The Unconscious Drama Triangle

I would like to introduce to you a concept first proposed by Dr. Stephan Karpman then adapted by Clinton Callahan in his book Radiant Joy, Brilliant Love (highly recommended!). This information has radically changed the way I interact with anyone, especially my intimate partner.

The truth of the matter is that much of our communication can be, and often is, centered around an unconscious victim stance. This seems counter to what we think we are doing when we speak, but it is so pervasive and integrated that we don’t usually even notice that we are engaging in it.  Any unconscious communication that involves complaining, blaming, resenting, justifying, making others wrong or making ourselves right comes from a victimized stance.  Really listen to yours and others conversations and note how often these elements come up. It’s basically the adversarial Good Guy/Bad Guy/Victim plot we see in most media, politics and culture around us. It’s a way of pushing away our responsibility for our state of being or conditions and making someone or something else responsible for it.

When a person takes this Victim stance then another person/group or thing is then assigned, according to the script, one of two roles, either the Rescuer or the Perpetrator. Now the Rescuer is tricky because of  a persons natural urge to help (“I can save you!”) may be coming from a root of fear (“I am afraid you can’t handle this on your own and/or I need you to be OK so I can be OK”). The Perpetrator (“Its your fault!”)  is slippery too because once blamed then the Perp can transform himself/itself or herself into the victim (“no its NOT!”). One more part of this pattern is that the Victim can make the Rescuer into the Perpetrator (“You didn’t do it right!”) which is one reason why rescuing is such a precarious enterprise.

There are almost infinite variations and levels of sophistication on how these roles occur in people’s communications but it gives the Victim an unconscious sense of power and control because they can assign roles without taking personal responsibility for resolving, or facing their part in, the issue. In essence this pattern can go ‘round and ‘round, spinning without any growth or going anywhere as Rescuer becomes Perpetrator becomes Victim. It is a self-generating drama scheme that distracts everyone from the root causes of, and solutions to, the situation.

Now I am not discounting our very human need to discharge negative energy out of our body (“Ah, F**K!!”) and our vocalizing (fifth Chakra) is a very effective way to do that. It is crucial though to do it responsibly: Minimize the negative expressions around your intimate contacts and learn to respect the other persons space by asking permission if you gotta blow (“ Hey, some crazy Sh*t went down for me today.  Is it Ok for me to vent with you?”). Realize that your intimate connections are not a free dumping ground for your tensions. In fact doing that is effectively spreading salt in the garden of your relationship. Also, it is vital to find alternate ways of venting the toxic emoting; Exercise, screaming into a pillow, writing it all down and burning it, meditating, etc., etc. And then talk about it responsibly in order to create solutions if it is in your sphere of influence.

There ARE responsible ways to communicate things that need to change or be addressed.  It takes an awareness of what your intended outcome for the communication is; irresponsible discharge of internal tension or responsible communication of ones internal truth.