The Drama Triangle
In fact, anyone who jumps in to “help” someone out of a relationship entanglement is as likely to get roped in as they are to pull out the Victim. Therapists, with our desires to help and to heal others, are prime targets for getting roped in before we know it.
When I see clients enacting the Drama Triangle, I have found it very useful to draw it out as a schematic for them, just like the above picture, and then to ask them to identify themselves in the various roles above. Clients quickly understand the trap that the Drama Triangle makes for them and for the people with whom they are entangled.
If a client is shown the schematic, they can then begin to identify in the course of their own life when they fall into one or more of the roles. Usually there are preferred roles, but just as often, while the dance may start for them in one corner it cycles through all the roles, even within a single altercation. The Drama Triangle is a powerful tool for raising awareness of what is often a long-standing, unconscious pattern of behavior.
How, though does one escape the Drama Triangle? I believe that awareness itself opens the door to choice. Some people are quickly able to stop much of the provocative behavior that would have led to them entering the Triangle in at least one important relationship. Other clients, however, return with some frustration: “I know I keep getting trying to rescue people, like I seem to have done my whole life, but I don’t know how to stop. What else can I do?”
In the next article, I will discuss the alternative approach to the Drama triangle, called the “Connecting Triangle”. This approach to relationships offers a healthy way to get close to others, while also empowering others and remaining empowered, oneself.