everyone began saying things like "I just knew you would be called."  "You are going to fix everything"  "You are the one who'll make everything better"  People started attributing things to me that I didn't do.  They were good things, but i didn't do them.  It felt like I was being made out to be a savior or something and I got freaked out.  When I started saying no to all the needy people I got some major pushback.  I tried to go to my higher up for support, but they were rescuers too and began talking down to me for trying to set boundaries.  I realize that a year ago I would have been sucked into this dynamic...   but I don't want to be.  I resigned after 6 weeks because I finally realized that the whole group had this very dysfunctional relationship (I had just moved her and started going to this church so it was new for me) and nothing i could do would help.  Afterwards I've started getting this weird treatment from others that makes me feel bad and I realize that when they couldn't have me as the rescuer they are trying to force me into one of the other roles.  Gonna have to spend some time thinking how to get out of it.  I thought I wasn't getting sucked in but I did.  habits suck.
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« Reply #53 on: May 13, 2013, 07:34:44 PM »

Excerpt
Fair warning, this is going to be a rather long post.  Also, if I have used terms incorrectly, please feel free to correct me so I can correct myself and learn better.

Firstly, to address the question about the helpfulness or usefulness of understanding the concept of triangulation - specifically Karpman in understanding drama-related triangles, I want to say that in my opinion, potentially, the most beneficial use of understanding triangulation is to:

1)  Simply understand what is going on on a basic model-based level.

I will be upfront and honest.  I personally hate gossip and I really do not do well with 'groups' of friends.

Why?

I have had experience dealing with multiple forms of triangulation from the more innocuous to the more malicious and though I never had words for it (I never knew what triangulation was and that it had a name until I started therapy years before; my psyD explained it to me when I expressed constant frustration and aggravation at encountering such situations), I definitely could see a pattern and boy oh boy did it bother me.

Excuse me, but I don't need to know something akin to, "Oh hey, did you know that Bill's screwing Jill and 'whine whine whine'," when I am friends with both Bill and Jill and neither Bill nor Jill thought to tell me this fact for themselves though we ARE friends and have interacted as such.  It isn't that it's TMI, it's the fact that I simply respect both Bill and Jill to tell me something important if it pertains to me.  Neither Bill nor Jill are my SOs or are people I am interested in, so why would it matter if they're together?  Perhaps more importantly, why in the world did Adam bother telling me something like that in the first place?

In Real Life, such a thing did happen and 'Adam', it turns out, was feeling put out that 'Jill' had chosen 'Bill' over him and was trying to gain my sympathy and support and to also hopefully instill some sense of animosity in me towards the new couple.  Neither of the two worked and I politely told 'Adam' that if he had issues about the whole situation (which, it really seemed like he did), then he ought to be talking to the new couple and not me.  Thing is, he was never the 'direct' sort and 'direct' communication was never his forte and so he consistently chose to communicate in more indirect and obfuscated manners.

In another example (I couldn't find my other old post or the Triangulation thread where I had typed out a diagram of a Karpman triangulation scene involving the evolving roles of Victims, Rescuers, Persecutors etc within a circle of friends):

[Becoming a Rescuer] I once had a friend who all but idolized me to the point where they more or less acted like I could never do wrong...   even though I always outed myself as any other human being who makes mistakes...   and even though I wanted nothing to do with that role.

I didn't necessarily see my friendship with them as me wanting to 'rescue' them, but I certainly did want to offer support and 'be a friend' in general.  Being that I was - at the time - generally unaware and non-communicative with their other friends and whatevers and being that our friendship didn't start out with drama, it also contributed to my late realization that I was tangled in a Karpman-type drama triangle.

[Becoming a Persecutor] Later as time went on and I confronted them on some issues and put my foot down on some boundaries, they kind of sulked and unbeknownst to me until later, they ran to our mutual friends to get support from all the horrible things that had come from me...   without addressing the situation with me AT ALL in any kind of an honest fashion.  Once they ran and were in the 'safety' of our other friends, they turned around to verbally abuse me.

By setting my foot down on boundaries and 'triggering' the hurt they had once experienced in regards to notions of abandonment, I went from being their Rescuer to being their next Persecutor.

The fact that I was left in the dark about their running to our mutual friends and badmouthing me is of particular importance in the fact that it demonstrates their unwillingness to cope with the issue (having issues with me) in a healthier and more straightforward manner.

Bowen would say - to my understanding - that they did this to escape the stress and abandonment fear they experienced owing to the triggering of said abandonment issues.  In this case because of the avoidance of dealing with the actual issue (fear of abandonment even though I wasn't about to 'abandon' them) and because of scapegoating (blaming me for every problem they had instead of addressing their attachment disordered way of thinking and feeling), this sort of triangulation would be considered dysfunctional.

Hence, also, a Karpman drama-related triangle.


[Becoming a Victim] Confused as %^$# as to what had happened and reeling from the drama that had ensued, I felt really wounded...   and with no explanations or understandings.

Easy one.  I felt victimized because I couldn't understand why in the world would someone who was once so formerly close to me choose to attack me in such ways without any kind of previous discussion about issues they might have had with me.

[Becoming Recycle Material aka the Triangle Restarts Again] And so the cycle continued when eventually, my former fwBPD attempted to return to me to share their latest drama about their new perpetrator and to gain my sympathy and support.  

Specifically, when a mutual friend (the only one left of that group of friends whom I still kept in contact with) finally put their foot down on boundaries, they, too, went from Rescuer (they were the one who the fwBPD used to hide behind and idolized in much the same way they once idolized me) to Persecutor (they set off the abandonment trigger) and Victim (as the former fwBPD painted them black...   ) and RAN BACK TO ME wanting my support in regards to their latest drama.

The cycle of recycling never started as I ended-ended everything at that point and though they have since made attempted repeats at trying to reconnect with either me or our mutual friend (who doesn't consider them a friend anymore either), neither of us has 'participated'.

The Karpman triangulation, in this case, has thus come to an end.


All that said, you don't know what you don't know and before this incident, I didn't even know that there was a name for such a behavior in the first place.

Having a name for it simply made it easier for me to just be able to SAY, "Okay, THIS is what it is.  Now what can I do about it?"

Related to that...  

2)  Using this understanding to better understand ourselves and the situations we are in or show a pattern for getting into.

If you burned your hand on a hot toaster or a hot oven, it's logical to say that in the pursuit of NOT being burned again, you probably wouldn't touch a hot toaster or a hot oven again.

But what if you were walking through a forest and something bit you, but you couldn't tell what it was?  In the pursuit of not being bitten again, it perhaps would make sense that one might avoid the situation where being bitten happened - namely, the forest.  But on the other hand, sounds a bit silly to avoid any and all forests given that it was something IN the forest (in this example, a fictitious snake whose nest was disturbed by people running around and who bit out of self defense) that bit you and not the forest itself.

Knowledge is power and being able to identify and understand a situation gives a person the ability to make a better informed decision on what to do next or how to deal...  

And depending on the person, how they choose to handle a situation will be different from person to person.

At this point in my life after having a name for triangulation behaviors and an understanding for why some of these behaviors happen from the most innocent to the more malicious, I am better able to rationally identify it, classify it...   and then act accordingly.

If someone is triangulating because they are avoiding a situation involving me and the situation overall is 'innocent' enough and maybe something that can be worked on (eg: a co-worker has problems with me but can't seem to talk with me about it and so talks to another mutual co-worker about their problems with me), knowing about the triangulating gives me an opportunity to try and address the issue of avoidance.  In some cases, this movement towards directly addressing the issue can mark the end of such a triangulation.

If someone is triangulating because they are avoiding a situation involving me in the manner of my former fwBPD, then knowing about the triangulating helps me to understand that it is a coping reaction and mechanism and to be able to potentially anticipate what may happen next and simply be prepared for it...   and be prepared to make a decision to forcibly end my part in the triangulation if need be if the original/actual issues at hand cannot be addressed in a healthy manner.

That said, realizing that my fwBPD was engaging the Karpman dramatic triangle out of a disordered-influenced emotional response to the triggering of abandonment topic(s) was actually instrumental in my own healing.

Without knowledge, I was going, "Why did this happen?  WHAT happened?  AM I some kind of godawful monster?  WHY did I go from best friend to worst enemy?  WHAT did I do wrong?"

With knowledge I realized, "I stepped on a trigger by putting my foot down on boundaries.  Feeling threatened and unable to cope with directly dealing with the emotions triggered, they reacted by shunning me/refusing to deal with me, getting support from someone else, and perpetuating their 'I can't deal with this!' mindset/giving themselves the opportunity to not have to deal with the problem by blaming someone else for the issues that cropped up."

The triangulation in this case, is largely a defense mechanism and also largely if not fully emotion-based.

The questions I asked were questions that confounded my sense of logic; everything has a logical answer (or so I thought), and if someone reacts so poorly to me/with me, then logic dictates that something I did was at fault and if the accusations continue and there is nothing contrary (besides my own WTF), then logic continues to dictate that somehow in the grand scheme of things, I was wrong and did something really bad.

But fight or flight and highly emotional reactions are seldom infused with much logic and so there may not be any actual 'logical' response to the questions and sort of as a rehash of my mental thought process, this is what my therapist worked out with me.

Why did it happen?  It was a fight or flight and highly emotional response.

What happened?  Your friend reacted emotionally and defensively in a negative way and instead of directly addressing the issue with you, they went to someone else who felt 'safer' and who could 'rescue' them from the pain they felt.

Am I some kind of godawful monster?  No, you simply stepped on a highly sensitive trigger.  Setting boundaries is healthy and so is communicating them honestly when done in a respectful manner.

Why did I go from best friend to worst enemy?  Because at the time of their emotional reaction, they felt ultimately wounded because their abandonment fears were triggered and they couldn't or wouldn't deal with it in a healthier manner.  You triggered it, so you became the 'enemy'.  A 'quick' way for a disordered attachment person to 'heal' from having their trigger triggered.

What did I do wrong?  At the time, nothing.  You inadvertently stepped on the trigger related to abandonment even though abandonment was not the intent.  Basically, you broke an eggshell.

Emotional responses.  All the way through.

And to me?

If isn't fair to compare a logical thought process stemming from rational thinking with a thought process stemming from disordered thinking and feeling.

I can rationally approach someone who is rational-thinking but who might simply be scared (aren't we all) to get a topic addressed directly.

I cannot rationally approach someone who is not rational-thinking and who is responding out of near pure emotion to get a topic addressed directly much less 'honestly'.

It's why BPD IS a disorder and it is also why I feel that it doesn't do any good to ruminate on it (past the point of understanding on a basic and diagram-level what is going on) and to keep trying to find a 'logical' answer to it all which goes hand in hand with accountability.

Disordered thinking and thought processing and dysregulated emotions which contribute to a high level of emotional-only responses ARE disorders.

As such, to me, understanding and remembering this is crucial if a person wants to start or continue a relationship with someone who has these disorders...   and actually give it a fair and fighting chance from both sides.

...  
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DragonflyGinger

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« Reply #54 on: October 06, 2013, 06:17:05 PM »

HOLY MOLY! This is amazing to me and soo extremely helpful! WOW! I'm totally going to keep this at the top of my mind for awareness so I can stay off of the triangle, using my place of work as constant practice. Thank you!  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #55 on: January 13, 2014, 12:24:32 PM »

When I read about these roles for the first time, it was like everything all of a sudden made sense.  My husband's family operates so obviously as this model describes.  While my "more normal" family certainly exhibited elements of these roles from time to time, my in-laws could be a case study.

When I entered the picture, I took on the role of the rescuer.  My own mother died young.  I was 20, but I had younger sibling who were only 10 & 13.  I immediately took on the role of "mom" with them.  I was lucky to have a wise mentor and circle of women friends who were older, and so I think I was able to stay away from some of the negative roles I could have easily slipped in to.

So, when I entered my husband's family, I was primed to rescue them all from their dysfunction, and felt as if it was my duty to do so, in order to help create the happy family my husband had always wished for (or at least have a holiday not sabotaged by drama).  Boy, was I naive!  Over the ensuing years, I have made myself "the one" that all of his family members wants to speak to and have help from when there is a problem.  They will each go on endlessly about how the other drives them crazy and is the source of all the problems. 

Unfortunately, 3 members of his family are currently dealing with major health issues, and so all of the dysfunction has been greatly increased.  I have been completely overwhelmed, receiving multiple calls each day with the crisis du jour!  I found this site, and am now realizing the part I have been playing.  I know I have a lot of work to do on myself.

In the past, I have dealt with over-interaction by setting boundaries, but with all of the health issues, the lines have been greatly blurred.  I'm having trouble differentiating between real issues that need attention, and manufactured issues that I might be able to ignore.  My MIL, who has udBPD, makes every difficulty she encounters no matter how small, seem like it is a life-or-death situation.  She will often exaggerate the situation, so I don't know what is true and what is hype.

Then, if I dare take a step back, my husband's 2 sisters attack him for not helping enough, and not caring about their mother.

How do I, the "Rescuer," not engage in the drama, without neglecting actual medical needs?  How do I even tell the difference when every issue creates the same level of panic?
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Harri
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« Reply #56 on: September 13, 2014, 08:03:18 PM »

This is a great article.  I found it very helpful to see the different roles laid out in such a simple yet comprehensive way.  I was primarily a rescuer in my family yet I can move quite easily through all 3roles.  With my ex, who was also a rescuer, I put myself into victim mode.  I am embarrassed to admit it, at first it felt so damn good.  It was a relief to get help in life as I thought I was completely clueless about HOW to live, never mind that I had been taking care of my family all of my life, I felt helpless and overwhelmed.  So it felt good to have assistance but I took it too far and went to the extreme.  Then I ended up resenting him and his help and moved into the persecuter role.

  What I found the most frustrating though was that when I did take responsibility for myself he had me so stuck in the box that was labeled "to be fixed"  there was no way to move to center while maintaining the relationship.  I closed myself off and stopped allowing myself to share orhave any intimacy.  I was no longer willing to be vulnerable with him.  He either had to rescue me or persecute me.  I wanted to stop being the victim and stop getting angry and persecuting him.  We started the relationship in those roles so the whole foundation was based on us both being victims of and for each other.

I don't think there is any way to salvage that if only one person hollers uncle.  Or is there?   Is there  way for this to work in relationships other than family?
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     everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. ~ Viktor Frankl
Kwamina
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« Reply #57 on: September 15, 2014, 07:09:36 AM »

This article was very insightful and I can recognize a lot of my own family in this triangle. It's just like we had been doing a dance of dysfunction for years. My mother loved playing the victim and placing me in the role of rescuer and caretaker. If I resisted she'd either intensify her victim role or turn on me becoming the persecutor and making me her victim. And sometimes I'd get so fed up with her behavior that I myself would find myself behaving more like a persecutor than I would like too. It's true though that no matter on which corner you are on this triangle, you're a victim and stuck in very dysfunctional relationship dynamics.

I can see a link between the Karpmann Triangle and the four character profiles Christine Ann Lawson presents in her book 'Understanding the Borderline Mother': Waif, Hermit, Queen and Witch. I'd say my uBPD mother's preferred state was that of the Waif (Karpmann's victim) but as I resisted more she would go from waif to hermit to queen and eventually to witch (Karpmann's persecutor). Not necessarily in that order though because the Witch could appear at any moment. I'd classify the Queen as a persecutor too and the Witch as the ultimate persecutor. My uBPD sister's preferred state is that of the Queen and when she gets challenged (flashes) of the Witch come out and sometimes a full-blown Witch-attack. When my sister wants to get away with things, especially after a Witch-attack, she reverts to a state of waifhood and assumes an extreme victimrole.

I can also see how the Karpmann triangle can be linked to the extreme splitting behavior often exhibited by people with BPD. You're either all-good and almost deified (rescuer) or you're all-bad and then get completely demonized and attacked by the persecutor.

This article was a very interesting read for me. I like the simplicity of the triangle and how it can be linked to other characterizations and concepts.
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« Reply #58 on: November 27, 2014, 08:48:32 PM »

For a long time I was not getting this concept of "move to the center". What "center"? But I think I finally get it. Have had some opportunity to practice as well.

As usual, it keeps coming back to... values/boundaries (and keeping in mind that the boundaries are to protect our own values, not to make others act the way we want them to).

Also getting this responsibility concept of owning up to biting bait, rather than "getting baited" (as if I didn't choose to bite on some bait--or even throw some bait out myself).

Still need more practice, but at least I finally get it. What do you do instead of ping from corner to corner of the triangle? You review your values and select appropriate boundaries and then enforce those boundaries. Simple. Yet so difficult at times! Deeply ingrained patterns don't go away over night.
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tanril
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« Reply #59 on: December 05, 2014, 06:15:21 AM »

Thanks for the enlightening and well structured article.

Moving to the center had me confused for a while but then I came to the same conclusion as doubleAries. It's about owing up to one's actions and decisions - and to the fact, that whatever I choose to do, I am doing it for myself. Never for anybody else. This realisation helps me keep the responsibility for anything I do on me.

What rests is shed the notion that doing things for oneself is bad and the guilty feelings...  
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