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Author Topic: 2.01 | Karpman Drama Triangle  (Read 82957 times)
tanril
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« Reply #60 on: December 05, 2014, 04:31:30 PM »

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?)

I completely agree. When things happen quickly and when they get emotional - and with BP that's often the case - the awareness and the ability to recognize become muddy. Sometimes I need to stop and look at the motives behind my actions - as long as I take personally the outcome of my intervention, I am probably rescuing. When I do things out of spite, with a silent "eat that!", voila persecution. Should I delegate the responsibility for my actions onto someone/something else, thus gaining a helpless feeling, I am playing the victim.

For me, enabling means giving opportunity for (whatever) - the outcome is not my responsibility. Setting boundaries is done primarily for my well-being and being mistreated arises in situations where I am being mistreated even though I have done my maximum to change the situation.

Thank you for your post, Skip, it helped me sort these things out for myself Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #61 on: January 01, 2015, 12:14:46 AM »

God, I wish I knew about this at the beginning of my relationship... .

   
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« Reply #62 on: January 11, 2015, 04:00:50 PM »

I read this article many months ago but re-reading it now makes a lot more sense (I guess I have done enough work to see the reality of things).  My uBPDexh is classic Persecutor.  He didn't show that at first.  He showed Victim which brought out my Rescuer.  As time went on and I could never do enough to satisfy him, he moved into Persecutor.  This moved me into Victim which I hated and brought out all my dysfunctional coping mechanisms.  Then something would happen (such as an injury) and he would slip back into Victim which moved me back into Rescuer, somewhere I obviously felt more comfortable in and we'd be back to that nice honeymoon feeling for a while.  As long as he needed rescuing, things 'seemed' good.  In the end I really resented being the Rescuer.  I didn't want to play any of these parts any longer.  I wanted things to be healthier.  I wanted to move to the Centre.  Which seemed impossible to do.  I just could not stop reacting.  Now almost 7 mths out of the r/s I'm finally starting to understand how my choices can help me stop reacting (getting stuck in the corners) and move to the healthier Centre.
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« Reply #63 on: January 11, 2015, 04:04:02 PM »

I read this article many months ago but re-reading it now makes a lot more sense (I guess I have done enough work to see the reality of things).  My uBPDexh is classic Persecutor.  He didn't show that at first.  He showed Victim which brought out my Rescuer.  As time went on and I could never do enough to satisfy him, he moved into Persecutor.  This moved me into Victim which I hated and brought out all my dysfunctional coping mechanisms.  Then something would happen (such as an injury) and he would slip back into Victim which moved me back into Rescuer, somewhere I obviously felt more comfortable in and we'd be back to that nice honeymoon feeling for a while.  As long as he needed rescuing, things 'seemed' good.  In the end I really resented being the Rescuer.  I didn't want to play any of these parts any longer.  I wanted things to be healthier.  I wanted to move to the Centre.  Which seemed impossible to do.  I just could not stop reacting.  Now almost 7 mths out of the r/s I'm finally starting to understand how my choices can help me stop reacting (getting stuck in the corners) and move to the healthier Centre.

Can you elaborate on that?  The pattern you described is exactly what I experienced... .and the fact that I could not stop reacting.

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« Reply #64 on: January 11, 2015, 04:37:05 PM »

I read this article many months ago but re-reading it now makes a lot more sense (I guess I have done enough work to see the reality of things).  My uBPDexh is classic Persecutor.  He didn't show that at first.  He showed Victim which brought out my Rescuer.  As time went on and I could never do enough to satisfy him, he moved into Persecutor.  This moved me into Victim which I hated and brought out all my dysfunctional coping mechanisms.  Then something would happen (such as an injury) and he would slip back into Victim which moved me back into Rescuer, somewhere I obviously felt more comfortable in and we'd be back to that nice honeymoon feeling for a while.  As long as he needed rescuing, things 'seemed' good.  In the end I really resented being the Rescuer.  I didn't want to play any of these parts any longer.  I wanted things to be healthier.  I wanted to move to the Centre.  Which seemed impossible to do.  I just could not stop reacting.  Now almost 7 mths out of the r/s I'm finally starting to understand how my choices can help me stop reacting (getting stuck in the corners) and move to the healthier Centre.

Can you elaborate on that?  The pattern you described is exactly what I experienced... .and the fact that I could not stop reacting.

I think it comes from awareness.  Once you see the triangle and see your dysfunctional coping mechanisms, you then have a choice to stop, take a breath and consider an alternate response.  I'm just at the very beginning of practising this.  I have spent my whole life 'reacting'.  And my reacting went into overdrive after the BU of my marriage.  It seemed quite involuntary, a bit like PTSD.  I do a lot of talking to myself when I get triggered now.  Almost like I'm watching myself from above.  For example, if someone says something to make me feel slighted or my opinion rejected I tend to get triggered.  My usual reaction would be to lash out or run away (usually the latter).  Now I stop myself from doing either and ask myself 'what am I really feeling here?  Where does this come from?  Could there be another explanation?'.  Usually just taking that time to question my emotions to see if they are based in reality is enough to calm me down and then I'm able to either let it go or respond by asking for clarification.  I have found this also helps with lessening the ruminations after the event which is my fall-back coping mechanism.  Like I say, I'm just starting to understand this all and I'm only so far able to change the pattern with small triggers.  I'm hoping that with practise I'll eventually be able to handle the big ones! Smiling (click to insert in post)  I believe mindfulness is the answer.  When we can learn to be mindful we can see ourselves more objectively and realise we have choices and we don't have to be a prisoner of our past and our patterns.
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« Reply #65 on: January 20, 2015, 06:35:19 PM »

Hmmm... .this definitely shows me a darker side to my rescuer tendencies than I was aware of. I mean, "rescuing" sounds so much nicer than "persecuting." I always knew my uBPDh was a hurt person underneath, but changing up my place in the triangle showed we couldn't really get healthy together... .

Pingo's story pretty much tells mine!

Great article, i'm gonna need to read it again.
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« Reply #66 on: January 28, 2015, 06:53:23 AM »

Reacting to the perceived issue/ story before you creates a counter reaction. This sends all the players off into their designated corners to start the game and the music starts. The chain reaction roles out.

Moving to the center is a way of disassociating from your normal role, and not triggering your reaction or counter reaction and hence giving the music one more spin. It is also a means to reflect projection from the various players, as projection is a major driving force in this triangle. Projection fuels the feeling of injustice and betrayal which causes the desire to strike out/blame.

The rescuer and victim interaction reminds me of something my pwBPD once said... "stop enabling me to be disabled". I thought that quite insightful... It was just one of those momentary flashes in the pan though, for once I followed this advice and stopped enabling, I was then assigned the role of persecutor for not rescuing, I went into victim role with "you dont appreciate what I do etc... "... .The spin of the triangle again.

Even when you see the dynamic it is still so hard to stay off it, as it seems to be present in normal interaction to a degree not just completely dysfunctional ones. It is the core dynamic of everyday gossiping.
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« Reply #67 on: January 28, 2015, 08:53:42 AM »

as projection is a major driving force in this triangle. Projection fuels the feeling of injustice and betrayal which causes the desire to strike out/blame.

The point about projection is a good one.

I think the opposite of the statement above is true, however. A triangle a be use to validate or enhance projection. Most triangles don't involve projection.

It's important to know that triangles are a normal part of life.  It's a way to relieve then tension between two people by involving a third. It's not a pathology, it a human dynamic.  We do it too.

Triangulation an be good and it can also turn bad. Sometimes involving the third person resolves the tension. This is a fundamental principal of Bowen's Family Systems Theory.

Projection is not a necessary component or even a common component of triangulation. However, triangulation is one vehicle for projecting.

Here is an overview discussion on triangulation which help established how the Karpmen triangle fits into the scheme of things.

https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=121673.0

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« Reply #68 on: January 28, 2015, 03:50:54 PM »

SOO--in a practical sense--now that my uBPDh is portraying himself in the victim role with me as the persecutor, i'm trying to balance that ball in the center of the board by not becoming engaged in any of the roles he has set up. Not defending myself to anyone, trying to just tell the truth of my one-on-one relationship with the daughter he's drawn into his picture of the relationship.

Is that the general idea of "the center"?

Elpis
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« Reply #69 on: January 29, 2015, 05:38:24 AM »

Great article!

I can definitely see the different triangles we had in my FOO. I was a SGV, my oldest sister also, and other sister would be SGP. I am not sure how to place mom. I think probably due to her rages, she is a SGP.

I can also see how this transferred to my adult relationships with partners and daughter. I think I was in the SGR role with partners and daughter. Now that daughter is half-way around the world, we have both had time to unlearn the patterns I set in motion so many years ago. I know she can manage her own life, and I am just as capable of managing my own.
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« Reply #70 on: February 06, 2015, 01:46:42 PM »

trying to just tell the truth of my one-on-one relationship with the daughter he's drawn into his picture of the relationship.

This is playing into the drama.

Staying in the center is to give your daughter a copy of Lynn Forest's article - validate her for being a good person - and to ask her not to be the rescuer - that it makes matters worse - then let her read.

As for your husband - rephrase in your own mind what part of what he says is reasonable and respond to that.

Q: Hey are you going to pick me up at 10 or make me wait around like you always do because I am not important to you.

A: I know its important - my phone alarm on - I'll be there at 10:00.
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« Reply #71 on: March 04, 2015, 03:30:29 PM »

Thank you for this wonderful article. I finally have a detailed explanation of the pattern/cycle I've been feeling stuck in.

Is it possible to switch starter positions? I easily identify with SGR but reflecting back, I was more SGV. The turning point was around the same time that religious views shifted, paving the way to recognizing personal responsibility and power. With that said, the family dynamics were set up to create SGRs. Since the shift occurred during adolescence, could it be more likely a matter of the triangle manifesting later in development? In other words, as a child I was victimized but not yet caught in a victim-mindset as I was not yet aware of the abuses or that it was abnormal and simply displaying typical behaviors of abused children.

Also, is it typical to go back and forth between cycling the points of the triangle and separating from the triangle? Comparing the unhealthy habits of the various positions within the triangle and the healthy counterparts, I've had moments, even stretches, of demonstrating the healthy aspects while not fitting into any of the negative positions. However, I know I'm definitely still struggling with going around the triangle, especially internally. As I'm building awareness and adjusting accordingly, should I anticipate detaching from the triangle only to catch myself back in it regularly?
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« Reply #72 on: March 09, 2015, 07:23:33 PM »

trying to just tell the truth of my one-on-one relationship with the daughter he's drawn into his picture of the relationship.

This is playing into the drama.

Staying in the center is to give your daughter a copy of Lynn Forest's article - validate her for being a good person - and to ask her not to be the rescuer - that it makes matters worse - then let her read.

As for your husband - rephrase in your own mind what part of what he says is reasonable and respond to that.

Q: Hey are you going to pick me up at 10 or make me wait around like you always do because I am not important to you.

A: I know its important - my phone alarm on - I'll be there at 10:00.

Oops--I phrased that wrong. I'm not telling anybody but MYSELF the truth of the situation. I'm just being her mom by asking about her kids and other things going on in her life. Just continuing to be the same old me I've been. There was a point much earlier on where I had mentioned to my h that our daughter and sil weren't speaking to me, but I don't talk with him about anything anymore other than straight up questions about stuff like our son's dental problem, stuff like that. I love the way you put the "rephrase in your own mind what part of what he says is reasonable and respond to that" Q and A. Very clear and neutral in emotion.
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« Reply #73 on: August 27, 2015, 08:36:43 AM »

Great information, extremely useful. I have often played the victim - but also managed to get out of it by taking responsibility for my decisions. The rescuer is also a well known role. I actually managed to get out of these roles concerning my relationship with my mother and my deceased husband. But after that I was too unstable myself to deal with my BPD person and willingly played rescuer/victim. Now I'm OK again a situation that is more unusual for me has raised its head... triangulation with his family. I don't seem to have the same kind of feeling for the roles here.

His family have a long history of conflict with him, and actually obviously often play persecutor/victim ... .they complain about his lifestyle, treat him a like a child, ignore him, etc. Yes, he does drink too much, yes, he smokes, no, he doesn't go to church and is not very capable of cleaning his flat etc. He then responds with aggression and by not answering the phone, etc. But then I came on the scene.

My first role was rescuer and mediator ... .I took his mother away from him when she arrived unexpectedly, gave her a coffee, let her talk and when she asked me if she should leave immediately, I told her she had to decide if she could accept him for what he was. She tried, he tried. 3 years of relative peace followed.  So actually that was a positive effect of triangulation... .and I was a kind of rescuer. I was seemingly accepted by his family (as some kind of a friend) and we even spent holidays together.

But things changed.

His parents and his brother began to put pressure on me to persuade him to take a detox course for his alcohol problem, saying I was the only person able to influence him. This is a load of codswabble - I have no direct influence, as I very well know, and as the daughter of an alcoholic mother and widow of an alcoholic, I know exactly how much codswabble that is, Done the rounds of all the advice centres, psychologists, etc. They have to want to do it themselves or you have to have an excellent leverage point (and there aren't many). I tried to explain this: tried to explain what kind of role I can play. They didn't understand.

Now they seem to think I am a cause of all this stuff; the reason why he has no friends (he does spend a lot of time with me, takes me everywhere). True, we used to have a partnership kind of relationship, but I'm much older than he is, and we stopped that quite a long time ago. Well, physically, anyway.

Now, they asked him to come visit them alone. They don't contact me any more. They criticise me to him and he defends me (that's what he says, anyway). So am I the victim? I just haven't reacted at all. But it makes me feel insecure about contacting them.

Now he is involved in a verbal fight with his mother again. He has shown me all the mails: I try to let him talk, let him reflect on his role, ask questions, try to treat him the adult he is. Am I a rescuer again? I'd need support myself in such a situation.

Whatever... I find it easier to deal with the direct triangle than to cope with the family and the roles they give me.
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« Reply #74 on: September 23, 2015, 01:08:36 AM »

Wow, the article itself made me cry. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  :'( I've got lots more reading material, including articles on her site and escaping conflict and the karpman triangle here. I'm so thankful for BPD family.com! You are a godsend!
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« Reply #75 on: November 10, 2015, 04:22:52 PM »

 Thought I found this article & the responses so interesting and relevant, thank you. It has taken me decades to learn the simple truth that rescuing doesn't change anything, when dealing with a BPD mother. I recognise that I was the wise child who was fortunate to survive childhood by having excellent role models in teachers, etc., I buried myself in books, academic achievements, raised a family,became a nurse,: yet always felt empty. At 60 still working I 'had a mid life/ late life!) crisis. Couldn't focus at work, lost all confidence, was 'burnt out'. When I finally went for counselling, the lightbulb finally switched on as soon as I confided I was caring for an elderly BPD mother. It has been a long road to recovery and discovery of my self identity. Two steps forward, one back! But wonderful to realise, like Dorothy, I have the power all along. I am not playing victim, rescuer, any longer. I am OK!
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« Reply #76 on: December 07, 2015, 06:21:26 PM »

Bumping this amazing thread. A lot of new insights for me here... .  Idea Idea Idea Idea

Stop being the rescuer and going into the center: Asserting values and keeping healthy boundaries! Wow.

Why on earth haven't I read this earlier? I think I believed Karpmans triangle was about a drama between three people, haha, and not the roles and dynamics at play.

Bookmarking this for a very close read later on.
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« Reply #77 on: February 22, 2016, 06:48:56 AM »

Bumping this amazing thread. A lot of new insights for me here... . Idea Idea Idea Idea

Stop being the rescuer and going into the center: Asserting values and keeping healthy boundaries! Wow.

Why on earth haven't I read this earlier? I think I believed Karpmans triangle was about a drama between three people, haha, and not the roles and dynamics at play.

Bookmarking this for a very close read later on.

I want to rebump this awesome thread, it really made me think about my role in the family dynamics.  I no longer want to play the victim role in my family (although am struggling to think about how I end up being the victim when my mother is usually the victim). 

I guess it is because when I asked for advice in the past, she starts to persecute and then I adopt the role of victim with respect to what she is saying & my other family members are saying (when I start getting told that I am this way and that way). I know it is super unhealthy, and hope to move to the centre (by asserting values and keeping healthy boundaries).  I am also going to reread this again later, as it gives a lot of very useful insights.  Smiling (click to insert in post)  The only thing that I would add is that I hope that I can actually apply this when I am in the situation with my family - am sure it takes some learning - will just have to keep experimenting until it sticks!
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« Reply #78 on: October 28, 2017, 10:11:29 AM »


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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